10

As I've been creating Joomla websites for many clients for a couple of years. I need some kind of confidence to assure my clients that Joomla is still one of the top 10 CMSs of all time and is still progressive and competitive.

For the time being, Wordpress community on StackExchange has 69,636 questions and Drupal has 64,256 questions. Meanwhile Joomla only has 4,139 questions.

Such a huge gap means Joomla is no longer popular or dying or lack of community support?

Is there any statistics, usages or trend that suggests I should still stick to Joomla?

enter image description here

9

It's understandable that people who have stake in technology choices (esp. considering the investment of time, energy and financial consequences) want definitive answers and a high-level of confidence when selecting a technology platform.

However, there is no quick and easy answer to your question:

Is [sic] there any statistics, usages or trend that suggests I should still stick to Joomla?

Be careful with using statistics to evaluate technology choices for your clients!

To quote Mark Twain, and others

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics" is a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments.

I would suggest that the usage of statistics as a primary argument for choosing any software is a critical mistake.

This is such a common error, and red-herring, that it deserves a well-thought out answer, and I will do my best to answer it.

There are 3 parts to this answer, which I hope will provide some clarity to the common mistakes people make when using statistics to make technology choices.

  1. A bad joke my statistics prof once told us, but one that accurately reflects why using statistics is often folly;
  2. Popular statistics relied upon and why those particular statistics are often, in reality, unreliable; and
  3. What information you should be evaluating when making the correct CMS technology choices for your clients.

1. THREE STATISTICIANS GO HUNTING

Three statisticians went deer hunting with bows and arrows.

The first statistician's arrow landed 10 ft in front of the deer.

The second statistician's arrow landed 10 ft behind the deer.

On seeing this, the third statistician jumped up and down with great joy, yelling, "We got it! We got it!"

Now, statistically speaking, they would have a strong argument to suggest that they successfully got the deer, but the reality is very different!

The moral here is that all the statistics in the world are not a substitute for an informed reality check.

2. POPULAR STATISTICS AND WHY THEY ARE UNRELIABLE

Interest Over Time by Google Trends

Using this statistic is dubious at best for at least the following reasons:

  1. Interest on Google is not always a positive thing

Take as an example, "CMS XYZ," for which there are discovered many critical security vulnerabilities and bugs. The CMS XYZ community would be 'abuzz' with Google search queries - those would be reflected in increased 'Interest over Time' statistics on Google Trends - but it doesn't mean that's a positive thing at all.

In order to rely upon Google Trends as a test to help determine which technology choice is better, you'd have to roll up your sleeves and do some serious research into specifically what type of searches are being conducted.

As another example, it is without doubt that "blogs" now constitutes the lion's share of CMSs in use when compared to web sites used by, for example, universities.

Here, Google Trends which naturally reflect the super-high rate of searches done by millions of bloggers - and if you were to make a CMS technology choice for a client that is a university, reliance on Google Trends would lead you to make a technology choice you might otherwise not make.

While the business requirements for a typical blog may be quite simplistic, the business requirements for a university may include such things as native Access Control Lists (e.g. the multitudes of Guests, Students, Teachers and Administrators would require different permissions and levels of access to the web site), multi-language capabilities, and so on.

In this case, universities could only rely on Google Trends as a metric for technology choices if, and only if, they could distinguish 'interest by learning institutions,' as opposed to 'interest by bloggers.'

Although there are many many more arguments which would demonstrate why reliance on Google Trends to make technology choices is precarious, I think the points above should sufficiently demonstrate why Google Trends should not be relied upon to make these decisions.

  1. 'Popularity' (in terms of usage or rate of adoption) doesn't necessarily equate to 'Better'

Any argument that any particular 'thing' or 'software' is better because more people use it is what we call an association fallacy.

It may seem logical to conclude that a) people will make intelligent choices and choose the better system; and b) that will be reflected in usage statistics, but often this is not the case!

There are plenty of reasons why an inferior product (or technology choice) may be more popular, not the least of which are better marketing and ease of accessibility. Let's face it, good advertising can be very persuasive, and some technology choices are quicker and easier to access (flatter learning curve, quicker to get up and running, and so on). While both these factors may contribute to increased popularity, neither necessarily translate into a technology (or product) choice better suited to an organization's specific business requirements.

To demonstrate how more popular is not necessarily better, let's take a look "Usage Statistics for Where People Get their News"

In an article posted 26 May, 2016 by Techcrunch.com

62 percent of U.S. adults get their news from social media, says report...Only about a quarter of those polled (4,654 members of the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel) get news from two or more sites.

If we equate 'more popular' with 'better,' then we might erroneously conclude that social media is the 'best news source,' out there, on the basis that it is the most popular - and that would be a far cry from reality.

SIDE NOTE: If you are paying attention, then you've smartly realized the fact that I just used statistics to support my argument that reliance on statistics is dubious at best (a seemingly self-defeating argument). However (and somewhat ironically), even if you've arrived at that conclusion, it just goes to demonstrate the point.

Joomla Activity on Stack Exchange

First of all, as one of the people who jumped on the Joomla Stack Exchange bandwagon while it was still in a proposal phase on Area 51, I am so pleased to see how the Joomla.StackExchange.com site has grown.

I am, indeed, honoured to participate with you all, and I find that the care and dedication to helping each other is second to none.

Further, there are some very helpful, intelligent and experienced members on Joomla SE who provide exceptional value that is simply not possible to quantify.

I would respectfully suggest that more important than Joomla SE usage statics are:

  • the ability to get high-quality definitive answers from experienced and competent people; and
  • the sense of community in which we are all here to help each other.

I would also suggest that the quality of answers is far more important than the quantity - so even looking at the number of questions and answers can be a red-herring.

As a last point on this, given the above, even if Joomla SE usage is a fraction of other communities, that in itself is not a reliable metric upon which to judge the success of Joomla SE itself - there is no correlation between Stack Exchange usage statistics beyond the quantity of questions and answers and the quality of questions and answers as compared to other Stack Exchange sites.

3. WHAT INFORMATION SHOULD YOU BE EVALUATING WHEN MAKING TECHNOLOGY CHOICES FOR YOUR CLIENTS?

Perhaps this is the most important section of this detailed answer.

(I hope fellow Joomla SE members will add to this)

1. How well does the technology choice match up with your client's unique business requirements?

To follow on the example on the above, let's revisit 'bloggers' versus 'universities,' and do a quick comparison of Wordpress vs. Joomla, their requirements, and which is a better technology choice.

It could be argued that both WordPress and Joomla could be utilized successfully by either, and in practice, we see bloggers using Joomla (albeit to much a lesser extent than WordPress) and universities using WordPress (albeit for sites which don't rely extensively on Access Control Lists and multi-language capabilities).

For a simple blog, I would argue that Joomla may be a little 'overpowered,' and there are great deal of Joomla professionals who happily use WordPress for blogging.

Joomla is not a bad-choice for a blog (in fact it handles blogging well and there are great Joomla! blogging extensions available), but WordPress, for many, is simpler and easier - and handles all of most blogger's needs just fine.

However, for a university, they may want much more robust capabilities, for example to give different levels of access to specifics groups.

These could be

  • students should not be able to modify the information on course descriptions, however, program administrators should;
  • the program administrator for the Faculty of Science should not be able to alter the Faculty of Law's section of the university's web site, and vice-verse;
  • the tech support department should have access, as 'Super Administrators,' to the entire site necessary to configure, install, modify and provide support to each department as needed; and so on.

Additionally, the university may be bilingual or multilingual and requires admin panels and public facing information in more than one language.

In the above case, the choice of Joomla! as a superior technology platform is crystal clear (at least to anyone familiar with Joomla!'s native capabilities compared with other popular CMSs).

2. What 'Extensions' or 'Plugins' are required?

First, some disambiguation - Joomla uses the word 'Plugin' to describe a specific type of extension, whereas WordPress uses the word Plugin to describe all extensions. In either-case, we are talking about extending the CMS beyond it's core-capabilities - and we will use the word 'extensions,' to describe this.

Quite often, the availability and suitability of a particular extension is more important then the choice of CMS itself.

Take for example, a hotel booking and reservation system that is an important requirement of the web site.

You won't find any major CMS that has these potentially highly complex and specialized capabilities as core-features, so you will need to rely on an extension.

In such a case, (I would argue) you would be smart to choose the CMS platform based on which 3rd party extension you could find that would best choose your needs.

3. What is the availability of competent I.T. Consultants?

Good people are hard to find - and this is especially true in web development.

If you choose a specific platform, you have to have a high-level assurance that a pool of competent people with respect to that platform are available.

If that person is you, then question is easy to answer - you'll already intuitively know which technology platform is best-suited.

However, if you rely on I.T. consultants, and they are either hard to find, or not available for a particular platform, it won't matter how good the platform is. In this case, the availability of competent people should far outweigh the statistics, usages and trends of any particular platform.

Additionally, you should enquire with the developers of the extension that you rely upon if they are available for 'custom work.' Nobody knows the extensions better than the developers - and having them available to do any customizations is a huge factor in choosing which extensions and which platforms to use.

4. Software Design Patterns: MVC versus Procedural Code

It can be argued that Joomla! has a serious advantage in using and MVC design pattern, while WordPress has a serious flaw in that it's design pattern is Procedural (for further information on advantages/disadvantage of the design pattern, see PHP Procedural vs PHP OO vs PHP MVC).

Let's be practical here.

If you understand the difference, then you intuitively know the 'ins and outs' of MVC vs. Procedural Code (i.e. you will understand that MVC has many advantageous for complex code).

If you don't understand the difference, it's essentially irrelevant to your choice of technology platforms as you will be relying on the availability of competent programmers.

It's useful to make a comparison here to what's known as the 'Video format war' between Beta and VHS. If you are not old enough to remember this, don't worry - I'll quickly explain.

In the late 70's and early 80's, you had 2 major choices of video tape formats, Beta and VHS.

Although Beta was far superior, VHS was much more widely adopted.

The superior technology doesn't always become the most popular.

If, however, you are choosing a learning path, you are better off choosing an MVC framework - the code is simply 'better organized' - and that turns into a huge advantage when maintaining, collaborating with developers, modifying and or extending software.

Also, if you enjoy better organized, cleaner, and elegant code - you'll want to work with MVC - and many developers choose Joomla! as opposed to Wordpress for this reason.

Again, however, usage trends and statistics for MVC vs. Procedural are of no use at all. Statistics and usage-trends just don't tell the story of which software design patterns are superior.

5. Do more 'users' translate into 'better sales'?

Say for example, you are a web designer/developer or extension developer.

Intuitively, one may conclude that because a particular CMS has a vastly larger user base, that there is greater business opportunity - and often, there is.

But keep in mind that there will also be more competitors.

It's likely that the increase in competition will cancel out any business advantage that comes with a larger user base.

6. Does a larger user-base mean a wider availability of extensions?

Indeed, there should be a correlation between a larger user base and a wider selection of available extensions.

Again, if your business requirements dictate reliance on any particular extension, it's good advice to make your choice of CMS contingent on the best extension that will suit your needs - and that choice extends to good available support and the availability of competent people to handle any custom work.

Back to statistics, usage and trends as metric for evaluating the suitability of extensions, I've found that even Joomla!'s robust feedback and ratings systems to be almost entirely unreliable - and here's why:

  • there is no way to account for the level of competence in the person providing the rating and feedback, so how we can we rely on the quality of the feedback and ratings being provided?

  • it is only rare cases that people providing feedback on extensions have tried a wide-variety of similar extensions, and even more rare that they've tried similar extensions across a wide variety of CMS platforms. In this case, how can we rely on popularity, ratings, etc,. to make an informed decision on what is the best extension in it's class? And what about what is the best-extension for the customers' unique requirements?

For this there is no easy answer. You may have to 'prototype' a short-list of suitable candidates (extensions), which means taking the time to get familiar with, design, and deploy (at least in a test environment) several extensions.

I'm not sure that usage trends or popularity statistics are at all helpful in finding the best solution.

In any case, with respect to extensions for a particular requirement, you are looking for the 'best-candidate' not the 'largest selection of candidates.'

6. 'Home team' bias and it's influence on usage statistics and trends

People tend to stick with what they are familiar with. Further, people who have vested a substantial amount of time and effort into a particular platform will likely be biased towards it.

People will recommend and influence the implementation of the particular CMS based on their personal bias, and ultimately, this will lead to a wider adoption for that particular CMS.

In this case, usage statistics do not account for bias and familiarity - and how that impacts the rate of adoption of particular CMS - and it's easy to see that a wide rate of adoption does not necessarily mean it's a better technology choice.

To this end, if you've noticed, I have not even mentioned Drupal (of which I hear great things) - and that's because I have no experience with Drupal - I therefore can't make an intelligent recommendation that it would be a better (or worse technology choice).

Further to this, typically when I see articles on WordPress vs. Joomla vs. Drupal - it becomes clear that the authors of the articles only have the most superficial knowledge of some the CMSs that they are evaluating and comparing!

7. Is Joomla Dying?!!!

No. Joomla is continuously improving. While Joomla!'s market share may be shrinking, it is not the amount of users, but rather the quality and stability of Joomla! software and available extensions that ought to concern ourselves with.

To answer the original question

Is [sic] there any statistics, usages or trend that suggests I should still stick to Joomla?

The answer is no, there aren't. For the reasons I've set out above, statistics and trends only give a small-fraction of the whole story, and there is much better criteria on which to make these types of decisions.

  • 1
    really appreciate your detailed explanation. Could you brief me if any better criteria that proves Joomla is still on track? – kolunar Dec 16 '16 at 5:18
  • 4
    You would first have to clearly define what you mean by 'track.' One such definition could be Joomla's Roadmap and therefore an evaluation of that Roadmap combined with how well it is being followed could be solid criteria for longterm decisions about Joomla as a technology choice. I've already covered others so I won't get repetitive here. – NivF007 Dec 16 '16 at 17:36
8

I'll split this into 2 sections:

Reason for the question count on WP and Drupal being higher:

The one thing you have to realise is that the majority of Joomla related question are asked on either Stack Overflow (not JSE) or the Joomla forum.

The joomla tag alone has 13k questions associated with it, not to mentioned other tags such as joomla2.5, joomla3.0, joomla3.5, etc.

Is Joomla dying?

No, it's not. The amount of times I've had to explain why I despise Wordpress, I've lost count. I'll take a secure, feature rich, powerful and MVC CMS over WP any day of the week.

I think you should read this brill blog post written by Radek:

https://www.sigsiu.net/news/1655-is-joomla-dying

  • WP has 98k questions and Drupal has 17k on SO though. But the blog post from the link you shared is worth reading. I personally believe Joomla is still on track (though with a bit slow pace) but Joomla 3.x is better than any prior versions. Thanks. – kolunar Sep 7 '16 at 10:39
  • 8
    Yup, without a doubt, Wordpress is more popular... why? Because it's simple, supports outdated PHP versions that shitty hosting providers still use and has a horrible code base that unfortunately is easy to use. We'll be pushing the boundaries in Joomla 4.x....new backend and frontend templates (Bootstrap 4), SCSS support, minimum PHP version will be 5.6 or even 7.x....and much more. – Lodder Sep 7 '16 at 10:55
  • 3
    very well explained @Lodder – Joomler Sep 8 '16 at 9:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .