WordPress vs Joomla vs Custom Web Design

Since 2005, it has become clear (according to Google trends) that Joomla has seen its user base rise and fall and WordPress continues to be the dominant, most popular content management system (CMS) for powering websites.  In fact, the plethora of free and low-cost predesigned WordPress themes is also driving a stake into the heart of web designers around the world.

As you can see from the Google trends below, Joomla came onto the market towards the end of 2005, early 2006 and quickly overtook WordPress, which had about a year and a half head start.  But, Joomla peaked around 2009 and has since steadily declined in popularity, downloads, installs, and usage.  Meanwhile, WordPress has steadily marched upward and took a huge spike in 2014 when it raised over $200M in venture capital valuating the organization at over one billion dollars.

Most interesting is that the search for web designers has slowly and steadily fallen during this same time frame.  We saw it with photography, just like the rise and fall of Polaroid and Kodak, web designers are becoming somewhat of a dinosaur industry.  While there will always be a need for web designers, the fact is that we don’t need nearly as many of them as we used to.  All we need now are some designers to to design high quality frameworks that we can apply to content management systems such as WordPress.

Gone are the days when we used to spend tens of thousands of dollars on art directors and web designers to custom design a website.  Now, if that kind of money is being spent, it is being invested in usability, front-end development, and back-end customization.

If you are considering a career in web development, you should master WordPress, Drupal, front-end development, mobile development, and custom back-end development technologies and languages such as PHP and Python.  If you are considering a career in web design, you might want to reconsider that career and focus more on usability, accessibility, and art direction rather than pixel design.  If you are considering a new website and/or need a new website to be designed or built for you; you should definitely consider WordPress first, or WordPress as a Service (WPaaS) or WordPress as a Platform (WPaaP) because that is probably the most cost-effective way to stand up a new great looking website.

If you are going to invest money in a website, invest in back-end functionality, custom web development, usability, and accessibility.