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Review – Best Blogging Components and Extensions for Joomla

Review – Best Blogging Components and Extensions for Joomla

Joomla doesn’t have nearly as many features as Wordpress when it comes to blogging.  Not to say that you can’t make a good blog on Joomla – you absolutely can. While there are fewer platforms available, there are some pretty feature-heavy options that I recommend, so I decided to share some of my input based on my experience with them.

Before we get into the reviews of Joomla blogging components, let’s talk about how I’m ranking them.

  1. Performance
  2. Design
  3. Integrations
  4. Features
  5. Ease of Administration

What I am not going to focus on in this article is SEO – every option below will rank comparably in SEO performance, especially since meta-data doesn’t matter as much as it used to. If you write good content and follow best practices (researched topics, alt tags, linking to your other pages, etc.), you’re good to go.

Let’s get on to the reviews!

EasyBlog

Easyblog is my favorite component for blogging on Joomla, although I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with it. In fact, I currently use it for my website, but there are a few areas that are holding it back.

It has by far the most integrations available out-of-the-box, including social (Addthis & ShareThis), commenting (Komento, Disqus, Livefyre), newsletter (Mailchimp), anti-spam (Akismet & reCAPTCHA), and commonly used Joomla components such as Jomsocial and EasySocial.

In regards to features, it has a team blogging option, a (rather basic) blog migration tool, a built-in subscription system, and auto-posting to social media, to name a few.

With all these options, it would seem like choosing EasyBlog would be a no-brainer. But really, I have 2 main gripes with the component.

Design options are terrible with EasyBlog. Despite having around 20 themes available, they’re all pretty much the same thing with minor alterations. While several of the popular Joomla template creators have included design and layouts for EasyBlog, it’s only on an occasional basis – so the majority of their templates will not have designs that align with the platform. I will note that some of the templates did a great job of designing a layout for EasyBlog – but I certainly would not choose a template because of how the blog looks.

My second complaint is that by default, Easyblog turns most of their options on by default – this leads to bloated javascript and css files from both EasyBlog and its 3rd party integrations. In fact, every time I setup a website with EasyBlog I end up disabling many of the options – thankfully you can save time by exporting and importing settings!

I may be a little harsh on my review of EasyBlog, but I’ve been using it for several years now and it’s had the same look and feel and essentially the same features for the entirety of that time. It definitely has been stable though – I’ve had very few issues with upgrades, and their support has been excellent.

Pros:

  • Excellent feature set out of the box, with a handful of modules for promoting the blog across your website
  • Integrates with just about anything you would need for your blog

Cons:

  • Lack of unique design and layout options
  • Bloated default options, leading to a cluttered font-end with many unused features and poor performance if left as-is
  • Most expensive solution, costing $79/year to maintain if you want to keep your component up-to-date

Conclusion:

Best choice for quick deployment while having a massive set of features and integrations at your disposal. While the poor selection of design options and integration with templates is a let-down, that time saved can be used to apply your own – should you have the technical capabilities to do so.

It’s worth noting that EasyBlog is about to release their 5.1 version, which is going to include different layout options. I’ll update this blog once it is released and I have a chance to try it out.

Joomla Core

Using Joomla articles for blogging is still a viable option, especially for the DIY crowd. Despite the fact that setup may take longer for including features for commenting, social media, or newsletter integration, creating Joomla articles should already be a natural experience for administrators, making it easier to manage content.

A benefit of Joomla core is that many templating systems will already create blog layouts created, which allows for a more cohesive design without much effort. Additionally, for those looking to develop their own customizations or keep a slim number of features from 3rd party plugins, there is some opportunity to keep your blog more lightweight than the other solutions – at the cost of taking more time for implementation.

By choosing your own integrations, you can match nearly every feature that the other solutions offer. The only potential issue I have with this is that there will now be more extensions to maintain and update – which can cause problems in the future if the extensions you chose lose support.

Pros:

  • Layout and design integrates well with most templates
  • Most flexibility for choosing your own features and integrations
  • No need to learn additional administration interfaces

Cons:

  • Longer setup and implementation time
  • Implementing 3rd party extensions creates more points of failure

Conclusion:

Best option for the more technically capable who would like to keep a more “pure” Joomla installation. If you’re a developer who relies on templates to drive a more cohesive design and would rather spend more time implementing custom or 3rd party features, this may be a better choice for you.

ZOO - Yootheme                        

I’ve been a big fan of Yootheme products, and ZOO is no doubt a strong contender for a blogging solution. One of the things I love about ZOO is its simplicity – there are a few basic integrations for social media sharing, anti-spam (Akisment and reCAPTCHA), and commenting with Disqus, in addition to its own commenting system and basic features for categories and tagging.

ZOO is also extremely lightweight, so outside of files loaded on page from integrations there is very little bloat.

Their simplicity also extends to layout options, which there are not very many of – but ZOO does work well with any of the Yootheme templates, including their latest Yootheme Pro versions. For other templates, you will need to apply some of your own styling to get it to match the look and feel of the rest of the website.

Pros:

  • Simple configuration and lightweight component
  • Free to use the basic apps – which includes blogs
  • Basic integrations and features cover most blogging needs

Cons:

  • Limited list of layout options, integrations and features when compared to other platforms
  • Design will only match Yootheme templates, some additional styling will need to be applied for other providers

Conclusion:

Zoo is an excellent no-frills solution which works well with little customization. While it doesn’t have nearly as many options as EasyBlog, it should have plenty of functionality for most blogging needs.

K2

K2 is a very popular CCK (Content Creation Kit) that is meant to replace and add many features of Joomla. If you’ve already been implementing K2 regularly, then this may be an easy choice for you. For users wanting to try it out, administration isn’t that much different than managing Joomla core articles, so there isn’t much of a learning curve. However, K2

 K2 has a strong user community, and many templates are made specifically to integrate with their component. If you chose to use K2 for its powerful capabilities for content creation – for me the best use-case is for adding complex forms to store user-specific data – then it is perfectly capable as a blogging platform as well.

Pros:

  • Strong community and large selection of supported templates for design
  • Free to use, although some extensions may add their own charges
  • Large number of supported extensions for adding features

Cons:

  • Template design support still not as popular as using Joomla articles
  • Doesn’t add any unique features for blogging that make it a better choice over other platforms

Conclusion:

K2 is great for a handful of use cases, such as if a template you’re working with has K2 layouts, you’re already regularly implementing K2 in Joomla websites, or you’re using K2 for features you won’t find elsewhere. In my opinion, EasyBlog, ZOO or core Joomla articles will be a better choice in all other scenarios simply because you won’t have to rely on installing another component that has many features you probably won’t be using.

Wordpress Blogging Integrations

There are currently two options for integrating Wordpress blogs with your Joomla site:

Wordpress for Joomla, which allows you to run both Wordpress and Joomla simultaneously and is accompanied by Joomla modules to display your recent blogs on the Joomla side while using Wordpress as your blogging platform.

Wordbridge, which aggregates your wordpress.com blog posts (not to be confused with a Wordpress installation hosted on your own domain).

I’ve never used either of these extensions, but I can already see several reasons why I would avoid them.

Wordpress for Joomla has mostly good reviews, but despite that I can’t see why anyone would want to maintain both a Joomla and Wordpress website simultaneously on one domain. You’re opening yourself up to potential security flaws from both platforms, and may have to deal with integration issues when upgrading extensions/plugins or adding new features. What is being promoted as the best of both worlds is also the worst of both worlds, and I don’t see the added value.

As for Wordbridge, there may be a small amount of use cases, but it’s certainly not a good solution for any serious blogger. Having duplicate content is always a bad thing – and that’s exactly what Wordbridge is promoting.

The Rest

There are a few more components available on the JED, but none of them warrant being included in this review. The rest are a mixture of paid and free extensions which are not quite as capable as ZOO, which I consider the most relevant to their target audience.

I see no problem with deciding on which blogging platform works best based on the requirements for the website you are implementing it on. To be honest, if the website’s sole function was to be a blog, I would probably just use Wordpress.

For Joomla websites that you want to quickly implement a blog on, I think Easyblog and ZOO will work well for most users. If there’s a specific template you plan to use that has a nice integrated layout with Joomla articles or K2, that may be a better choice in that instance.

If you have some input on the topic, please sound off in the comments below!

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Monday, 17 December 2018

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    PETER S.

    Meet People Chicago

  • As a marketing communications person who knew my company needed an up-to-date website built in Joomla, I was very happy we found [Virgo Web Design]. I understood things from a content perspective, but when it came to back-end design and architecture, my hands were tied. [Virgo Web Design] was so knowledgeable and easy to work with, and was always available to answer questions, make tweaks, walk me through front-end editing tasks...you name it. [Virgo Web Design]'s accessibility and can-do attitude made such a difference to our entire team, and I hope I always thanked [them] enough for helping me through the client-side part of the web redesign process.

    CORRIE M.

    Aptude

  • "[Virgo Web Design] did an amazing job on my non-profit's website, ghhaven.org. [They] put our site together quickly and with all of the elements we requested - plus, [they] had a lot of great recommendations for things that we hadn't even considered for the site. [They were] very helpful throughout the process of getting our site launched and I found [them] to be quick in responding to all of my questions/requests as well. [They] even helped us get our business emails set up!

    I would definitely recommend Virgo Web Design as a go-to for all of your web design/development needs. I will definitely be using [them] again in the near future!"

    FRITZIE S.

    Genesis Hopeful Haven

  • [Virgo Web Design] has developed and designed multiple websites for me over the years. [Their] team are exceptionally skilled technicians. Their communication is easy to understand, and they are very proficient - even when near-end deadlines are demanding. Hiring Jerry Virgo and his team is one of the best decisions I have made for my company.

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    One Chicago Realty

  • I've used Yahoo sitebuilder for several years and my e-commerce website was due for an overhaul. I asked around & received several recommendations from friends & other small businesses.

    Many of the other referrals came from Web design firms & had significantly higher overheads/billing rates...We had a tight timeline & [they were] very diligent at following up to avoid production delays at time when I was extremely busy. [They] did a nice all around job improving my SEO optimization, creating a polished final product, and documenting the back end with an easy to use manual.

    After the site when live, [they] stood by & helped me troubleshoot unanticipated events & helped me create work arounds.

    Chris H.

    City Tree Delivery

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    DANK Haus

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