Joomla! 4 and Beyond: Target audience and a unified marketing message

Over the last year I’ve collected my thoughts on Joomla! the CMS, the project and the community. We’ve finally all come to the conclusion that Joomla! needs a revamp. The time is ripe to discuss the future. This is a very big subject so I’m going to present this as a series of blog posts. In this first installment we’ll talk about Joomla!’s target audience and a unified marketing message to frame our vision.

Before revamping a software product we need to identify the target audience. Who’s using it and why? Who do we want to use it and is it really possible? Is the product resonating with the target audience or do we need to change it? In other words we need to identify the target audience and create a unified marketing message.

The best place to start is a focus group. A collection of unbiased outsiders who will test drive our product and give us constructive feedback. This effectively happened last week at Harvard Extension as reported by the instructor, Jen Kramer. The students were not impressed with the balance between the learning curve and the control exerted over the outcome. But the more scathing feedback is this:

Finally, many commented on how much they disliked the community. The community, they concluded, focused too much on the commercial realm. Everything was about making money. There were too many extensions that were paid. There were too many people out for themselves, especially those in positions of leadership.

This hurts. They are telling us that the “something for everyone” marketing message has landed flat on its face. The product is not simple enough for casual users and not good enough for enterprise settings. This makes the –inevitable and in par with competitors’– commercialization look like a thinly veiled attempt in monetizing a bad product.

This feedback makes me think who Joomla! is targeting. It’s clearly not the casual user who wants to get something published on the web, fast. These people have no need for the powerful features, they just want to get things done easily. They will choose a self-hosted WordPress site for the perceived simplicity. The irony of writing these words in WordPress’ very efficient “focus mode” on my blog doesn’t go unnoticed by yours truly. Let’s also not forget that the majority of these people are not even CMS users: they are creating content on social media. Casual users crave for the “do not make me thing” approach of WordPress, hosted blogging services and social media.

The barrier to content creation on these platforms is non-existent. You can’t compete with that.

Does Joomla! appeal to the enterprise / commercial sector? No and it’s not just because a random collection of people at Harvard Extended said so. Joomla! doesn’t have a cat’s chance in hell of competing with the behemoths that Automattic (WordPress) and Acquia (Drupal) currently are. Just today we’ve read that Automattic bought WooCommerce, currently the most popular e-commerce software on the Internet.

Chew on that for a minute. WooCommerce is more popular than Magento, a product backed by the 400-pound gorilla called PayPal. WordPress has become a de facto e-commerce behemoth. It should be quite clear that Joomla! doesn’t have any realistic chance of competing in that sector.

What about bespoke sites? Does Joomla! appeal to that? Hardly so, I’m afraid. This niche is dominated on one hand by Drupal and on the other hand by established PHP frameworks such as Laravel, Zend Framework and Symfony.

While we were consumed in introversion over leadership structure these rivals have developed a massive corpus of readily available solutions to problems we haven’t even imagined.

Not to mention that the overall PHP community has a very negative view for Joomla!. Granted, they still remember Joomla! as it was in 1.0 and even 1.5, i.e. not the compelling development paradigm. But even today, Joomla! 3 is archaic by modern standards.

I can hardly imagine any corporate developer on their right mind messing with JTable and JModelLegacy instead of using Laravel.

This leaves us in the valley smack in the middle of simplicity and enterprise. Historically this was exactly Joomla!’s position as attested by countless comparisons of the “big three” (WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal) and the overall sentiment among the majority of users and developers. Granted, some of you do know of people using Joomla! for simple blogs and complex enterprise sites but these are the exceptions validating the rule.

Let’s refocus. How can we market Joomla! to people? Why should they use Joomla! instead of anything else?

Looking for inspiration I stumbled on the blog of Tower, the most popular Git GUI client for Mac OS X. These very smart people, who are not web developers, decided to build their own blogging application. Why? In their words: Using the most popular web software on the planet also means you’re using one of the most popular hacking targets.

We’ve solved this problem years ago and not just because we’re the second most popular CMS. Joomla! is one of the most secure CMS out there right out of the box. And it’s outright simple to make it airtight.

Marketing point: Joomla! is secure

The other important thing about Joomla! is that it’s cheaper than its competition when it comes to medium to high complexity websites. WordPress is fine for simple sites but if you want to integrate several advanced features, such as an e-commerce platform, it gets very complicated very fast. This is sort of the point behind Automattic buying WooCommerce, make no mistake about it. Drupal, on the other hand, requires you to write code or install dozens of modules for doing pretty much anything useful. Obviously PHP frameworks require you to write code for everything.

Joomla!, on the other hand can do a lot of very powerful things by just installing and configuring off-the-shelf extensions. The immediate advantage is that a small team, or even an individual, can create a complex solution which would require a significantly larger team and a proportionally higher budget with any other competitive solution.

Marketing point: Joomla! can be used by small shops for building medium to high complexity sites on a budget, using off-the-shelf software components.

Finally, we need to take a look at the identity of the competition. Even though both WordPress and Drupal are nominally community projects they are dominated by for-profit corporations (Automattic and Acquia) which exert indirect but strong control over the product. If nothing else, the CEOs of these two companies are the figure-heads of the respective product. In Drupal they even have a special term: benevolent dictator for life.

Joomla! is, was and hopefully will continue to be a “hippy” product. There is no figurehead. There is no corporate overlord. Joomla!’s core value is the embrace of openness and equality. When the other projects have based their structure on a dictatorship (benevolence of the dictator notwithstanding) Joomla! is –at least nominally– an open, grassroots project.

Marketing point: Joomla! is an open product, developed by and for the community.

TL;DR – The bottom line

Combining all these marketing points you can come up with a powerful, unified marketing message which frames our vision for Joomla! and resonates deeply with its user base.

Joomla! is an open product, developed by and for the community. It is used by end users, site integrators and SMEs to build medium to high complexity, very secure websites on a budget, using off-the-shelf software components they can install, configure and integrate themselves without prior experience with the system or requiring knowledge of PHP, HTML and CSS.

Let’s stop claiming that Joomla! is something for everyone. In the wise words of Sir Max Beerbohm “Only mediocrity can be trusted to be always at its best.” We don’t want a mediocre product which is equally bad for everyone – remember that this was the conclusion of our focus group for the current product. We need to simplify the marketing message and make our vision laser-focused. Remember the tagline of Joomla!’s predecessor Mambo? “Power in simplicity”. It’s time to reclaim our legacy.

To be continued: Joomla! 4 and Beyond: A vision for the end user.

68 Replies to “Joomla! 4 and Beyond: Target audience and a unified marketing message”

  1. Good post. The part about not needing prior experience with the system or requiring knowledge of PHP, HTML and CSS might be a stretch. 🙂

    1. I think the comment is spot on. Many of our clients have 0 knowledge and don’t want to have any. They just want to write content and that is it.

      Over all – great article Nic.

    2. You don’t need to know PHP, HTML and CSS to build a site with Joomla!. Of course this will only get you as far, but it’s far enough for most people. You can take off the shelf components, modules, plugins and templates to create a medium complexity site without knowing much more than clicking stuff on your browser.

      Granted, if you want to create a complex and good-looking site you will need to know some HTML and CSS. You will still only need actual PHP knowledge (as opposed to blindly copying stuff) when you’re neck-deep into very complex site building. So there’s that.

    3. i agree with this comment (but am otherwise in complete agreement with Nic). the reason is that there are many businesses that want to erect substantial websites with actual functionality that the easy sites can’t provide. a web site worthy of an SME is of necessity never going to be an easy build and Joomla! i feel has the right balance in this regard.

      in terms of Nic’s overall emphasis, i would suggest that Joomla! focus on improving the content editing environment, so end users can do their part with better facility. that’s where i think the Joomla! environment loses contact with the end user.

      1. And things like workflow, staging and so on but yes the main focus is making content creation suck less. After all we’re supposed to be making a Content Management System. Right now Joomla! is great as a web site building platform but its content management leaves much to be desired.

        I have to admit that seeing all the comments makes me more confident of the bullet points I have already written in my vision document. A lot of people, from coders to site integrators, have approached Joomla! from our different POVs and make pretty much the same conclusions. That’s really awesome! Not because there are problems, but because we all agree there are problems and even mostly agree on which problems we need to fix. That’s actionable. If it’s actionable it can be fixed.

  2. This is the kind of blog post and thought process we should be seeing from official working group teams like OSM, PLT, marketing, etc. Great that you are working to push this forward at such a critical time.
    Andrew Eddie is working on a similar revitalization push for the Joomla Framework Team as of yesterday.
    Good to see people stepping up. THANK YOU!!!

    1. I’m happy to help any way I can and you know it. If it takes someone from the outside to shake the tree and get things rolling I’m happy to be the tree shaker 😀 My thoughts on the Framework in the context of the CMS and the overall product strategy of the organisation will be in a future installment.

        1. Yes, I’d love to. Due to lack of space in my second-to-next post I will only make a passing reference. My idea is that the Framework can and should follow its own release cycle, development vision etc. The CMS will be using the Framework through Composer (allowing it to pin to specific releases for each FW package), not built on top of it a la Joomla! Platform. Likewise, if a problem springs from the [old, pinned version of the] FW the CMS people will do PRs on that old branch and a liaison between FW and CMS will assess and merge them. That’s inspired by Guzzle 3: deprecated but still in wide use, see Amazon AWS SDK for PHP.

          I’d love to get into more details about how to revitalize JFW and how to make it move forward right after JaB. I won’t have the necessary time before JaB. So around June 2rd send me an email and we’ll discuss further on this.

  3. Nicholas, Great perspective. The conclusions you came to essentially reflect the findings of Joomla’s SWOT Team’s results, along with recommendations of a marketing message and which audience to best target, which was all presented to, and by Joomla’s own Marketing Team. (Scroll to bottom for my short response summarized, as this turned into a blogpost in of itself—sorry! LOL)

    If you’re not already on that working group, you should join that working group, Nicholas, and help get the message out.

    Along with a SWOT Analysis of the framework and CMS offerings from Joomla, the Team also conducted a SWOT Analysis of the Community itself. As you mentioned in your comments, from an outsider’s/first-time user’s perspective via Jen Kramer’s group, the perception of the community’s organization (or in Joomla’s case, disorganization and disarray) does greatly affect first-time customers’ opinion of Joomla’s stability and longevity in the marketplace. They were turned off by a disorganized and disgruntled community, much as you are. For your own reasons, like many who are vested in Joomla, you chose to stay in the community, invest your time, talent and business acumen, providing suggestions and solutions for a better community experience.

    Right now, the SWOT Team concluded as you did in this blogpost, Joomla’s Community is both 1) its greatest asset; while simultaneously, 2) its greatest weakness, for precisely the reasons you pointed out above.

    So your point precisely illustrates why the Marketing & SWOT Team recommended putting the horse before the cart, and fix our community first, before launching a major marketing campaign.

    I’m a former Creative Director, from an advertising agency, Nicholas. One of the things I learned to embrace was an old saying: “Great advertising makes a bad product fail faster.”

    So, we’ve got a marketing message, and we’ve got a pretty outstanding product. The codebase isn’t perfect, but I guarantee you, it beats the snot out of WordPress or Drupal. It’s faster-performing, it’s more modular in its architecture, it’s a damn good extension management system for rapid application development. We also know what MARKET and personas to whom we should direct our message (you nailed it above). But we both know there are a few logical and somewhat painful to hear reasons why Joomla is stalled, and the others are making progress (along with their own sets of growing pains, mind you — the grass is not too many shades greener over there either, believe me). The primary focus for 2015 needs to be thorough and honest improvement of our community management. We haven’t stopped this racecar to change the oil, tires, or transmission for nearly a decade. So now, while we’re experiencing a lull, what better time to fix what we all know is broken? Once we get that right—and not until then—we can turn “ON” the marketing machine. Wow, I just noticed, I used up all of WordPress’s allotted storage on this server, so I’ll log out and let someone else comment.

    Overall Nicholas, I’m in total agreement with you, just needed to qualify (above) why I believe we haven’t yet pulled the trigger on releasing the marketing message you’re so passionate about, to the target audience you so rightly suggest.

  4. Thank you Nic for your vision! Much appreciated! And I couldn’t agree more on Reclaiming our Legacy.

  5. Wow! A great article. I have been getting sick of reading mediocre articles on Joomla everywhere, repeating the same stuff about why they use J or why people should use J or the perpetual favorite; WP vs J vs D.

    But this article identifies the correct issue ailing J and gives a very reasonable, believable and most importantly an achievable solution.

    I remember once on the unoffical FB group, when a WP user raised the issue of Js lack of extensions which were free. That guy was bashed by one and all. But there was truth in it, as explained above.

    I also think the last line of the bottleline quote is a bit of stretch!! But it can be changed. It has to change if J needs to go ahead.

    Can’t wait for the next part! Keep it up.

    Apologies for preferring to stay anonymous! 🙂

    1. Well, the WP guy’s criticism –and the resonation of that criticism in the focus group– is unjust and the product of a misperception. Let’s see what WordPress is doing, since this is what Joomla! is compared with.

      WordPress Plugin Directory only lists free of charge plugins. However, inside those listings, it’s perfectly allowed to list the features of your plugin’s commercial version, with a link to your purchase page, and not even clearly explain which features are NOT available in the free-of-charge version. Even worse, while the free version must be GPL the paid version doesn’t need to. If you have a proprietary version of your plugin, limiting your users’ freedoms, nobody is going to kick you out.

      On the other hand, the Joomla! Extensions Directory REQUIRES clear separation of free-of-charge and commercial plugins. You are NOT allowed to list the features of the paid version in the free version’s listing and you are NOT allowed to link to your purchase page from the free version. You MUST only list the features the user gets with the software they download. Even if you have a paid version you MUST provide it under GPL. In fact, Joomla! goes one step further and FORBIDS any extension to be listed by developers who make non-GPL Joomla! extensions available on their site.

      In short, Joomla! is better at protecting the users’ freedoms under the GPL than WordPress is. The rate of commercialization in both communities is exactly the same. The major difference is that WordPress users are less likely to pay for software because they confuse free as in beer with free as in speech. When you pay peanuts you are buying a monkey and that’s true for a hell of a lot of WP plugins. If developers make no money they have no incentive to provide a good quality product. This leads to bad, abandoned and insecure code. No wonder why plugins are the major gateway to hacked WP sites.

      Currently the best WordPress plugins come for a fee. And, man, are they expensive! A backup product which does less than JoomlaPack was doing in 2009 costs four times more than Akeeba Backup. Security products, same deal. Download managers which do more or less the same as the free offerings in JED cost north of $100. Developing professional sites on WordPress is more expensive than developing on Joomla!. Personal sites in both platforms should be fine with the free offerings. The guy in the FB group expected to develop professional sites without paying a dime which is simply possible in neither WordPress nor Joomla!. His only experience seemed to have been the development of personal, small sites on WordPress and then he jumped to Joomla! for professional site building. He was comparing apples to oranges.

  6. Nicholas you are Joomla, not this mediocre burocrats installed in the working groups and leadership teams. John Coonen that name sounds familiar to me…

    1. I am just a guy working from the sidelines. I am happy to help from any unofficial or official position. Badges are irrelevant. Some people crave for them, some people respect them, I just ignore them. It’s a simple question of can we get stuff done or not.

      As for other commenters, I have an open comment policy. Anyone is free to comment in this blog despite my opinion of them. I firmly believe that people are judged by actions. I am not going to moderate anyone but I’m not obliged to respond to people I don’t want to respond either. It’s a fairly simple moderation policy 🙂

    2. And until now, your name is unfamiliar to me, Xavier, I’m sorry. I don’t believe we have met. Perhaps one day we’ll meet in person, or work together remotely on something good, so and we can get to know each other, rather than talk around each other. That would be nice.

  7. First of all nice article, a good read not complicating things with voting and structural changes 🙂

    But i have a question about the one marketing point: “Joomla! is an open product, developed by and for the community.”

    If the focus group says : “Finally, many commented on how much they disliked the community. The community, they concluded, focused too much on the commercial realm. Everything was about making money. There were too many extensions that were paid. There were too many people out for themselves, especially those in positions of leadership.”

    If the “public opinion” is that the community is disliked, then it would be wrong to use it as a marketing point?
    Or did I misunderstood something

    1. The focus group complained about the perceived commercialization of the community. As I explained in the other comments this a misconception. WordPress is more strongly commercialized. Under the pretext of the plugin directory not allowing paid extensions to be made available (yet, perfectly allowed to be listed as long as there is also a free, installable version) this commercialization is lost on its users. In my opinion this is a bait and switch strategy of the worst kind. Especially with the price tags I see. Seriously, would you pay $240 for Akeeba Backup instead of about $45 (with the current exchange rate)? Because that’s happening right now in WordPress.

      Also let’s not forget that WordPress and Drupal do have corporate overlords. They do not control the majority of the development teams but I say that if the key people with commit access are in a company’s payroll then it’s safe to say that the product belongs to the company more than it belongs to the community. Joomla!, on the other hand, is not subject to a corporate overlord. We embrace openness. I see that as a strength, but ONLY if leadership listens to the community. This allows us to claim that hey, Joomla!’s direction is not pinned to a CEO making his investors happy, it’s based on what its users want. That’s a huge selling point, don’t you think?

  8. Joomla needs to decide whether it’s a social club for developers and users, or a community laser focused on producing a software application. The latter is what I want to be involved with and to be involved, I need to know what it’s plan is (and I’m willing to help providing there are people willing to plan a plan).

    If the latter, Joomla needs to pull it’s head out of the sand and realise it has competitors, and those competitors have a commercial mandate to making sure Joomla gets pushed further and further into mediocrity (no matter what they say in public). Therefore, there needs to be as much analysis on what the competition are doing right as what we are doing wrong.

    Joomla also needs to realise that it is competing with companies with budgets, and while the “we only use unpaid volunteers” is all warm and fuzzy, it means the community as a whole needs to get off the “hippy” (as you put it Nic) merry-go-round and think much smarter. It’s a noble thing to ideal (to do things with no budget) but it doesn’t “just happen”. You can’t afford mistakes. You can’t afford to let silly dramas distract production every day (and I mean that literally). You can’t afford to let whiners whine on and on and on. You can’t afford not to plan. You can’t afford to allow every other developer and template designer to invent their own way of solving the same problem with their own frameworks. You can’t afford for everyone not to be working TOGETHER!

    The call for a target audience is also spot on. My feeling is we lost the low end of the market to WordPress a long time ago, but most Joomla devotees are still in denial about that fact. I know for a fact that Joomla is not enterprise ready (because even “I” am recommending to enterprise not to use it, and everyone I know in enterprise on Joomla is getting off it). But I think there is still a sweet spot in the site implementor market and those are the people that we should pander to. That means Joomla needs to clean up a lot, but mostly making it easier for in-house developers and designers to customise, and making sure their customers are thrilled with the experience they produce.

    At the very least we should have a brochure that shows here’s how convoluted it is in WordPress, here’s Drupal, now sit back with a cold drink and see how easy the same thing is with Joomla. Sip – Ahhhhh!

    Lot’s of things need to change. People who do not want necessary change, in my opinion, need to get out of the way. Apologies if that is seen to be a blunt and heartless statement.

    And why is this site powered by WordPress and I use Jekyll for my blog? Hopefully that says something …

    1. Andrew, spot on. Third time in a row I agree whole-heartedly with you. I can see a trend forming here 🙂

      I do agree that we’re past the point where unpaid volunteers were enough to write the code. I think that we need a paid project manager and a lead developer, as long as there are goals set in stone and the reporting to prove that we’re getting our money’s worth. In other words, if you start paying people treat it as a business. I know that when you and Louis were being paid that was the intention but the execution, how to put it mildly, sucked big time and poisoned the well for all those years later. I was wrong for not pointing out what exactly the missing bit was back then instead of merely saying that paid development was wrong without explaining it. My bad.

      And yes, we do need to work all together and we do need to treat our software as a PRODUCT because this is what it really is. The competition does kick our butts big time telling prospective clients how much better they are than this stalled hippy thing. Those of us invested in Joomla! know that a medium to high complexity site is built faster, cheaper and better (as in: more robust and secure) using Joomla! than either WordPress or Drupal. There’s no shame in marketing it as such. At least in the USA – Europeans are still a bit shy on the negative comparison.

      Lot’s of things need to change. People who do not want necessary change, in my opinion, need to get out of the way. Apologies if that is seen to be a blunt and heartless statement.

      Blunt, yes. Heartless, no. Even the sharpest knife blunts, rusts and needs to be replaced. The real leaders know when and how to step down.

      On a side note, my blog is in WordPress not because it’s easier for me to blog with it (not since JCE added the full page mode at least). The commenting system is killing me, marking all my comments as spam and I’m the bloody admin! Duh, would I spam myself? Clearly something fundamental is amiss, but I digress. I use WordPress because I do develop a WordPress backup solution. My policy is that I eat my own dog food. I needed a real world WP site, so here it is. It also gives me perspective on how it feels like using the competition. The one thing I liked is how they have an iPad app… whenever it doesn’t disagree with the security plugin I use and locks me out of my site.

      1. Sounds like we (as in you and me and a few other pro-change people) need to form an independent focus group ourselves 🙂

  9. why don’t we leave Joomla & its brand for a second & think about the people & the problem.
    i think we should create a CMS for contents, not contents for CMS.
    what about node base ui CMS where things can be created like a flow chart.
    why we always think about website instead of information & content
    why should we create a CMS for website why not for smart information cards (for mobile) , like small piece of content with some functionality , intelligent & some call of action that’s it.
    what about small smart chunk of information
    what about a CMS , just using google doc or other platefrom api

    *i think website are bullshit its time for smart chunk of information

    1. Hemant, if you think that “website are bullshit its time for smart chunk of information” then you should not be using Joomla! or WordPress or Drupal or… The simple reason being that all of these are website creation systems. There are also issues regarding discoverability of content and so on but I don’t want to burst your bubble. If you truly believe that the future lies in disorganised content which will magically be made available and people will want to consume you’re free to try that with your own non-site. Let us all others work towards building sites which use snippets of information, presented in any format (be it “cards” or “push messages” or whatever have you), as supplemental tools to aid in conversion.

  10. Spot on overall. Just one question to Andrew and Nic.. You say Joomla is not for enterprise .. Can you ellaboratr.. Maybe tell 10 things that make it unfit for enterprise ?

    1. The main selling point for Joomla in the Enterprise is the easy with which you can install many extensions and get a site doing something.

      But any developer who has done that knows it is a nightmare. It’s not the core, it’s what you add to the core. So with that in mind, here’s the enterprise level problems:

      Extension developers do their own thing TOO much (no, I’d don’t want to install F0F and Nooku and X and Y and Z just to make my site work).
      Developers override core functionality the wrong way (I’m looking at you Warp).
      Developers don’t follow the Joomla Way of doing things.
      Developers don’t follow SOLID principles (just S – Single Responsibility Principle – would be something).
      Developers don’t think about how their extension will scale for sites with tens of thousands of users or items of content.
      Developers don’t profile their database queries when sites get really large.
      Developers use system plugins to workaround problems where they should be using libraries.
      Some extensions try to play nice with others, most don’t.

      For Joomla itself.
      9. Some plugins simply don’t make sense (there’s a case where a user or auth plugin doesn’t have access to the user id – seriously?)
      10. The menu-module system is just a constant battle to convince Joomla it’s on the page you want it to be on.
      11. The entire Joomla codebase is in desperate need of reform.

      This can be summarised by saying there is insufficient synergy within the extension community, and insufficient product management from the core leadership (oh there are reasons why that is so, but that doesn’t matter).

      Enterprise is looking for reliability and productivity and return on investment. Joomla doesn’t deliver because enterprise doesn’t make a distinction between the core product and developer extensions. It’s all the same to them.

      1. I disagree that Joomla! by and large would be benefitted by forcing The Joomla! Way and SOLID down the throats of everyone. Not to mention that the rate and depth of change is so randomly allocated that makes it impossible for any developer to have a product strategy, let alone a business strategy. Take this from someone who was doing things The Joomla! Way from 2006 to 2012 and spent many sleepless nights trying to work around unnecessary, undocumented core changes. Why do you think Nooku and FOF were written?

        I do agree that if you want to build an enterprise application you need to do the exact opposite of what Joomla! is doing. Then again, you need to do the exact opposite of what WP and Drupal is using. Is it any wonder enterprise users use PHP frameworks (or even NOT PHP at all) instead of any FOSS CMS? Not really.

        The Joomla! Framework could be targeting enterprise applications. I just don’t think that carrying the Joomla! brand is a good thing in this pursuit. This is what I was saying a year ago. I do see the need for JFW I just don’t think its name serves either Joomla! or the FW itself. It’s a bit like the Apple printers of mid-1990s: they devalued the Apple brand and nobody would take them seriously (even though they were actually very good, reputable but rebranded printers!).

        1. Damn, we were on such a good roll 🙂

          I’d love developers to embrace SOLID because it’s a better plan than “I make things up as I go” 🙂 What I mean is I’ve seen so much core where developers are trying to shovel too many responsibilities into a single method (oh, like let’s have one function does 20 things, and then lets send an email at the end for good measure). Guys, you are making it really hard for me to fix the bit in the middle that’s not working.

          Yes, yes, Joomla 1.5 should have been 2 and 1.6 should be been 3 – I know, I know. But I am seeing devs doing crazy things with overriding overrides and they end up completely corrupting the original idea (end result is I can’t fix a problem because they changed the way overrides behaved). So for that example, respecting the “Joomla Way” is extremely important.

          1. Andrew, I don’t disagree with you on principle. I only disagree in practice. I do understand that supermegamodels with supermegamethods should be going the dodo way. This led me to do things like this as a first refactoring pass: https://github.com/akeeba/akeebasubs/tree/development/component/frontend/Model/Subscribe The thing is that refactoring just this one (admittedly insanely badly written over 4 years) Model takes one developer a week. Refactoring the entire Joomla! codebase AND testing it to make sure nothing broke would take far more than we can afford 🙁 Clean code is a laudable goal but we need to ship a product before we completely become irrelevant.

            Regarding overrides and stuff, I agree with you. When I wrote FOF I decided to stick to the Joomla! Way. I did add media overrides and it was so successful it got imitated in the core. That’s the sincerest form of flattery 🙂 I disliked JLayout –even though it’s a good idea on principle– because it’s adding one parallel universe of overrides, leading to cognitive overload. Why not use the same override locations as the rest of the CMS and fall back to the “system” template when no override is found is beyond me.

            So, some things are practical to fix (JLayout) some are impractical (core Models). Would I love everything have small, testable methods doing one thing and one thing only? Yes. Do I think it’ll happen with Joomla! in this lifetime? Probably not. Maybe a small core could be cleanly refactored but there are so many layers of cruft we most likely just don’t have the time and warm bodies to clean them up.

  11. This is in many ways in a direct continutation of the Work in the SWOT Team and in the WHY Team and in the LT Team working on this after JAB14.

    Point by point is found in these teams Works in the last years time and there is a broad concensus forming we should Work in this direction.

    However i, and others, raised one important point i think that is missed a Little here.

    Let me use the “vision” as the example:

    “Joomla! is an open product, developed by and for the community. It is used by end users, site integrators and SMEs to build medium to high complexity, very secure websites on a budget, using off-the-shelf software components they can install, configure and integrate themselves without prior experience with the system or requiring knowledge of PHP, HTML and CSS.”

    If you split our users into 2 primary Groups.

    1) Those that are working with Building websites
    2) Those that are working in Companies or organizations that needs a website

    Its quite clear that if you are from Group 1 – the “vision” (or the why) is pretty clear and mentiones community, integrators etc. – its still a Little muddy if you ask me.

    Now lets focus on Group 2 – the “vision” is gone.
    Its a non marketable message.
    If i send that to a potential client they will not chose us as its not clear enough.

    So whats the problem?

    The community is not the product – the product is not the community.

    Our community does actually have a super clear why – our community is actually quite broad and can be even broader and i think the why for being in the community in many ways is very clear – just look at our conferences like JAB or JWC.

    But where we substantially lack a marketable message is to the endusers – not the users.

    So we need something thats marketable enough for the endusers to be communicated out and to be the primary focus.

    I dont even think we need a total new joomla 4.0+ to make this happen – to be honest then while we build j2.5 and j3 and made a Whole new level and layers of code and where extremely code focused – WordPress did NOTHING and still won the market in the bottom. The only thing WP actually did was promise you could always update (which is easy when your code is 8 years old).

    So with NO better code they won the market – is a conclusion where we yet Again focus only on code a right direction and a right vision?

    I dont think so.

    We need to identify the segments we want to target – agreed.
    We need to identify the NEEDS of those segments we target.
    We need to develop the FEATURES that forfull those NEEDS of the segments we target.
    There needs to be a direct relation between the WHY, what you CODE and WHO your users are.

    It does not per say mean that we have to completely rewrite all code to get there – on the contrary.

    Some quick ideas that is in the Works or could be, could very well be very targeted:

    New Media Manager (that actually looks like its from this decade) is in Progress. (Lowend + Midend + Highend)
    Webservices is in Progress (in part found in redCORE right now) (Midend + Highend)
    New template built for Endusers and not for users (I have a project running here that we recently presented to Pete Bui in the Accessability WG to continue Work with) (Lowend + Midend + Highend)
    (Frontend) Content Creation Wizard – Makes it easier to create content + module + menu item etc (Lowend + Midend + Highend)
    More secure codebase / Security layer to compensate (admintools is a good example) (Lowend + Midend + Highend)
    Etc.

    The point is we need to make sure that there is a relation between what we do, the roadmap we have and the segments we target.

    I would claim that for 10 years we just coded based on ideas and inputs etc. but it was not part of a structured, organized effort to forfil some needs of our userbases – and if you look at the current Roadmap its perhaps longer reaching and clearer than ever – but still just focused on small feature parts with no bigger plan or vision.

    In the Why Team there is currently focus on a few different segments:
    Agencies (Web/Design/Advertising) – This is where WP is actually used and the base of their success (Why is that and what features are needed to get those to use Joomla instead).
    End Users (Working in Cooperations, Organizations etc) – This is where WP is found to be easier to learn and understand why is this? and how do we change that.
    Enterprise – The big market – Joomla actually does this very good – and Drupal has nothing on Joomla when it comes to that, Drupal has a more suppliers that are big and Joomla more 1-2 person suppliers – why is that? and what can be done to get Joomla to be more attractive to the bigger agencies etc. that does this.

    So i agree Security is a BIG market disruption compared to what WP does right now – it could and would rock the board.
    Security would also high both lowend, midend and highend market parts.

    I am not sure i entirely agree the middle market is the right place to compete or to make disruption – because the lowend has extended up to almost the middle – and the enterprise has also extended downwards also almost into the middle – so in reality the middle market is very small today as its heavily competed by both the top and buttom of the market.

    So i think we need to make it Simpler, we need to make it Smarter, we need to make it Quicker, we need to make it for Someone.

    So to define a WHY you should always define a WHO you are that WHY to – and for us i think its important that we do not mix our community why with out product why – its 2 different Things and 99% of our end users doesnt care that we are community driven – so it needs to be a lot more spot on to the actual users asking themselfes “Whats in it for me” when they assess which CMS to use.

    I would like to also share the design work we did sofar to try and identify a new administrator template that was focused on things that is relevant to an end users and not a site integrator:

    http://www.redweb.dk/ronni/joomlabackendtemplate.zip

    Its around 3mb and png files zipped – there is some select views on desktop, tablet and mobile – as you can see its usercentric so admin views are based on what a end user would need Joomla for.

    We do have a html mockup of most of it too and i would like to put this into a new team (that works with the accessability team) that could Work on making this happen – i personally think that this is where the users truely meet the CMS for the first time and go “ohhh this looks hmm complex” and where we currently Loose the first battle vs. WP – and we shoulndt.

    I hope to talk more on this at JAB and lets make something happen!

  12. I will give you an C- on your comment because you didn’t even read the top and bottom where I clearly say that THIS IS THE FIRST PART of the series :p The next posts which I’ll be publishing throughout the week have to do with:
    * Features for end users (which is what your comment is about)
    * Features for designers
    * Features for developers
    * Overall services provided (because these are too part of our product)

    Also I want to remind you that Joomla!’s clients are those who are building websites, no matter where they work for. See the message I wrote, it talks about “end users, site integrators and SMEs”. SME means Small to Medium Enterprise which is a tautology to “companies or organizations”. So, really, I’m not saying anything different.

    Let me say this again. This first post is NOT the vision. It’s just about answering the question of “how do we want to frame our vision?” You clearly need a different vision if you’re trying to cater for the casual don’t-wanna-think user (dominated by WordPress) or the hardcore Corporate Behemoth developer (for the reasons Andrew clarified much better than yours truly). Now that I’ve established that we’re targeting “end users, site integrators and SMEs” I can deploy my vision. You just have to wait. Writing these long posts and keep working on my day job is hard enough without having to prove I’m not an elephant all the time 😀

    1. Actually i used “vision” because i coulndt find a metter way to describe it – i had hoped the ” ” signaled that but i can see it could be misunderstood.

      My main point was to differentiate between an inner and an external vision – and to set focus on the difference of what fuels our community and what is a product strategy thats tied to end users needs.

      Did you try and download the design proposal for a new Joomla Administration template? 🙂

      1. Ah, now I understand what you mean. Vision is the overall concept we have as an organisation to move forward. The other thing you put in quotes is our targeted marketing messages, our user stories. Yes, of course, these are two different things. The unified marketing message is the foundation on which the user stories are based. The vision is the foundation of our product.

        As for the template, sorry, I forgot to comment. I do like the flat look. I’m sure that 50% of our users will love it and the other 50% will hate it, because people… Seriously, I think it’s a GREAT presentation. It follows the current design trends, it helps me locate information, it’s uncluttered, I love it. However! I am more interested in how these graphics translate to CSS, namely a solid CSS framework or CSS abstraction layer. For all I know your graphics can be rendered with a skinned version of Bootstrap 2, Bootstrap 3, jQuery UI and so on and so forth. You’ll have to wait for part 3 of this series to get into the details for designers. Please don’t comment just yet.

        There are SO MANY topics we all need to discuss about Joomla! 4 and beyond. I only touched the first 15% or thereabouts in this post. You’ll have to be patient for another 2-5 days until I get the chance to cover all the other topics you are touching. You don’t really want me to post a 6,000 word braindump that will completely bog your mind, right? :p

        1. Actually 6000 word brain dump posts are ok with me 😉

          The end-user centric admin template design was an intern project that ran here as part of an exam project for a digital designer.

          She worked on for 3 months and we mentored in her (Mary) in the process – and she got an A at the exam 😉

          I would hope that we can set down a subteam somewhere to hopefully take the outputs of this into creating a better End User experience – and hopefully we can then make sure its done with the right code quality and technology behind it 🙂

          Looking forward to the next post.

  13. Hi Nikos,

    I think its good that this blog post analysis comes from someone that deeply know Joomla technically but also understand generally software development, have long term business experience, understand the CMS market condition(s) and get insights into whats matters = the potential target customers of Joomla world wide and what t h e y want! Code is fun but it doesnt have any value if nobody use it.

    The code and trademarks or whatever will be obsolete and vanish slowly if Joomla and its people not try harder, smarter to do the right things to meet up with today and future competition conditions where Joomla compete against let it be WordPress, Drupal,…., cloud blogs, cloud CMSs, Google SSO systems or whatever that can make people ignore Joomla.

    Thinking..

    Who are we targeting and how do we market to that market(s) ( people) ?

    What do we want to achieve and how do we measure our progress? How can we do that?

    How do our marketing web site, http://www.joomla.org, target different users?
    Decisions makers, tech developers, end users of websystems (bloggers), Uni students (future users/developers/ambassadors for Joomla..) etc and where is the focus and importance?

    Make a rank of how much our web site Joomla.org fulfill these different target groups information/marketing needs. Analyze how much of our site 100% have different information/marketing to different groups and rethink, refocus of what information that is needed for people that.

    Decisions makers
    Tech developers
    Uni students
    End users
    …..

    If our information is 80% focused of information on tech developers (new Joomla version 1,2,3 shown etc etc) on our main site maybe that need only to be 20%. If our information/marketing is only 1% to uni students that maybe should be raised to 10%. If our information/marketing is only 4% target to decision makers then this figures should be 50-60%! If our information to target group end users of Joomla is only 2% maybe that have to be 20% etc.

    So define, analyze, set the direction on what Joomla stands for and how we target/marketing that to different important target groups.

    Love Joomla! bcs we are a group of volunteers that want to change the world!

    1. @ssnoben Consolidating the gazillion sites will be part 4 or 5 of this series of posts. As for the marketing message to each market segment, do you really appeal to all those markets? Hardly. Bloggers are not in your target audience. Decision makers are not either because they decide based on business needs, not marketing hoopla. If all they have is WP devs or Laravel devs they won’t choose Joomla! because it’s expensive. This means we have to make sure that there many J! devs / integrators available. So here’s your core target audience. University students are of course part of your target audience because, as you said, they will be the future devs / integrators. Miss them and you’re on the track to extinction.

      @sakis You guys need to stop confusing branding with marketing. Everyone and their dog knows WordPress because Automattic is a public company. Same with Drupal/Acquia. Joomla! is NOT a corporate product. This is our strength, this is what we need to market. But most importantly we need a GOOD PRODUCT. We’re trying to be all things to all men. This is impossible unless you want to suck equally for everybody. We need to fix that. Then we can market a GOOD product to more people. Simply put, the product we have right now is not good enough to market efficiently.

  14. I agree about a more specific target group and a message. But this is not enough.

    WordPress has a very strong brand name and is really hard to compete it, even if you change your message and your code’s arhcitecture. This is the known solution by the “Do it fast” user and also the most popular cms for non-tech guys.

    Joomla! needs a more aggressive marketing strategy. More effective ways to attract users. Needs to raise awareness outside the Joomla! world.
    Such strategies are almost non-existent now

  15. Nikos,

    I just want to do a comment on something I didnt read before post here.

    “Also I want to remind you that Joomla!’s clients are those who are building websites, no matter where they work for.”

    I dont agree with your perception here and the people that build web site will never come close to do anything with Joomla i f the decision makers are not happy and have confident with Joomla.

    The people that building web sites are are not the clients, they are the web site builders. Thats step 2 after a decision is taken..

    1. No. What you describe is step 4. Step 1: we need a site, make a call for offers. Step 2 integrators submit their offers and make their pitch. Step 3 an offer is selected and contract is signed. Step 4 the site is built. You assume that step 1 stipulates the CMS. It mostly doesn’t unless there is a specific need (the person running the project is only familiar with a particular technology or his IT department only has people with specific skills). It’ she integrators job to convince the client and our job to make the integrator’s life easier by providing a good product and the material he needs to convince his client. We need example cases and comparisons and graphs. E cannot currently have them because our product is not good enough.

      1. hmm ok not my experience Nic.

        “No. What you describe is step 4. Step 1: we need a site, make a call for offers.”

        That was the situation in the 90ies when I doing sites for people in html code and there were 14.4kb modems 🙂 Though I had a leased line 320kb since 1995 my self.

        Today small and medium sized companies, organizations doesn’t “need” a site. They already have one and they have experience of what people complain about or like. If you have a terrible Media Manager today – you are out!

        And that is important input if you should change or keep what you have. If people are used to blog private in WordPress and like it why change it in the company? Thats about productivity measures that top level mgt understand and listening to.

        So before they call the integrator, 9 out of 10 times, people have already decided what publishing CMS you prefer to use and thats how it will be. If you are a specialized Joomla integrator and dont understand why you not get any calls – thats why you dont do any WordPress, Drupal integrations. The decision is already made. If you try to convince them of Joomla instead you have trouble..

        So they, formal and informal decision makers, will also decide to change or keep the existing web publishing system they already have thats my experience. Even companies I have been working with changed from Joomla to WordPress just bcs top management want to have an “easier” publishing platform that they have “heard” is “easier”, “quicker” and “better” etc than Joomla.

        People now know about Facebook interface and how to publish content, maybe have a blog (Blogger) or use WordPress format for part of the companies web system and they are influencing how content should be used, communicated, published and written.

        Facebook test every new change and feature 3 months before they make it live to the Facebook community – how many end users test do we do for our community when we introduce new features? Not technical tests… What people need ask want from famouse Media Manager just to mention one…

        We can learn a lot from what Facebook and others doing and focus where Joomla have most complains and fix that. And this is about understand what priority of function UX is and not about code…

  16. Thanks Nicholas for this great post. As working both with Joomla! and WordPress as site builder and trainer for users-administrators (mainly SMEs), I noticed (but of course, I guess it’s something well known) that the most difficult part to Joomla!’s acceptability is its media manager. Nowadays, people are used on social networks to post very simply images, videos, documents just uploading from hard drive or sharing a link. Quite complicated to explain that you first have to upload it on media manager, then to choose the right media in article by ‘Insert image’ at the bottom of text editor, and not with ‘image’ button of text editor, furthermore with very poor image settings available. Or to type {youtube}codeofthevideo{/youtube} to actually see video (this one is not even an in-house Joomla! functionality). Same ‘illogical’ stuff to link part of a text to another article. Of course, there are many very good third party extensions (text editors, media managers, …) to achieve it more easely, but out of the box media management is hugely responsible of the image of non-user-friendly Joomla!.

    1. Absolutely correct. The Media Manager in Joomla! is a decade overdue for a major rewrite. Everyone in the right mind have been using JCE’s media manager instead. But let’s face it, Joomla! is a Content Management System, it does need a good Media Manager.

      I think I should put it as the first point in my next post in this series. It was going to be further down the list but since it’s the one thing everyone is talking about I guess it guarantees the out-of-sequence mention right upfront.

  17. I can’t say that I agree that the best place to start is with a focus group. Marketers have discovered that focus groups are notoriously unreliable.
    I can’t get to Jen Kramer’s original reporting but…
    I doubt that this group was unbiased. I don’t think you can find anybody that hasn’t heard or doesn’t believe the common wisdom that WordPress is the easiest and best CMS, no matter how erroneous that statement is.
    Community is a lousy marketing point. If there are benefits to community, those might be marketing points.
    I’ve noticed that in the WordPress community, there are many that are vociferously outspoken against Joomla. In the Joomla community, we tend to be more fair minded. Maybe we are too fair. Let’s claim our strengths, which we have many.
    Joomla has been awful at PR and evangelizing its strengths. Joomla has better technology that WP, and has for years. But how does that translate into benfits for corporations, organizations, web publishers, and web contributors?
    About that focus group. Had they been shown the WP article submission screen, and a Joomla front end article submission screen, their ‘ease of use’ perceptions would be different.
    Had they been asked to add metadescriptions to articles, and make sure that caching is working, then they would have had different perceptions.
    Had they been asked to rearrange the presentation of the articles (list, blog, etc), change the postion of a module/widget, or make sure that an article expires and unpublishes at the end of the week, their perceptions would be different.
    Had they been required to make a structured post type (CCK) their perception would be different.
    Sure, it’s a lot easier to fly a kite than it is to fly an airplane. Try hauling passengers coast to coast in a hang glider and you see how simple can get complicated and disastrous really quickly.
    We have several markets.
    Business owners and decision makers.
    Site developers
    Extension developers
    Contributors / maintainers
    The joomla.org web site needs to quickly get each of them to appropriate resources for making decisions and getting what information they need. Right now, joomla.org does a lousy job of advertising benefits in the header.
    So, what does each market need most?

    1. Forget the focus group. Let’s think about a few tasks that the end user –the people who are tasked with the upkeep of the site’s content– want to perform.

      Write content. Joomla!’s screen is crowded. WordPress? When you start typing the first few words it automatically switches to a distraction free environment.

      Paste a picture. In Joomla! you have to first go to the Media Manager. Upload. Go back to your article. Click on the correct media insertion button (because we have two, kill me now!). Find the image you uploaded. Does it look right? No? Delete, re-insert. WordPress: drag’n’drop.

      Paste an embedded YouTube video or Tweet. No can do without 3PD plugins and clumsy plugin codes. WordPress: Go to YouTube, copy link, paste it in WordPress and magically it’s embedded.

      Link to other content. In Joomla! you have to use the correct button because somehow having two link buttons makes sense. In WordPress the unified link dialog guides you through.

      All these can only be fixed if you install JCE. Granted, Joomla! + JCE beats WordPress any day of the week, as long as you don’t mind Joomla!’s complicated menu creation process. How many first time users ever heard of JCE? This drives them away.

      There are more things that everyone despises in Joomla!, even us developing it and with it. Give me about 3-4 hours and I’ll publish a new post about that.

      1. Absolutely! Reminds me that about a decade ago, in Joomla! 1.0.x (jeez! feel old!), there was a tab ‘create a link in menu’ in articles, so you didn’t had to go to menu management to create link. As I remember (sorry, I can’t test, all my old J! 1.0.x websites are archived), it was only to add a first level menu item, but maybe it would be useful to have a look at history to perform the future…

        1. You are correct, there was this option. For some reason it was removed from Joomla! 1.5. Maybe it should come back, similar to how WP deals with Pages.

        2. Write content. Joomla!’s screen is crowded. WordPress? When you start typing the first few words it automatically switches to a distraction free environment.

          I would hate that. Didn’t really care for all the tabs with the Bootstrap upgrade. I felt that made for more ‘hunting’ while earlier version had things like meta-descriptions and publication control right there. I understand that compromises needed to be made, but this is one of those changes that made Joomla backend imperfect for both desktop and tablet.

          Paste a picture. In Joomla! you have to first go to the Media Manager. Upload. Go back to your article. Click on the correct media insertion button (because we have two, kill me now!). Find the image you uploaded. Does it look right? No? Delete, re-insert. WordPress: drag’n’drop.

          I agree, but this doesn’t affect me that much because I rely on jce editor. I understand that a new media manager is on the way. But hey, don’t you work with multple tabs in your browser? Or multiple browser windows?

          Adding articles to menu would be great without having to add a plugin.

          Being able to get to a page using SEF url without having to add that page to a hidden menu would also be great.

          So I must concede that there are some ‘out of the box’ usability issues with Joomla. There are ‘out of the box’ issues with WP & D too. We need to fix our issues, and champion our strengths to those that would benefit from them.

          Joomla is still the most complete, secure, easily extendable, and technically advanced general purpose CMS.

  18. that made Joomla backend imperfect for both desktop and tablet.

    Actually, it made Joomla! more usable on a tablet. Take that from someone who’s been mostly using Joomla! 1.5 through 3.4 on the 10″ screen of an iPad to manage all his sites. There is a tab overload, I’ll give you that. In Joomla! 1.5 to 2.5 there was a slider overload. The only difference is that more options were added… and I have a solution for that in the blog post I’ll write today 😀

    I rely on jce editor.

    Thank you, that was exactly my point. The core experience of content creation sucks so damn hard that we all have to rely on JCE and other 3PD WYSIWYG editors. Newcomers have no idea these things exist!

    Adding articles to menu would be great without having to add a plugin.

    Amen.

    Being able to get to a page using SEF url without having to add that page to a hidden menu would also be great.

    Amen squared. Routing and menu items should be decoupled. Dammit, people, stop giving away all the points I want to make in today’s post 😀

    So I must concede that there are some ‘out of the box’ usability issues with Joomla. There are ‘out of the box’ issues with WP & D too. We need to fix our issues, and champion our strengths to those that would benefit from them.

    That. Anyone who’s left Joomla! for WP or D has seen that the pasture isn’t really greener there. It’s the same shade of yellow, they’re just better at spray-painting it green when they shoot it for the brochure. I firmly believe that Joomla! can have BOTH a compelling product AND good marketing, leading to an increase in its market share. There, I spelled it out 🙂

    1. “Anyone who’s left Joomla! for WP or D has seen that the pasture isn’t really greener there”

      What happens is users get frustrated by some aspect of the site that is not related to the platform – usually, it about lack of visitors, sales and leads. This is not a Joomla problem, this is a SEO and marketing issue.

      Then, out of this frustration the user jumps to another platform and what happens is the process of re-building a site focuses or re-focuses the users attention on the issues that were causing the lack of sales.

      It is not the new platform, it is thinking about the website again, re-structuring content, layout and many small things that will make the site better. But of course the new platform will be praised as being better than Joomla as result, rather than what really was the catalyst for re-evaluating their business.

  19. Actually, it made Joomla! more usable on a tablet.
    I don’t consider a tablet to be a productivity tool. It is a content consumption tool. So I don’t see the point of making Joomla administration tablet friendly at the expense of traditional PC / MAC interface.
    I tried to revert to the older administrator template (2.5 version) when Joomla first went to Bootstrap in administrator area. That broke things, so I couldn’t do it.
    All in all, though, it’s way better than WP. I was baffled me for a while at how to add a custom html widget in WP. And I was astounded that there was no editor on that feature. That’s one of the reasons why I contend that WP is not yet a complete CMS.

    1. This is the wrong approach. There are many people who utilize mobile devices to manage their sites. Out on the road – open up your phone or your iPad. Out on the beach and want to write up some content for your site – get your your iPad.

      I never use myself as a use case anymore – you have to listen to your audience.

      1. @Steve Pignataro – can you see your phone or ipad screen in the sunlight? I don’t have one digital device that is worth a damn at the beach.

        @Nicholas – So if you had whipped out an ipad at your dinner to fix a web site problem, that would have made the date go better?

        Really, stop the nonsense. Some of these examples are just wishful thinking. I can’t even read my email on my tablet in the daylight. I can barely dial my phone in the daylight. That speaks to bad design and inappropriate expectations of technology.

        I barely use the web on my phone because 4g is so damn slow. My time is too important to waste it trying to administer a web site on a tablet or phone.

        If I am within range of wifi, I’ll use a netbook or chromebook, as they are cheap, ultra-portable, and more effective than a tablet.

        But with Joomla, a content management system, we shouldn’t be designing it to work in situations that are ridiculous. And that goes to your earlier point, Nicholas. Joomla can’t be all things to all people. Certainly we shouldn’t have the administrative back end pandering to edge cases.

        1. It was actually the iPhone that saved my date a few months ago. I was early and I got an email telling me that downloads of the latest release (I had released it an hour ago before leaving home) were just impossible. True, they were. Using my iPhone and J! 3’s responsive back-end I fixed that 2 minutes before my date showed up. Otherwise I’d have to just call her to bail on her –not a great impression on a second date, right?– and drive 40′ back to my home. So yeah, you may not believe me but the responsive back-end DID save my ass. Not to mention the countless times I replied to support tickets from my iPad while at the beach. Pro tip: just go under the shade of a darned tree to see the screen. Don’t be the idiot trying to read the screen of his device in the sun. Using polarized sunglasses also helps – as long as you don’t mind colors showing a bit like an acid trip when you tilt your head. Please take this advice from the guy who lives a 15′ drive from the beach and is there pretty much every other morning 11am to 2pm from mid June to mid September. You were saying?

          As for 4G being so slow, you have to be ducking kidding me, right? Welcome to Greece. My “fast” ADSL in the office is 13Mbps download / 1Mbps upload. My home ADSL is 3.8Mbps down / 0.7MBps up. 3G in this area (we have no 4G where I live) is 11Mbps down / 5Mbps up. If I want to upload something fast I have to switch to 3G. When I’m visiting my mom’s place where the ADSL barely syncs at 3Mbps and delivers far less I do switch to 4G which gives me a good 30+ Mbps download even on a bad day.

          Do you realize that I’m doing what I’m doing with Internet speeds that you consider to be pretty much a stalled connection? When I started developing JoomlaPack in ’06 all we had was dial-up 44.8Kbps. And the connection reset every time someone picked up the phone or bumped on the coffee table where one of the two sets was placed on. I was duct taping the receivers before connecting to the Internet… Until 2009 my Internet connection was 768Kbps down / 384Kbps up. That was “fast”. Around 2009 I got an upgrade to 2Mbps/512Kbps. Yippee! That’s what I used to start my business BTW, this dead bloody slow connection. Late 2010 I got an upgrade to a whooping 4Mbps/768Kbps and in 2011 it maxed out at 5Mbps/768Kbps. When I moved in 2012 I finally got a sync speed over 10Mbps for the first time in my life. VDSL is still in beta in this country and with nobody having any money to invest I guess it will remain forever. So I’m stuck with 13Mbps – unless it rains and my connection drops 2Mbps because the damned junction boxes on the phone poles were water proof 20 years ago when first installed, now not so much. And you have the nerve to tell me that 4G is SLOW? Meh…

        2. Not going to lie – but I have used and managed sites on my iphone with no problem. And yes I can use my phone just fine in the sun. But this isn’t the point – we are not the target audience (yes we manage joomla and all) but in actuality our clients are the target audience. What tools are they using? Are they on the go a lot? Do they want ease of use? Obviously if mobile isn’t something that you think about – then you haven’t been paying attention for the past 5+ years.

          Mobile is more important than you think it is. And you justifying differently is just a shocking statement.

    2. Of course, you (and me neither) don’t use a tablet to build a Joomla! website. But think about your client, the site owner : he wants to add or adjust content wherever he wants, during a meeting, in the train (lot of people work on train travel), at a conference… and more likely in this cases with a tablet than with a laptop. And more of this, he, your client, never add custom html. He asks you for that 😉

    3. Tablets have long stopped being content consumption devices.

      Before the advent of the iPad I had to carry around a laptop with me wherever I went. Having an on-line business means that you may get an emergency (people can’t pay, download broken, urgent support request, …) anytime. A laptop and a 3G WiFi dongle + backup batteries were always in my bag which I always carried with me.

      With the iPad I no longer had to do that. Back in Joomla! 1.x and 2.5 it was really damn hard to work in the backend. Everything I had to do required pinching, swiping and trying to remember where the hell I was on the page. With Joomla! 3 my experience is so much smoother. But not having to carry a laptop while knowing I’m not going to painfully regret it* has been liberating.

      • Back in 2010 crap hit the fan while I was having dinner with my girlfriend and I had no laptop with me. We had to break dinner short and rush to my home where I could fix the site. She was definitely NOT impressed. Nor was she impressed with her geek boyfriend carrying a laptop bag everywhere from that point onwards.
      1. minor interaction does not make tablets efficient content production devices. I am using a tablet now. It is painfully slow and error prone. I’ve had to make two (now four) error corrections already.
        I’m not convinced that Joomla needs to be responsive on the back end, and am certain that it has adversely affected efficiency.
        But hey, a bad is a gas ( fad is a fad) so everyone has to do it, dam the consequences. Welcome to the flat age s.

        1. Just because you suck at using something you own doesn’t mean that everyone else owning it sucks at using it just the same.

          Also, I firmly believe that Joomla! 3’s back-end has made things simpler.

          Joomla! 2.5: 9 fields at the top left of the page, a TINY editor area that’s hidden below the fold(!!!), 5 very long sliders at the right hand page, scroll all the way to the bottom to find the scary-looking “Article permissions”. This page screams “BORDER CONTROL. HAVE YOUR PAPERS READY. VIOLATORS WILL BE EXECUTED.” It certainly doesn’t invite me to write content in the 10-line-high, narrow editor area.

          Joomla! 3: Two fields at the top, title and alias. A HUGE content area right on my face, inviting me to write profuse amounts of content. Basic controls on my right. Oh, and the sliders have now become much easier to access tabs above the editor area. Even better, the super ultra long slider content is now presented in two columns, requiring me to scroll less.

  20. We and Joomla are competing against many specialized cloud solutions today where our target groups have different publishing options that are smart, quick, easy to use and set up.

    Question for small business companies for Joomla to answer: why should I bother to set up Joomla as a publishing web system when I can create my own web site in 5 minutes for free 30 days and then pay 29 USD per quarter?

    One example: http://www.n.nu/ etc

    50.000 Joomla customers disappeared..? and analysis…

    1. If you RTFA you’ll see that right from the start I’m telling you that Joomla! DOES NOT appeal to that target audience. If someone wants dead simple content posting on the web and doesn’t mind not owning their own data or not having any flexibility whatsoever they WILL go to hosted services or social media. You just can’t beat them in ease of use or price. Surely, Joomla! could create a hosted site service with a pre-installed copy of Joomla! already set up. Oh, wait, that’s demo.joomla.org is but Joomla! is NOT dead simple. If you want to make it dead simple you’ll lose your current users AND try to compete in an already crowded market segment. If you want to do that you’re welcome to fork off or move to WordPress (which is doing exactly what you imply Joomla! should do…).

      And please do read the article and the message at the end. Medium to high complexity site. Not a 4 page brochure site. There’s no compelling reason to use Joomla! for a brochure site instead of a hosted service. If nothing else, just the hosting of the site is more expensive than the hosted service, let alone the time you need to learn how to do basic administration.

      You know what you’re asking me? “CAT should answer to people why would someone buy their excavators to move around in the city twice a month instead of a renting a Smart car.” I’m pretty sure CAT won’t be making any city-friendly excavators which can’t dig a hole and have the efficiency of a Smart car. Because they’re building excavators, not city vehicles.

  21. A very clear, thoughtful and well written piece of mind which is a joy to read. Thanx for sharing your vision.

  22. Just because you suck at using something you own doesn’t mean that everyone else owning it sucks at using it just the same.
    I don’t suck at it. It’s just not the right tool for the job.
    Also, I firmly believe that Joomla! 3’s back-end has made things simpler.


    Joomla! 2.5: 9 fields at the top left of the page, a TINY editor area that’s hidden below the fold(!!!), 5 very long sliders at the right hand page, scroll all the way to the bottom to find the scary-looking “Article permissions”. …

    All in one place. Nothing to miss. No clicking to find things. Perfect (for a laptop or desktop – but not for a tablet)

    A HUGE content area right on my face, inviting me to write profuse amounts of content. Basic controls on my right. Oh, and the sliders have now become much easier to access tabs above the editor area. Even better, the super ultra long slider content is now presented in two columns, requiring me to scroll less.

    Cleaned it up by hiding things. Important things. Important controls are now harder to find – especially for the newcomer. If you know where to look, great. If you don’t, then time to check the documentation which is notoriously poor for Joomla.

    It’s great that Joomla has an option for tablet use. But most productive work isn’t most efficient on a tablet. Most people doing web work aren’t on a beach in Greece.

    @Steve Pignataro
    Mobile is more important than you think it is. And you justifying differently is just a shocking statement.

    Please don’t make my point something that it is not. I think it is great the Joomla was the first to embrace responsive design. I don’t think that the back end should be optimized for mobile at the expense of traditional access. It’s just not efficient. It violates Fitz’ law when working on a laptop or desktop.

    That we tried to address user experience in Joomla is great. But we may have been following the Pied Piper with the responsive back end changes.

    New and shiny is not always better. Look at Windows 8. A horrible experience that spills over and prevades design esthetics everywhere.

    1. Maybe an iPad is not the right tool for YOUR job. It is certainly a great tool for MANY jobs, excluding yours. Unless you believe that me and Steve are either liars or idiots?

      All in one place. Nothing to miss. No clicking to find things. Perfect (for a laptop or desktop – but not for a tablet)

      Seriously, now. All in ONE place? You had to chase every option in the sidebar sliders! All Joomla! 3 did was replace the sliders (which change location every time you click on one of them) with tabs (which stay put). On top of that, Joomla! 2.5 had a miniscule editor area. Have you tried editing a 1200 word article or a price comparison table on it without becoming homicidal? I seriously doubt it. Probably you’re using JCE’s full screen mode but this is not what the majority of Joomla! users, especially those coming to it for the FIRST time get to experience.

      Cleaned it up by hiding things.

      Sliders were replaced by tabs. The options which were above the content editor are now to its right. I did check. Before answering you this morning I installed two stock Joomla! 2.5 and 3.4 sites and compared everything side by side. The rebuttal to your statement of Joomla! hiding things is not subjective, it’s objective. Everyone who has eyes can see that for themselves.

      You need to get your brain unstuck. I get it, you don’t like change. I will make a guess that you’re over 40, white, male and past work experience includes middle management. I’m not a mentalist, that’s the profile of the average person with extremely high resistance to change according to what we had found in the business consultancy firm I was working before becoming a full time web developer.

      It’s great that Joomla has an option for tablet use. But most productive work isn’t most efficient on a tablet. Most people doing web work aren’t on a beach in Greece.

      I replied to your comment that Joomla! on a tablet in the beach is unusable. I did NOT say that Joomla! is mostly used on a beach in Greece. I really DO get it. Your brain is stuck and you’re trying to put words in my mouth. Not appreciated at all.

      1. no, you don’t get my point.
        and I don’t care for the tone or content of your replies either.
        I’m done here.

        1. You keep on telling me that Joomla! has hidden a bunch of options you want to work with. OK. Which ones? Can you please tell me that? I am doing a side by side comparison and I don’t see anything hidden that wasn’t hidden before.

          Granted, when you are setting things like metadata you no longer have the (tiny) content area on the right hand side. I don’t see how this may hinder your work, but you’re not willing to explain it either. Anything I am saying your standard reply is “I don’t like mobile”. Man, all right, I get it you don’t like mobile. Besides that, can you please give me the PRACTICAL issue inflicted upon you by Joomla! 3’s back-end?

          Let me further explain my reasoning. I’ve heard a lot of (mostly 40+) people complain about Joomla! 3’s back-end being mobile-friendly. Every time I ask any one of them exactly WHAT is the problem the tell me that the sliders are gone. OK, I say, the went from side sliders to the top as tabs. “But it’s mobile-friendly!” they reply. OK, I say, but how does that have to do with anything? And then they stop replying. Exactly like you. I’m growing tired of this…

          If you believe that there is a practical issue I’d love to listen to you and try to fix it. Just stop trying to convince me that using a tablet for content creation is impossible because I can tell you from personal experience that it is perfectly possible.

          So, for one last time: what is the PRACTICAL problem you have? Which options do you believe were hidden with Joomla! 3? Where were these options in Joomla! 2.5? Please do not list options which were hidden in the side sliders and are now hidden in the top tabs because it’s quickly becoming a case of I say potAHto, you say potHEYto.

  23. Joomla would be a great platform for targeting publicly traded firms. One improvement that is a must is the category list. It is great for displaying company news for public companies, sorts it by date, allows you to filter by title if you have lots of news, etc.

    Although the columns for the category list are predefined which is good but we need the ability to have columns that we can choose ourselves. For example, right now you can enable hits, author, etc which is great. Although what if I want to display a column that gives the user the ability to access a pdf version or say we have an audio of the press release so we want to put an audio icon and link that, etc.

    This capability is not there at the present making options very limited to the user and client. The WYSIWYG editor can achieve this (JCE) by allowing an insert and link if that option were to be added. Gives the developer more flexibility for meeting client needs AND best of adds better user experience for the visitor.

    Without this the user has to make another click and then find the pdf icon and then click on that and then hit back to go back to the list of release and now click on the next one again etc.

    1. you might want to look at one of the ccks such as seblod or fabrik food that kind of structured content type.

      Seblod recently had a great documentation series put together by James morell.

      content construction kits are something that makes Joomla soar above WP as a system

      1. I agree, the CCKs available for Joomla! are as powerful as what you’ll find in Drupal and much easier to work with. I really do not see custom fields as a competitor to CCKs. I see it as a simpler alternative for the people who don’t need the full power –and setup complexity– of a real CCK.

        It also serves another need as I’m about to reply to another comment 🙂

    2. Thank you for giving me the details. I can see what you mean now. What you’re looking for is actually custom fields in articles. I know, you want them to appear in (the list of articles for each of) the categories. Adding “columns to categories” would put these at the top of the page, once, per category. That’s why I’m saying you need custom fields.

      The current solution, as Mark said in his comment, is using a CCK. Depending on what you need you may go for K2, Seblod, Fabrik, Sobi Pro etc. If you only want to link a media item (e.g. a PDF) to each article they will be overkill but that’s what we currently have. One of the proposals I made in the second installment of this series is custom fields for use cases like yours. Something like a “poor man’s CCK” of sorts.

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