Researcher, Software Developer, Writer


So I wanted a vertical menu on that just lists the pages (of which there are only two).

This is a simple website. I don’t want it to look fancy, I just want it to showcase the other websites we’ve done.

Well ok, I do want it to look fancy but I can’t spare the time so looking error-free will have to do.

I designed a simple vertical menu as part of my Artisteer theme. Installed it. The vertical menu remained unstyled.

The following message appeared on the WordPress admin menu screen: “The current theme does not natively support menus, but you can use the “Custom Menu” widget to add any menus you create here to the theme’s sidebar.”

Ok, well I thought it did natively support menus, but whatever. I spent a bit of time fooling about with the Custom Menu widget. Eventually found this Artisteer help page. (Read the “Creating Vertical Menu” bit.)

To summarise: For a simple vertical menu like mine you need to choose ‘Pages’ as the Vertical Menu Source in the Export Options. You also – and this is the bit I missed – need to use a ‘Vertical Menu’ WordPress widget in the Widgets screen. Ignore the ‘Custom Menu’ suggestion made by WordPress.

Oh, I’m using WordPress 3.4.2 and Artisteer 3.1. I’m looking forward to upgrading to Artisteer 4 but with a client demo today, I don’t want to risk breaking anything.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a priority for every website. I am now looking at SEO options in Joomla! One of the most obvious is in the Global Configuration Site tab:

SEO Settings – Search Engine Friendly URLs – choose between ‘no’ and ‘yes’.

A no-brainer, right?

Wrong. I turned it on for and most of the pages in the site immediately lost their CSS formatting. I didn’t have time to investigate, so I promptly turned it off again.

I have now had a look. There is a simple solution: Enable the second option: ‘Use Apache mod_rewrite’, and rename htaccess.txt in your Joomla! home directory to .htaccess.

A no-brainer, right?

Wrong. When I renamed htaccess.txt all of my pages (including my admin page) went down (and I mean DOWN) with the following message:

“The server encountered an internal error and was unable to complete your request. Either the server is overloaded or there was an error in a CGI script.”

This turns out to be easy to fix. I opened up htaccess.txt and it starts with a piece of advice about commenting out an instruction if .htaccess breaks stuff. I commented out the instruction. All is now well.

In C++ you need to understand all of the low-level implications of every command you use. Web development is computer programming from the opposite direction. Speed is the priority. Implementation details should be invisible if you just want to get a brochureware site up and running in a CMS.


I love Artisteer.  Really I do.  But I just spent half an hour trying to figure out why my horizontal Artisteer menu didn’t style properly in Joomla 1.5.

I previewed the template and decided that extra1 would be the best position.  I assigned this position to the menu module (why is this all so complicated?).  I checked, rechecked and checked again that the _menu suffix was assigned in the gobbledegooky-stupid-thing.  Sorry, I mean in Module-Advanced Parameters-Module Class Suffix.

Nope.  The menu was appearing but it remained resolutely unstyled.

In desperation, was forced to RTFM and see what Artisteer recommends about creating horizontal menus.  “Assign the user3 position”.  Well that’s not going to make much difference, right?

Wrong.  That was the fix.  I hate computers.

So my WordPress love affair lasted about an hour.
Then I spent a good while trying to figure out why comments were disabled on all my shiny new WordPress posts.
There’s a global setting for enabling comments which was turned on, but I probably turned that on after noticing the problem – I forget what I did in the first few minutes. Still, none of my five blog posts permitted comments.
I tried changing to the standard WordPress themes in case my Artisteer theme was the cause.  The first one was the same – just had no comments section in the post.  The next displayed ‘Comments are closed’ or something similar.

I couldn’t find where to authorise comments for individual posts.  Eventually I found it: edit the post and click on ‘Screen Options’.  Then tick the ‘Discussion’ and ‘Comments’ boxes.

When you scroll down past the post, the settings for permitting or disabling comments will magically appear.

Now I call this counter-intuitive.  While the ‘Screen Options’ button may be handy for experienced users who like uncluttered screens, I think everything should be turned on here at install time.  At least turn on things as fundamental as comments.

It occurs to me that perhaps everything is usually turned on but I turned some of it off while looking for something else.  As this is quite likely to happen to a newbie, steps should be taken to advise the user what is happening.

With other tools I don’t mind a learning curve so much – you expect it.  But you are encouraged to think that there is no learning curve with WordPress, then they do this kind of thing.  The ‘kitchen sink’ setting, turned off by default when editing posts, is a similar time-waster.



No-one else does this!  Stop!

Newsflash: now that I have some idea what I’m doing, it took about ten minutes to install WordPress and copy three static pages over from Joomla!  It turns out that you don’t have to explicitly create the menu at all.  By default it’s generated from the static pages you’ve written.  How cool.  A feature I’ve long wanted in Joomla!

I’m about to paste in my first post, written yesterday.

I could keep running speed tests all day, but I am actually supposed to be implementing a blog here.

The test results were not conclusive.  Even if there had been huge differences, both CMSs have plugins that can be used to improve load times.  A comprehensive test would have to implement some of these.  Arguing about which ones to deploy and the validity of various tests could effectively prevent a conclusion being reached before the end of time.

Bottom line: I’m happy now that WordPress won’t make my site crawl.  Blogging will be the main activity of the site in the future so I’m going to convert to WordPress immediately.  I already know it’ll take less than an hour.

DISCLAIMER: These tests were undertaken in a spirit of slapdash curiosity and are not scientific.  Speed test websites were chosen by grabbing whatever looked interesting from a Google search.  If this subject is of vital importance to you, run your own tests.

For background please read the two previous posts.

Joomla! Version: 1.5.24

WordPress Version: 3.3.1

Before beginning, I logged out of WordPress admin on the Wp site as it seems to affect what’s loaded with the page. I also logged out of Joomla! admin and cleared the Chrome cache.

First test:

The results page provides a load of data but I am only going to look at one figure – the T1 download time. Here goes.

WordPress site

T1 1.44Mbps – 9.11 seconds

Joomla site
T1 1.44mBPS – 12.15 seconds.


Interesting. I’m going for lunch. Then I’ll run a few more tests from Chrome, and some from FF (though that shouldn’t make any difference). via Chrome:
Joomla! – load time – 1.34 seconds – avg s/KB: 0.25
WordPress – load time – 0.71 seconds – avg s/KB: 0.11

This again suggests that WordPress is faster – almost twice as fast. I ran the test here another nine times. On only one occasion was Joomla! faster than WordPress.

Running from Firefox (fyi, yeah I know it should make no difference).
I love this site.  Never been here before.  It allows you to choose your test location.  I chose Dublin.  And choose your browser- I went with IE8.


  • First View – 5.202s
  • Repeat View – 1.916s


  • First View – 5.525s
  • Repeat View – 2.403s

Interesting!  Big change from previous results.  WordPress is slower by both measures.  Why?  Could it be the choice of IE8 as browser?  I ran it again, choosing Chrome:

  • First View – 4.573s
  • Repeat View – 1.588s


  • First View – 4.177s
  • Repeat View – 1.627s

And again, choosing Firefox:

  • First View – 5.761s
  • Repeat View – 1.454s


  • First View – 5.727s
  • Repeat View – 2.407s

I think the reason Joomla! does better in these tests is because they measure time until the page is initially displayed, rather than total load time.  But that is a pure guess.

Final site: Google PageSpeed Insights
Marks out of 100: 53
It makes several suggestions – the high priority ones are to enable compression and leverage browser caching.

Marks out of 100: 61
It suggests I enable compression and leverage browser caching, but this time  caching is given only medium priority.

Well, that was fun.

Creating a WordPress version of the site was easy. I’ve now been working on it for seven and a half minutes, in which time I’ve installed WordPress and made copies of each of my three pages.

Both Joomla! and WordPress allow you to toggle between WYSIWYG and HTML editors, so it was simple to copy the Joomla! HTML version of each page to the WordPress HTML editor.

I still need to generate the WordPress theme from Artisteer and install it in WordPress, and also to create the three-item menu. Interesting to see how long that’ll take.

The menu took about three minutes – I’ve never created a WordPress menu before but it’s very easy.

It took less than a minute to convert the Joomla! template to a WordPress theme in Artisteer. Just File-Change Template and then File-Export.

Another two minutes to upload and activate the new WordPress theme.

Now I have done all the work I expected to have to do, but the site still doesn’t look the same in WordPress. Differences are:
– The site name and slogan are WordPress – Just another WordPress site.  They need to be customised.
– There’s a default home page that I don’t want and will have to remove
– There’s a blogging column on the left with ‘Recent posts’, ‘archives’ etc that I need to remove

I dragged everything out of the ‘Primary Widget Area’ but the left column is still there.

I fixed this by going back to Artisteer, changing the theme to a single-column layout and re-exporting it. Then installing the updated version in WordPress. Time: seven minutes.
Joomla! ignored the left-hand column because I hadn’t put anything in it. Not so WordPress.

Changing the site name and slogan was easy to find in the general settings.

I can’t see where the fourth, ‘Home’ menu item is coming from in the WordPress site. I only have three in the menu in the Admin page and one of them is called Home so I have two ‘Home’s. I tried loading the page in Firefox (I’d been using Chrome) but FF sees four menu items too so it’s not a cache issue.

Fixed. In desperation I went into Appearance-Themes and in my current theme selected ‘menus’. I got a ‘theme locations’ box saying “Your theme supports 1 menu. Select which menu you would like to use.” Nothing was selected so I selected ‘Main’ (the only option) and when I refreshed the site the annoying extra menu option had gone away.

Total time for WordPress install and getting it to look like the Joomla! site: 36 minutes. I find WordPress fairly intuitive compared to Joomla! but of course learning a second CMS was bound to be easier.

Grr – I spoke too soon!  Unexpectedly, there’s an option to reply on the wp home page below the main text.  Eh??  Also if you type in the URL directly the annoying default home page comes up, although I thought I’d deleted it.

Went into Appearance/Themes/Current Theme/Theme Options and turned lots of stuff off, which removed the option to reply.

Deleted a post called ‘Hello World’, but the default URL now gives a ‘not found’ message. Sigh.

Think I’ve found it! In Settings-Reading there’s a ‘Front page displays’ setting. Funny place to put it I would have thought – I only looked there in desperation.

Total time taken is up to 54 minutes.  Still under an hour so I am fairly happy with WordPress.

Now to run the speed tests!

22:13 02/07/2012
Last week I decided to start a techie blog on  It’s a Joomla! website.  I researched blogging on Joomla!  The most versatile solution seems to be a plugin that basically ports WordPress into Joomla!

I was actually seriously considering using it.  Then today I read an article that mentions that plugins that leverage another program can have a major impact on load time.  Makes sense.

I haven’t put many resources into the Joomla! version of the site yet.  I spent an hour or two converting it from twentieth-century HTML+CSS a few weeks ago. So the question is, should I change to WordPress before I do any serious work?

Most of us have had this experience: you decide to do something a different way that you have just concluded is better. You do it – time and effort result – then you discover that your original approach was best after all.

Wary of this possibility, I thought some more about what I want from the site. Essentially it’s simple brochureware – an online CV with a LinkedIn button.

I’m putting a technical blog on it because I occasionally wrestle with a knotty problem for which I can’t find an answer via Google.  I want people who have the same issue to solve it in five minutes after they find my post.  This is my thankyou to all the strangers who have solved so many problems for me in five minutes.

So what would be a showstopper? What would send me scuttling back from WordPress to Joomla?

WordPress is the world’s premier blogging software so it’s bound to have the simple features I want.  I’ve spent an hour or two using it before so I know the interface is simple.  In the end, all I can come up with is load speed.  If WordPress is significantly slower than Joomla! I will go running back to Joomla!

So today I went looking for an article comparing Joomla! performance to WordPress. I can’t find anything. There are a few one-off remarks on one forum or another. The poster immediately gets flamed.

Many variables affect load speed, but it occurs to me that a simple site like mine – three static pages, the most exciting feature being a LinkedIn button – could offer an interesting comparison.  I created the Joomla! template in Artisteer so can easily re-export it as a WordPress theme.  I can copy and paste the text in minutes.

I can put the WordPress version on a second URL with the same hosting package. This should eliminate server-side speed differences, especially if I run the tests multiple times.

I plan to create the WordPress site tomorrow and then run both sites through a couple of different speed-testing tools. Note that I will test only completely unoptimised sites.  Even gzip will not be turned on.  The results should tell me which is quicker – Joomla! or WordPress – but, of course, only out-of-the-box.

When I have decided which lucky technology gets to host my blog, this will be my first blog post.


Picture of Ita Ryan

Ita Ryan

Shopping Cart

Your shopping cart is empty
Visit the shop