How Joomla is powering government

JoomlaWe’ve heard a lot about Drupal and WordPress in government, but not much about the open source platform Joomla. We asked Joomla External Communications Lead Sandra Ordonez to share how government is using it, its key features, how it compares to Drupal and WordPress and what governments are using it.

What is Joomla and why should government be interested?

Joomla is one of the world’s most popular open source CMS and its core product is free. It is used by individuals, small and medium-sized business, and large organizations worldwide, to easily create and build a variety of websites and Web-enabled applications. Approximately 2.7 percent of the Web currently runs on Joomla. Due to its power and elegance, it can be used by the most inexperienced website builder to the most seasoned Web developer. Since its inception in 2005, Joomla has been 100 percent community owned and operated, and its software has been downloaded more than 26 million times.

Joomla powers more than 2,900 government websites and you can find examples of those by going to We find that a majority of these government sites use Joomla because it is the only content management system that combines the ease of use and powerful extensibility necessary to meet the needs of a broad spectrum of users.

How does Joomla compare to other open source software options like Drupal or WordPress?

Whereas Joomla’s main competitors lack either ease of use or extensibility, Joomla takes the best of both worlds in one powerful and simple CMS. It is a product oriented community whereas other CMS’ are services oriented. What this means is that Joomla users expect the core and extensions to be finished products ready to use out of the box, and don’t require custom development to get ready. Many Joomla sites are deployed with little or no custom development work.

Another key differentiator for Joomla is the project’s focus surrounding security, a priority set by the leadership team. Joomla developers are focused on, and excel at, protecting their users. In fact, Joomla has set up the Joomla security center and strike team where security vulnerabilities can be reported on and taken action on instantly. The Joomla Security Strike Team pulls information from the thousands of people in the Joomla community working 24-7 around the world. Those members of the community are constantly probing Joomla and its extensions for the latest vulnerabilities and issues fixes to them as soon as possible. In addition to this specific security site and team, the nearly 500-thousand members in the Joomla forum are constantly informing Joomla members about the latest vulnerabilities as well.

What makes Joomla truly unique is it features the largest community of developers and third party extensions for a CMS (see more details below). The project is entirely community driven and operated with very little hierarchy, no questions asked. Joomla was developed as and continues to be a grassroots software project.

What are the top features governments are using?

It’s hard to pinpoint the top features that governments are using, but here are some of the “killer” Joomla features in our opinion (in no particular order):

  • Easy, one-click updates from version-to-version. The new built-in updater also handles updates for Joomla and Joomla extensions. This is a major enhancement improving upon the previous system of manually updating individual files on the server.
  • Access Control Levels. This gives sites managers control over who can manage and view content.
  • Multilingual capabilities allows site users to implement a multi-language site.
  • A separated framework for building apps (the Joomla platform). This means that a developer can use Joomla to build apps without having to make changes to the core CMS.
  • Huge, active community with over 8000 contributed addons better knows as extensions. You can find these extensions at

How can interested public sector IT professionals learn more?

Go to They can also visit the Joomla! forum and get advice from one of our many volunteers: Also, many tutorials exist on YouTube.

Local governments using Joomla

Learn more about government sites powered by Joomla at at

Luke Fretwell is the founder of the civic innovation and technology blog GovFresh. He advises civic leaders and businesses on how to best leverage digital strategies to create more effective, collaborative governments. He has written about government IT for Federal Computer Week, NextGov, FedScoop, StateScoop and FierceGovernment, and has been referenced by the Washington Post and Fast Company on civic technology issues. He has worked with a number of government-focused companies and media, including CivicActions, NuCivic and FedScoop and has been involved in broad-focused community efforts, such as GovPress, CityCamp, CivicMeet, Agile Government Leadership and Open Source for America. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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