But what really sets Joomla apart from other content management systems is its robust suite of core features, which includes a host of different management options. Joomla makes it possible for users to easily manage everything from content and contacts to media, web links, and so much more.
Like all software, Joomla is regularly updated to ensure the latest security measures and CMS features are employed. Thus, ensuring that your website is utilizing the latest version is important for not only keeping things running smoothly but also for keeping your data safe and secure.
With Joomla 3 being replaced by Joomla 4, we thought it would be appropriate to provide an overview of what clients can expect when upgrading to the latest version. In this post, we’ll discuss the biggest changes and improvements in Joomla 4, why it’s necessary to upgrade, how to prepare for your upgrade, migration considerations, and much more.
The Evolution of Joomla: From 3 to 4
Joomla 3 was released in 2016, and although it was updated regularly, it has been a while since the platform has undergone a major upgrade. But that’s changing as with the latest release of Joomla 4, users can expect many new features, fixes, and security improvements in the CMS platform that they’ve come to love.
Joomla 4 has been redesigned to make creating and managing content easier and faster than ever. More specifically, it performs better because it has been optimized for speed and performance, so caching and loading times are faster. Scalability has also been improved, which allows it to handle more traffic, an essential benefit, especially for larger websites. It also delivers improved database performance, thus allowing it to handle large amounts of data with greater ease.
Additional enhancements included in Joomla 4 include:
- Improved codebase that makes it easier to add new features to your CMS
- Improved user interface that’s more modern and delivers improved mobile responsiveness
- Improved media manager featuring drag-and-drop simplicity
- Improved SEO features
Reasons to Upgrade: Why It’s Necessary
Whenever a new version of any piece of software is released, the number one reason for upgrading is the same – upgrading protects you and your data because the latest version utilizes the latest security measures currently available. In most cases, the security upgrades resolve weaknesses that were discovered in the previous version, and they are designed to protect against more modern threats.
Upgrading also ensures that the version you’re using will be supported for some length of time. For instance, official support for Joomla 3 ended on August 17, 2023. As a result, failing to upgrade can leave you more exposed to certain risks.
Upgrading to the latest version of Joomla 4 also provides you with a better user experience thanks to its new, updated interface and easy backend management. And because Joomla 4 is compatible with modern PHP versions and related technologies, your website will be future-proofed for the foreseeable future.
Preparing for the Upgrade
Before upgrading from Joomla 3 to Joomla 4, there are a few steps you should take to prepare, so the process can go as smoothly as possible. These steps include:
- Backup your Joomla 3 website: This step is important because backing up your website safeguards your data should something unexpected occur
- Check your server to make sure it meets the requirements for Joomla 4, including PHP (needs at least PHP 7.2), database, and other software
- Make sure you have the latest Joomla 3.x version (if not update it to 3.10.11)
- Run the Joomla 4 Pre-Update Check in Joomla 3 to make sure all installed extensions and templates are compatible with Jooma 4
When migrating to Joomla 4, there are certain considerations that should be kept in mind. For starters, you should assess your website’s complexity and functionality, as well as its original goals. If you discover that your site has deviated from your initial vision, look at the migration as a means of getting back into focus with your goals, or as a means of bringing it more up to date with your current goals if they’ve changed.
It is also important to note that some users may experience possible challenges in migrating custom code and functionalities. This is because some older extensions may not be compatible with Joomla 4. This is why it is always recommended to run the Pre-Update check in Joomla 3 prior to migrating. Leaving incompatible extensions in place could interfere with the Joomla upgrade and result in a failed upgrade that leaves the site inaccessible. You should upgrade all extensions to meet J4 compatibility or disable or uninstall these plugins before upgrading.
As with any major platform upgrade, you should test Joomla 4 on a staging environment instead of on the live site. Only once you thoroughly review it to ensure that everything is working smoothly and as expected should you copy it over to the live site.
The Upgrade Process
Once any incompatible extensions have been disabled, the upgrade process is fairly straightforward. For the most in-depth step-by-step instruction, you should check out Joomla’s official migration documentation and use their recommended backup and migration tools.
In some cases, certain issues may arise during the upgrade, the two most common being:
- Technical Specifications not met
- Third-party extension incompatibility
Each of these issues is easily remedied by following the advice previously mentioned in this article. Two other common issues involve isClient and isAdmin errors. These errors indicate that you have third-party extensions using isClient or isAdmin, so they should be uninstalled or disabled/unpublished.
Redesigning vs. Migration: Joomla vs. WordPress
If your site is currently using Joomla 3 and you are looking to upgrade your CMS to a newer platform, then you may be trying to decide between migrating to Joomla 4 versus doing a complete website redesign using WordPress. One thing you can do to help you come to your decision is to evaluate whether your current Joomla website meets your needs.
If you like the ease with which Joomla 3 operates, then upgrading to Joomla 4 will only provide an even better experience. But if you are wanting to try something completely different and your website doesn’t need some of the advance functions available in Joomla, then rebuilding your site in WordPress may be something to consider.
Both Joomla 4 and WordPress come with their own set of pros and cons which should be carefully considered before making your decision.
- Has more advanced user management controls out of the box
- Is more flexible for different types of content, including non-standard content types
- Has multilingual support built-in to the core, while WordPress requires you to use a third-party plugin
- Provides users with multiple templates for different pieces of content instead of one theme
- Has fewer professional extensions than WordPress
- Doesn’t offer as many customization options as some other CMSs
- Can experience compatibility issues with extensions due to the core platform undergoing frequent updates
- Has a somewhat complex update/upgrade path
- Is easier to maintain than Joomla
- Has the largest ecosystem of WordPress exclusive plugins and themes
- Has a huge support community consisting of blogs, Facebook groups, and developers
- Is so widely used that hackers and other cyber-criminals target WordPress sites most frequently
- Can be challenging to use with certain plugins
- Tends to be slower loading, which can have a negative effect on search engine rankings
- Is too dependent on third party plugins, which can hamper site performance and increase security risks
Rebuilding in WordPress: Is It Necessary?
To determine if rebuilding your website by switching from Joomla to WordPress is necessary, you should first begin by assessing your website’s structure, content, and features. What is the purpose of your website? What are your goals for your site? What type of content and features do you want to share with your audience?
While most advanced websites might be better suited for Joomla’s robust content and media management features, WordPress remains one of the best platforms for blogs.
The downside, however, is that making the migration from Joomla to WordPress doesn’t come without its own set of challenges. A lot of complications can arise during the migration process, which can lead to data loss or website downtime. As a result, the migration process should only be attempted by experienced web developers.
Retaining Joomla: Benefits and Future Prospects
Many users who are already running Joomla 3 may be best served by simply upgrading to Joomla 4. You’ll be working with a more modern version of a platform you’re already comfortable using. You’ll also enjoy the continued support of Joomla’s vast community of users and developers and receive all updates as they’re released to ensure you’re always using the latest, greatest software.
Utilizing Joomla’s unique features and functionalities allows you to create a website that is truly original, easy to manage, and powerful enough to meet all its daily demands.
Once you have successfully migrated from Joomla 3 to Joomla 4 and conducted a thorough testing of your site, there are a few other post-update activities that you should complete. These include:
- Clear the cache: Open Updates and click on Clear Cache.
- Check the database schema and fix any errors if any appear: Go to the Database Fix page and click on Extensions > Manage > Database, and then click the Fix button
- Check the website’s frontend and backend
- Go to System -> Global Configuration -> Server -> Error Reporting, to “Maximum” option into System Default. Click the “Save” button
- Move your Joomla site from Localhost to the live server – assign the staging site folder to the site domain
- Participate in user training to become familiar with Joomla 4’s exciting new features
In conclusion, we hope this guide has settled some of the concerns or worries you might have had when you learned that support for Joomla 3 was ending. While Joomla 3 might be heading into the sunset, Joomla 4 is here to reignite your love for your website.
With Joomla 4, you will enjoy greater performance, speed, and ease-of-use. Your website will be more secure, modern, and significantly more efficient because its CMS will be supported for years to come. Plus, you’ll continue to be a part of Joomla’s rich ecosystem and its ever expanding community of users.