It can be hard to know where to start when choosing a new CMS for your organisation.
With a plethora of CMS’ available, with so many similarities and differences, plus varying suitability and integration with other technologies, choosing a CMS usually requires stacking a number of products against each other to see how they compare when it comes to your specific requirements.
As two common and highly popular CMS options, WordPress and Umbraco are often pitted against each other in the decision-making process. In this article we aim to explain in a clear and concise manner the similarities and differences of these two CMS gladiators, and help you decide which is best suited to your needs.
History of WordPress and Umbraco
WordPress started life back in May 2003 as a necessary invention of web developer Matthew Mullenweg. Mullenweg was a regular user of blogging software b2/cafelog, which was about to be discontinued. He and his associate Mike Little built a new platform based on b2/cafelog, and WordPress came into existence.
Starting life as a blogging platform it quickly grew and adapted as an open-source community project and has been used to create over 30% of all sites currently in existence. As various new iterations appeared, WordPress morphed into the CMS we know today. Due to its suitability for businesses both small, medium and large, it is the most common CMS platform used in the world.
Umbraco has a similar yet different background. First released in 2003 by Neils Hartvig as a dedicated CMS, and later as an open source CMS in 2005.
While both platforms are open source with a huge community of developers and members working worldwide to help create the best product they can, Umbraco was designed as a CMS from day one. This means it offers a different and more flexible set of options to help customise websites and create a unique online experience. Umbraco sites tend to start from a blank canvas in terms of their design and therefore, are less likely to be out of the box, formulaic designs.
What are the Main Differences Between Umbraco & WordPress?
From a usability perspective, the key difference between Umbraco and WordPress is largely geared around the audience they appeal to. WordPress is the domain of small to medium businesses, content based websites such as blogs, direct marketing and sales where add-ons can easily be attached and the website created and managed in house.
Umbraco is trusted by some of the biggest organisations out there, including the Council of the European Union, Next Base, National Grid, Sport England, Scholl, Domino’s Pizza, Carlsberg Group, Westminster Abbey, National Geographic Photo Contest, Marie Curie and many more. Its unrivalled flexibility and high level of security make Umbraco a strong contender for websites looking to be able to flex and expand over time.
WordPress is a great platform with a good degree of flexibility, and a huge range of templates and plug ins available to help customise the look and functionality of your website. From time to time a WordPress site may require a specialist developer to create something more complex, but largely it is designed to be worked on in house. A well-built WordPress site can be an effective tool for businesses, however there are many sites that are built using this platform that are complicated to use and inflexible in their design. This means that as you scale, WordPress may not always be the best solution.
Umbraco sites tend to start from a blank slate in terms of their design and are less likely to be formulaic and inflexible. Furthermore, a well-built Umbraco site can be extremely easy to manage, and to integrate with other tools in your MarTech stack.
Umbraco offers full customisation options as opposed to themes but does offer an extensive range of plugins and tools to add features and functions. Umbraco is likely to require a greater degree of developer assistance due to its customisable nature and the design and build freedom this affords.
While WordPress is the most popular CMS in as far as the number of websites it powers, that does not mean it is the best choice for every organisation. While WordPress is capable of powering large scale websites, it’s performance hinges on a number of factors including themes, plugins and other customisations used to build the site. With improper set ups, spikes in traffic may cause the site to crash, or the website may slow down drastically due to heavy plugin coding.
Umbraco wins out when it comes to scalability. Whether you plan to start small or launch a large-scale website, Umbraco maintains performance and experience using advanced caching and remaining reliable when handling vast amounts of content.
WordPress is built in PHP, a server-side scripting language allowing it to be used in any hosting environment. Umbraco is built in .NET, a web application framework with Microsoft behind it, making it highly flexible and secure. Both are popular choices and offer a great framework to start from, depending on what you are building.
What are the Similarities Between the Platforms?
CMS Entry Price
Both WordPress and Umbraco have versions which are completely free to use.
WordPress is the simpler to use, which may lead to the assumption that it will be cheaper in the long term. However, the additional cost of themes, plugins, security, hosting and developer assistance for back-end work can easily spiral if a highly customised site or specific functionalities are required.
WordPress and Umbraco both receive similar scores on the G2 review site for general use, design, features, and platform, with WordPress edging ahead in all areas.
Both WordPress and Umbraco are open source projects, meaning the original source code is available for free, and may be modified and distributed by anyone. Open-source projects have large, collaborative communities built around them, exchanging ideas and creations, improving security by user testing, and helping support each other in their software development.
WordPress have a vast community of collaborators which has expanded to include diversity programs, mentorships, news and events. Umbraco’s open-source community is expansive too, with a forum to answer any questions, work out any bugs, and stay on top of security patches an issues.
The Key Features & Benefits of Using Umbraco
Umbraco offers a wide range of features and benefits to organisations using their software. Here we focus on the key areas ofimportance for most users.
Whatever your requirements, Umbraco is a flexible CMS that can achieve whatever your business needs. If you have something specific in mind, Umbraco can achieve this for you and this flexilibity means that your CMS can adapt to achieve your business and marketing objectives.
Umbraco does not have a page builder per se, in the way WordPress does, however it does allow for simple page creation and templates. Whereas WordPress is designed for the novice user, Umbraco has been designed by developers, with developers in mind, and may require some training and employees with Umbraco experience to build a site using this CMS. The payoff here is the flexibility and customisation possibilities offered by Umbraco which reach beyond the limitations of a standard WordPress site. A good Umbraco development agency may also provide training for editors and ongoing support to help you manage your site.
While Umbraco offers a more complex solution, the speed, security and crawlability of the site is likely to be superior to that of a WordPress site. Providing a clean, secure crawling environment helps boost your technical SEO, and the customisable page and form builders allow total flexibility to build high quality content that ranks well and delivers great value to the user.
Site speed is known to be one of many SEO ranking factors, and just as importantly a factor in user experience.
Umbraco offers a strong platform, without the bloat found in many other CMS providers. With an optional CDN for content, automatic image compressor, and HTML/CSS/JS minifier plus the means to integrate a bundle of other features, Umbraco keeps your code clean, secure, and fast.
One of the most distinguishing factors of using Umbraco is the high level of security. As it is built in .NET it has many of the security features not found in PHP platforms such as WordPress. Practices are in place including regular penetration testing, protocols to block malicious code, and frequent security updates.
Umbraco Apps offer a huge range of easy to use, fast and secure plugins to help you customise your site. From website translation to eCommerce set up, website analytics, workflows, and engines designed to build professional blog sections and newsletters for your site, full customisation is possible without having to design and build new elements from scratch.
Umbraco also integrates well with a vast stack of MarTech tools; many of which can deliver valuable data and insights on how your website is actually performing.
Umbraco offer their own Cloud hosting solution which includes automated upgrades, access to forums and communities and a fast, highly secure hosting environment however hosting can sometimes be available through a web development partner too as an extra service. Carbon Six Digital offer a range of Umbraco hosting solutions that you can learn more about.
Umbraco support can also be used at no initial cost by posting questions in the community forum and through their extensive support documentation. Although Umbraco themselves offer support, some agencies may offer Umbraco support without a cost.
Discover the Other Benefits of Umbraco
Umbraco has a whole host of features that make it a good CMS to choose. We detail why choosing Umbraco could be a good choice for your business.
Alternatively, read our complete guide to the Umbraco CMS which goes into detail about what Umbraco is, the benefits of using it and how to get started with the platform.
The Key Features & Benefits of Using WordPress
WordPress has been designed to be easy to use and a simple website can be built by those with little to no developer experience, or necessarily a particular desire to learn.
WordPress sites are set up well to deal with SEO elements and Google generally approves of them, with a wide range of high-quality SEO optimisation plugins readily available. On the downside of WordPress for SEO, multiple plugins and heavy scripts and tracking codes can slow down a site, and security issues may cause problems if they are not kept up to date at all times.
As mentioned above, WordPress offers a range of plugins to improve SEO, however the use of multiple plugins and DNS issues can cause considerable lag, offering a poor user experience and possibly damaging your ranking ability.
WordPress offers a range of security tools, however WordPress sites are prone to hacks, though this is often through users not updating security patches, using old versions or weak passwords, or through third party plugins. Issues can include brute force attacks, file inclusion exploitation, and malware. Ensuring your password is strong, only safe plugins are used and versions and security patches are updated frequently will reduce the likelihood of your site suffering these issues.
WordPress is renowned for the huge range of plugins and themes available. As it powers more websites than any other platform in the world, integrations have also been made available from a wide range of other organisations including SaaS such as HubSpot, Zapier, and Drift, as well as WordPress specific builds such as Monster Insights, and wpforms.
WordPress do not offer a hosting solution of their own. A wide range of companies offer WordPress hosting solutions, at carrying levels of service and cost. The free and shared hosting options may pose a higher risk than dedicated and managed hosting solutions.
WordPress support is usually gained through the many WP forums available around the world, and resources available from their support section. For more technical support or on-going help you may wish to consider hiring a dedicated WordPress support such as an agency or developer.
A Quick Summary of Umbraco vs WordPress
There is clearly a lot to think about when choosing a CMS, depending on the size, design and functionality of your website. Some key benefits of each CMS are:
|- Quick and easy to build simple sites||- Flexibility and can create highly customised sites|
|- Higher security and site speed vulnerabilities||- Highly secure and fast websites with regular penetration testing|
|- Huge range of third-party plugins||- Less plugin availability than WP, but still a huge range of options|
|- Limited availability to scale||- Limitless availability to scale|
Whatever CMS you choose will depend on a range of factors and there may not be one CMS that appears to fit the bill, however talking to an experienced development agency can help you make the decision.
Alternatively, find out about alternatives in our ultimate guide to the Umbraco CMS.
Choose the Right CMS for your business with C6D
If you aren’t sure which CMS is most suitable, Carbon Six Digital can help. We’ll ensure that no matter which CMS you decide is best for your project, it will be designed with user and editor experience in mind. Contact Carbon Six Digital today to start a conversation if you are unsure of your options.