WordPress vs Umbraco - which should you be using?

We come across this debate virtually daily and thought it was high time that we made a comparison.

There isn’t a simple answer over which is better, both offer very adequate solutions.
The question is, to what?

WordPress is a free blogging system which is very well supported by developers all over the world. This can be pushed into being used as a content management system. Depending on your hosting company, you may have the option of a one-click install. It’s very easy to create a simple free site. There are free designs (themes) sitting on the web waiting for you to download – a lot now are even mobile friendly. The functionality is almost limitless due to the number of plug-ins that you can install (a whole bunch of them being free), and bingo, you’re up and running.

…And did I mention that a lot of this is free?

If you’re not very careful though, all this ‘FREEness’ can come at a cost…

Umbraco is a Content Management System which is very well supported by developers all over the world. Chances are, you’ll need a web developer to install this on a server for you. The themes sitting (free) on the web are fairly limited so you’ll need someone to design it for you. The functionality is almost limitless provided you have a decent .NET/MVC developer to build stuff for you, but it’s quick and clean and easy and best of all, very secure… and bingo, you’re up and running.

…And did I mention that a lot of this is NOT free?

So why would anyone favour building a site on Umbraco?

With so many sites utilising the WordPress blogging system as a CMS now, it becomes a very easy target for hackers. Why? Because probably the vast majority of people using the systems, are building small sites for small businesses and are not web developers – (and after all, that’s one of its [free] selling points) – you don’t need to be a code wizard and better, you don’t need to learn… which potentially leaves you wide open… The worst thing? Chances are you won’t even know!

WordPress, to their credit, are very hot on this and release security updates probably every 2 weeks or so (that’s how big the threat is!). You can set your site to auto-update with the latest version, that’s easy, but this then brings an issue of its own.

Remember all those free plug-ins you used to make contact forms, and keep track of your visitor numbers, and create pricing tables, and improve your SEO, and to send all your subscribers to MailChimp, and optimise images, and create a sitemap, and create a photo gallery, and create an events calendar… (you get the idea…)? Not only is every single one of these slowing your site down, all of these have to be compatible with the latest version of WordPress otherwise they will break. Chances are, if it’s developed by a reputable company, the plugin fix will be swift (swift can sometimes mean a week or two).

Umbraco on the other hand is built AS a content management system. Let me just pause there for a moment…

Yup… I said a content management system.

Yes, there are some plug-ins, they generally cost ££ but with your ‘half-decent .NET developer’, building functionality is a breeze – the system is entirely extendable and can be made to do pretty much anything you want.

And yes, you’ll need a site designed, but then it’s exclusively yours – not one you’re going to see over and over again because guess what, you’re not the only person to have taken advantage of the FREE theme.

Big… and I mean BIG companies are running their sites on Umbraco - Heinz, Microsoft, multiple financial institutions, IT companies, even the official .NET site and a property group running 47 high street brands from one installation!

The comparative cost of setting up an Umbraco site is nowhere near what you might think it is. It’s a perfectly good system for smaller companies - if the big companies are using something, you might just want to take their lead!

So who is the winner?

Remember the first paragraph? What exactly do you want to do?

Invariably, we don’t ever build a standalone blog so where we are asked to use an open source system, Umbraco will always be our cms of choice.

Let me make it even easier.
If you had £100k, would you buy a Ferrari or a Tractor?
What exactly do you want to do?
Do you want to do the Cannonball Run or plough a field?

Each has its own merits, just don’t try to pull a plough with a Ferrari…

Posted by Steve Rooke