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

Good luck to finalists

Rade sends the best of luck to the finalists in this year’s EADT Business Awards. This time last year, Jake and Charles were dressed in their finest as they went on stage to receive our award in the Business Broadband category.

Rade - EADT Business Awards winnerThe award recognised the success of our innovative Practical Pig App training tool. The app makes better use of broadband by downloading video clips to a tablet or mobile whilst in range of a good signal which can then be watched and discussed with stockmen out on the farm.

Similarly, Beef & Lamb Lite allows farmers to create a personal library of technical information which they can access when internet coverage is patchy. They can also stay in touch with the latest market prices with statistics fed from 140+ auction marts. One reviewer said “It’s fantastic for reference or training”.

Fram Farmers Mobile is another light-weight app which we launched last year. We designed it to function with just GPRS so members can place their orders while away from the office.

Rade is working with AHDB Horticulture to build a digital version of their Crop Walkers Guides which will help agronomists and farmers identify pests, disease and deficiencies. A reporting tool allows incidents to be reported with both photograph and geo-tag location.

Now we are starting work on a Biosecurity hazard perception tool. Filming is underway for the interactive video which will test students, stockmen, managers and visitors on their knowledge of biosecurity.

All in all, it's been a busy year proving that all businesses can benefit from the flexibility and efficiency of digital tools, even those still out of reach of superfast broadband.

BPEX Biosecurity App

Following on the success of the award winning Practical Pig app developed for BPEX, Rade has been selected to design and develop a second app and supporting website.

Blythburgh pigletThe aim of the app is to alert stockmen and visitors to pig units of the potential hazards of poor biosecurity. Using interactive video and multiple choice questions, the user will be able to watch and learn how to avoid spreading disease.

Why is this important? Two diseases, PEDv and Salmonella, have started to make an appearance across eastern Europe, the USA and Canada and they have the potential to cause pig farmers huge issues with the health of their herd. The app will be at the vanguard of some very serious measures to be taken within the industry by using education on prevention.

So actually, Rade is helping to protect the national pig herd from some devastating diseases and ensuring the continuation of a decent bacon sandwich.

Filming starts soon and the app is scheduled for launch in the autumn.

If you have an idea for an app and you’d like to speak to us about it, give Charles a call on 01502 478000 or email crobinson@rade.net

Carbon Charter award

Rade has been awarded the Suffolk Carbon Charter, at Bronze level, with praise for their significant progress and community engagement.

The Carbon Charter provides public recognition of companies who have effective plans to monitor and reduce carbon emissions and a shared goal of making Suffolk the Greenest County.

The Charter panel commented that this was a very strong Bronze accreditation with Rade already making significant progress; they praised a clear target for further improvement and a strong ethos evidenced by community engagement. 

Jake Barton, Managing Director commented: “It is heartening that the efforts we make to reduce our environmental impact and support the local community have been recognised. Contributory to our success has been the implementation of a superfast wireless broadband service.”

Rade’s green credentials also extend to their client work. Digital projects include online Carbon Calculators for the conservation charity World Land Trust (WLT) and mapping websites for London authorities.

WLT’s carbon calculator tools are regularly updated for the latest scientific thinking. They allow individuals to make lifestyle offset calculations and enable organisations to quantify their greenhouse gas emissions.

Greater London Authority’s London Heat Map encourages local authorities to share information for the viability of community heating systems to help achieve carbon reductions in the capital. The interactive GIS tool for the London Waste and Recycling Board helps to identify opportunities for efficiencies in waste management.

Progressive website for Independence

Support tights and mobility aids – not the most glamourous merchandise but it has a significant market, nonetheless. Last month Rade Digital launched a new website for Independence, a family firm with a strong ethos of helping customers ‘live life to the full’ by supplying high quality aids for everyday living.

Nick and Judy Holdsworth started Independence back in 1985 and today offer a wide range of products. The new Independence website is mobile-friendly, easy to manage and has an embedded back office system. The secure online shop features lots of great ideas to make life easier; from hosiery to herbal ointment.

Nick’s aim for the new online store was to have an all-in-one solution, by dealing with a single supplier and avoiding complex integration. Rade was chosen for their experience in building and supporting high volume online stores.

We look on ecommerce as a business system rather than simply a website” says Jake Barton, MD at Rade Digital. “We have been building mail order ecommerce systems for 15 years with our largest customer taking, at peak, 6000 orders a day”.

A large percentage of Independence’s orders are placed by telephone, so it is crucial that the team can process orders quickly and efficiently on the new system. Reducing work load and data duplication, stock, orders and shipping are now managed entirely through their Magento store making the former back office system redundant.

The configuration of the online shop was not without its complications. Certain products qualify for VAT relief, where the customer is eligible on medical grounds, which needs a customised checkout process.

Key to the design had to be usability by the target market; the older generation and their carers. Employing responsive design, the website adapts to the screen being used. On a mobile screen, the layout is simplified with easy to select buttons and links. Not only does this support less agile users, it means the Independence website does not fall foul of Google’s latest mobile-friendly algorithm.

Have you checked your website on Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test? Talk to Rade if you’re looking for an agency with the technical know-how to deliver a website that meets all your objectives.

SCBE at Hinton

Rade is sponsoring the Suffolk Coast Business 'Routes to Market'' event taking place here in Hinton, at High Lodge Shooting & Leisure on Wednesday 25th March. Speakers will give insight on generating demand for your products and services.

You may ask: "Where is Hinton?" it is after all only a hamlet - not even a village - on Suffolk's heritage coast. Far from being the-middle-of-nowhere, we think Hinton might just be the-middle-of-everywhere.

Consider, if you will, within a 5 mile radius you will find...

  • RSPB Minsmere - home of Springwatch, sharing the wildlife we can see from our car park
  • Henham Park - home of the Latitude festival - we can listen to the bands (if the wind is in the right direction)
  • Southwold - home of Adnams fine beer, brewed across the estuary - famed across the world
  • Blythburgh - home of Free Range Pork, served at all the most discerning restaurants

That definitely deserves a pin in the map, don't you think? What else would you add to the list?

2014: What a Year

2014 has been a great year at Rade, here's our review of the exciting projects we've been involved in over the past 12 months. We look forward to working with you in 2015!

January:We launched a new online store for John Catt Bookshop, the leading publisher of educational guides. Work also started on re-platforming Lighting for Gardens, another site using Magento eCommerce software, this time more complex with distributor, wholesaler, retail and trade accounts.

Linx China

February: Reflecting growth in overseas sales, our new site for Simtech Aitchison, the direct drill specialists, included a dedicated French language site. Amongst other multi-language sites, later in the year we rolled out a new version of Linx China.

March: Many of our clients are enjoying the benefits of upgrading their IT infrastructure. In April, we installed new equipment for a garden centre, the London office of a charity and a Suffolk hotel. Building networks with firm foundations for future growth.

April: RSPB Minsmere is right on our doorstep and it was a great challenge helping to setup a communications network for BBC Springwatch. Adding to our green credentials, we also created an action plan in response to the Energy & Green Procurement report from Groundwork Suffolk.

May: BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today ran a feature on the innovative Practical Pig app which we created for BPEX. The app is responsive, to work on all screen sizes, fully content managed to allow the resource to grow and was designed to work out in the field, away from an internet signal. Also this month we helped the World Land Trust, a charity we have long supported, with coding for the Carbon Calculator on their Great Garden Give.

EBLEX Mobile app

June: EBLEX Mobile gives livestock producers market prices at their fingertips with a feed providing statistics from +140 auction marts. The app also allows farmers to create a library of technical manuals, which they can access even when internet coverage is patchy.

Also in June, we were interviewed by ITV Anglia about the impact of high speed broadband (or the lack of it) on the local economy.

July: In July, Jake was on stage when Rade were announced winners at the EADT Business Awards; in the Business Broadband category which recognises initiatives to make better use of broadband to support business improvement.

We're also pleased when our online marketing services help to raise profiles and lead towards increased trade and bookings. 

Fram Farmers Mobile

August: Fram Farmers Mobile is a light-weight app used by members to order crop inputs and general supplies. It is designed to function with just GPRS coverage, to be used away from the office, and securely links to the member’s account - a great benefit when you don't want to be stuck at your desk. 

September: Adnams can now control their core branding while allowing landlords to show the individuality of their pubs on their new pub website system which we designed. The first sites to go live were Five Bells at Wrentham and Kings Head at Orford

October: People on the Suffolk coast can now benefit from hi-speed broadband with our new wireless internet service. We’re offering speeds of up to 100Mbit/sec up and down – without the need for a landline. Services are already live in Benacre, Darsham, Dunwich, Hinton, Leiston and Westleton and we have lots more sites to survey.Broadband speedtest

November: Coinciding with Agri-Tech Week, we were featured in the launch issue of the a new farming journal, East Anglian Farming World. Under the heading ‘Growing app-etite for in-field technology’ the article explains how the popularity of smartphones and tablets has enabled us to design apps which give access to information whenever and wherever it’s needed.

December: Earlier this month we relaunched the DairyCo Breeding+ site with new functionality. The original site was developed back in 2005, the redesign includes access to new reports, more filters for easier search and completely revised factsheets. The very large data sets are automatically imported to provide a current resource on the genetics of the national herd.

A full year and lots of variety of projects, we think you'll agree. Give us a call on 01502 478000 with your ideas for web projects and online marketing and we'll be pleased to be involved.


Even More Domains

Nominet is contacting .co.uk owners to remind them of their rights to register the .uk version of their domain. Uptake of the new domain has fallen short of expectations, with only a handful of companies moving over to use .uk for their marketing. Having said that, it’s important to protect your brand and that is why our July blog article recommended you register your .uk before the free-for-all in 2019.

400+ choice

Over the past year, a stream of new domains has been released to the market. Amongst the most popular are .club, .guru and .photography, as well as .berlin and .london. There are many descriptive domains being launched - .agency, .gallery and .repair - with many more on the way.

Promoted as the alternative to .com, without any business connotation, .xyz is also receiving a lot of press. Yes, it has had more registrations than all the others, but those numbers have been inflated by free registrations. That has gained .xyz a lot of publicity, not all positive. Trying to bolster legitimate sales, you’ll now find you can register a .xyz for just 99p – a tenth of the price of a .uk. At that price, many people are choosing to register for the short term, to see if it can live up to the hype.


With many of the new domains registered to individuals, rather than companies, there are concerns about brand hi-jacking. Take macdonalds.xyz and calvinklein.xyz as examples. You won't find a website at that address but the owners are hoping a decent offer will be made one day.

The expansion of domain names is an opportunity to grab a keyword domain. It's not expensive to register a .xyz domain but it has become costly to protect all domains for your brand. Give us a call to check the domains associated with your name or trademark.



It's time to go mobile

For the first time, mobile online shopping has overtaken desktop. Figures for April to June 14 show 52% of traffic to retail websites came from smartphones and tablets.

The IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmarking Report also reveals that 36% of online sales are now made via a mobile device. Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, said: “Considering that as recently as 2010 mobile visits to e-retail sites accounted for less than 3% of traffic, this latest milestone represents staggering growth of 2,000% over the past 4 years.”

So what is the best way to cater for your mobile visitors? We recommend using mobile-friendly, responsive design. The layout adapts to the visitor’s screen size, ensuring they see your site as you want them to, whatever the device. Plus, unlike having a separate mobile website, you only have one site to maintain.

5 things to consider when planning a responsive website:

* Adapt the navigation for touchscreen users - easy to select buttons and links.

* Identify the essential content – what information is most important to your mobile visitors?

* Make your message clear - rethink your text.

* Simplify the layout and functionality; turn off features which won’t be used on a smartphone.

* Reduce images – make your site faster to load and free up screen space.

Responsive design helps you to future-proof your website by allowing it to transform from one screen size to another. You want your site to look good on any platform, whether a desktop PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone, and you don’t want any visitors to miss vital information.

Having a mobile-friendly website is becoming an essential part of any business and you’ll be amazed at what is achievable on a small screen.

Is your website working hard enough?

Rather like an employee review, pose these questions to assess your website's potential as part of a winning team:

Does your website communicate clearly?
Visitors need to find key information without too much searching. Consider design, layout and content to make proper use of your online presence; not forgetting your mobile visitors. Make contact details and CTA (call to action) buttons prominent, to help convert your visitors into leads.

Is your website working efficiently?
Visitors won't hang around if your site takes a long time to load. Making adjustments to the coding, images, layout and the running order of scripts can make your website work far more efficiently. Also, make sure you are investing in professional web hosting to support such an important part of your business.

Is your website customer focused?
Reviewing your website traffic and visitors' behaviour patterns will give you vital clues to how well your website is performing; what's proving most effective and what needs attention. Analytics tools can help gauge the success of a promotion, monitor which pages are most popular and which areas are being overlooked.

Do you need to expand your website's skills?
Keep an eye on your competitors and try to keep one step ahead by introducing new features that increase interaction with your website visitors. This could be by using video clips to demonstrate a product, adding event booking to save you admin time or including an area for secure document access, whether by clients or sales teams.

Does your website comply with the law? 
The Disability Discrimination Act made sure websites were accessible to all. Since then, accessibility has become a fundamental of website design, improving user experience for everyone. The EU e-Privacy Directive is one of a list of legal requirements for your website and email database. Make sure you comply with the law.

You may already update your website by posting news, offers and tweaking pages, but there is good reason to include a broader appraisal. For a little time invested, your website can make an even bigger contribution to your business.