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WordPress and Umbraco are both open source CMS systems used to build a variety of websites. After recently completing a complex Umbraco to WordPress migration, I decided to write a comparison piece on the pros and cons of WordPress vs Umbraco, so that I could highlight to other business owners the benefits of the two platforms.
With that in mind, let’s dive into an analysis of the two CMS platforms to find out which is the best choice for your business.
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WordPress vs Umbraco Market Share
When evaluating a CMS system for your website, a good place to start is the market share of the platforms you are comparing.
WordPress Market Share
Unsurprisingly, WordPress has the largest market share out of the two. WordPress powers 30% of all websites on the internet and 60% of all websites that use a CMS.
Pretty mind boggling stats.
Umbraco Market Share
Umbraco contrastingly has a tiny market share, according to w3Techs it powers less than 0.1% of all websites with a content management system.
Market share isn’t necessarily the be all and end all, but the above figures paint a fairly stark picture that in terms of alternative CMS systems, Umbraco is not among the most popular.
This one is won by WordPress.
WordPress vs Umbraco – Ease of Use
The ability to use your content management system to carry out basic tasks is an important consideration when selecting the right CMS for your website.
There will be tasks that need to be delegated to a developer on any website, but striking the right balance when it comes to ease of use can be the difference between a lot of headaches and plain sailing.
Some things to consider here:
- What do your team need to be able to do inhouse on the website without developer assistance?
- What can be outsourced?
- How much flexibility do you want to be able to expand and grow your website without large costs attached?
Umbraco Ease of Use
Umbraco is a CMS system designed for developers, as such it is not the most user friendly. The interface for managing your website is dated and not very intuitive.
This is because most tasks regarding how your website works and functions are handled on the back end behind the scenes.
WordPress Ease of Use
WordPress is relatively easy to use. There are easier to use CMS systems, WordPress offers a huge amount of control and customisation over your website, so it falls somewhere in the middle as far as ease of use goes.
It’s easy to carry out a variety of day of day to tasks on your website like adding new pages, changing how things look, adding on plugins with new features. Most premium WordPress themes also give you the ability to alter more complex parts of your website like how the header, footer, sidebars and navigation work – without code.
WordPress wins this one.
WordPress vs Umbraco – Customisation
Customising your website is perhaps the most important consideration when selecting a CMS. Being told something is not possible is the last thing a business owner wants to hear, when it comes to a new feature for their website.
WordPress and Umbraco are both open source, so both offer good options as far as customisation goes. Let’s find out where they differ on this point.
Umbraco is developer friendly when it comes to customisation. It is designed to be easy for developers to customise and extend Umbraco websites in terms of adding new features and customising existing ones.
Umbraco has a package library where it is possible to download and install new features for your Umbraco site.
The downside with Umbraco packages is, there aren’t as many as there are WordPress plugins and many of them require a developer to implement and manage.
WordPress is renowned for being highly customisable through custom code, plugins and extensions. Not only can WordPress be customised in this way, WordPress themes and page builders can be purchased and installed on your website giving the non technical user almost infinite methods of customizing their website without code.
The difference here, in my opinion, is that WordPress can be customised in the same way that Umbraco can, but it offers much more support for non technical users, or users with some technical knowledge, to customise their website without being a hard core techie.
This one goes to WordPress.
WordPress vs Umbraco – Page Builders
Page Builders, or What You See Is What You Get Editors, allow you to build your website without using any code. This is a big part of why WordPress has become the market leading CMS.
These tools let you drag and drop modules, which are blocks of functionality, then control how they look and feel without having to write any code. For example, many popular page builders have a posts widget, that lets you embed a list of your posts on the page and then control how they look in terms of design.
Without a page builder, or WYSIWYG editor, within your CMS, you won’t be able to visually design and build pages or sections of your website, you’ll have to rely on code. This is a big thing to consider – will you at times want to be able to visually edit the way your site looks, or its content?
Umbraco Page Builders
Umbraco is built for developers, so unfortunately it does not have any page builders as such. There are tools that make developing templates and dynamic template easy for developers.
There are also some useful widgets that come with Umbraco however, like the built in Form Builder, which allows you to build forms visually without using any code. This is built in the same spirit as a Page Builder, but of course it’s only for contact forms.
WordPress Page Builders
WordPress has a variety of feature rich page builders that you can use to build your entire website with.
Elementor, for example, can be used to build every single part of your website visually without code, including the header and footer, something that some other page builders struggle with.
WordPress vs Umbraco – Hosting
Where your website is hosted can influence a number of things like the performance, speed and accessibility of your website.
The ability to pick your own hosting provider is something you will have if you choose either WordPress or Umbraco, which is a good thing as a bad host can leave you pulling your hair out!
Umbraco can be hosted anywhere that supports the Umbraco CMS system, which requires a Windows server rather than Linux. As a result, there are less available hosting providers to choose from.
Siteground for example, who I would recommend as the best hosting provider on the market, do not offer Umbraco hosting.
However, Umbraco offer a cloud hosting solution called Umbraco Cloud starting at $30 per month. Unfortunately, this is quite a pricey solution, with the next tier of hosting moving to $470 per month (wow). On the initial tier, there is no Staging, unless you pay an extra $23 per month, and you can only host one website.
Support on an official Umbraco Cloud package costs extra starting at $5000 per year and 24/7 live chat is only offered on the enterprise edition, so this will not be a viable option for many business owners.
WordPress also offers the flexibility of being compatible with most hosting providers. As WordPress is the largest CMS, every major hosting provider supports WordPress websites and will be able to help you debug common issues.
The best hosting providers like Cloudways and Siteground are well versed in WordPress and you have the added benefit that they will be able to help you debug most issues and small fixes with your website in one way or another.
In comparison to Umbraco where you can take your chances with smaller providers offering their own Windows Servers, or use Umbraco Cloud, providers like Siteground offer shared hosting plans that are affordable and offer Staging environments and the ability to host multiple websites, starting at roughly $4.50 per month (converted from Euros below).
You can also get yourself a dedicated cloud plan on Cloudways starting from $10 per month for small WordPress sites. This comes with 24/7 support, 1 click Staging creation and more.
Winner – WordPress
WordPress vs Umbraco – Price
The cost of your website will likely be a factor in your decision making process, but it should not be the most important factor.
It’s important to get the right balance. The cheapest option is never the best option, but that doesn’t mean the most expensive is either. You should opt for a CMS with a palatable price tag that delivers the best quality and options to suit your business.
Unfortunately due to the fact that Umbraco is not as beginner friendly as WordPress, Umbraco websites cost more by default even at the low end when dealing with small sites. This is due to the fact non technical business owners will require assistance to setup even a basic Umbraco website.
There is less available beginner friendly documentation for Umbraco as well, given that it is aimed at developers, adding to the difficulty of a non technical person using Umbraco.
Umbraco websites are priced on developer hours and the availability of developers. Umbraco is a comparatively niche CMS system, which means there are less Umbraco specialists, which in turns means they charge more due to the relative lack of Umbraco work available.
Given the developer centric nature of Umbraco, basically everything will have to be done custom by the developer in Umbraco, as opposed to WordPress where there are lots of open source plugins and extensions to use and build on, many of which can be used by marketers or people with limited technical know how.
Umbraco has an additional layer of cost when it comes to hosting, which starts at $30 per month for the official Umbraco plan. This does not include support, which starts at $5000 per year, making this too expensive for many small businesses who simply don’t have this in the budget.
Websites using the WordPress CMS can be built for free, if you all require is a blog or a very simple templated website. Generally, you have the cost of a premium theme and hosting to pay.
Premium themes cost around $59 for the most feature rich, popular themes, and around $20 for those with less features and less sales.
You may also decide to purchase a premium page builder, like Elementor, which could run you an extra $50. If you have the time and patience to learn the basics, you can then build your own website.
If you’d like someone to build your WordPress website for you, the cost will vary and you will be paying for design and development, or just development if you want someone to setup a theme for you.
The plus side here is that there is a huge market of WordPress developers and agencies to choose from, there’s a provider to fit every budget and level of requirements, which means the cost in general will be lower.
WordPress vs Umbraco – Staging & Testing
As your website grows, you will be adding new features and functionality to it. How you manage this process is important and can be done either the right way or the wrong way.
Best practice is to develop new features and functionality on a Staging environment. This is an exact duplicate of your live website that is used for testing and development. Your customers don’t see this as it is usually on a hidden subdomain like testing.yourwebsite.com.
Once new features have been developed and tested they can pushed to your live website safely. In this method, you don’t start developing new features on your live website and your customers don’t end up viewing a website with loads of bugs, or one that is broken completely. This can be damaging for your brand and SEO if large bugs persist over a period of time.
Umbraco Staging & Testing
Staging and testing is usually done one of two ways. Through a version control tool like Git, or through built in Staging functionality on your hosting platform.
With Umbraco, you have the freedom of choosing your own host, so you can choose one with built in Staging, like Umbraco Cloud which is the official Umbraco hosting platform.
Some CMS systems are self hosted and don’t give you this freedom, so this is a plus for Umbraco, however it does have some downsides. As Umbraco is a niche CMS, you may find that your host of choice does not support Umbraco hosting, if you shop outside the official Umbraco hosting plans which are relatively expensive.
This would mean you were reliant on a version control tool like Git, which would require your developer to push live any changes for you. Using Git is more time intensive and is generally not a skill possessed by designers, marketers or ecommerce managers who may be involved in the management of your site day to day.
WordPress Staging & Testing
Like Umbraco, WordPress can be hosted anywhere, so you can pick a host like Cloudways that comes with built in Staging functionality to make testing and pushing new features live easy.
Unlike Umbraco, the majority of the best hosting companies are all equipped to host WordPress, so you can use their built in easy to use Staging functionality. Instead of having to use the command line like you do with Git as an alternative to Staging, there’s a visual interface for pushing changes live to your website.
WordPress vs Umbraco – Summary
WordPress and Umbraco are both powerful, customisable CMS systems. Umbraco is a niche CMS system with a smaller market share, that is favored by a small core of developers.
Umbraco may be a good option for mid sized businesses with a hosting and development budget in excess of $10,000 per year, which will cover hosting, support and a maintenance retainer on the Umbraco platform. If you can justify this cost, or afford to have your own Umbraco specialist on payroll, Umbraco may be a better platform for your developer to make a lightweight, highly customised website for your business.
Due to its high costs and the fact that it is too technical for non technical users, like marketers and small business owners, it’s easy to see however why WordPress has the larger market share and is the better choice for small to medium sized businesses.
WordPress is cheaper, leaner and provides many options for all your team to contribute to maintaining and growing the website. It has a huge marketplace of plugins and extensions and a massive developer pool, meaning you will be never in short supply of someone to help you with your website – at an affordable cost.