In a nutshell
Both systems are open source, meaning they are supported and developed by a community and you don’t pay a licence fee to use them. If we were to summarise each system in a nutshell it would be:
WordPress is a blogging platform with a huge library of community created themes and plugins which enable you to create a blog very quickly with little or no programming skills.
Umbraco is an extendible platform providing Content Management System functionality for websites and applications that require easy to use, flexible, bespoke features with as little or as much freedom as required.
Website structure and flexibility
WordPress has its roots firmly established as a blogging platform. Whilst it can be (and is) used as a CMS all content is built around Pages, Posts and Comments.
This is fine for small sites but gets difficult to manage with larger sites. Compare this to Umbraco where you have the flexibility to design your own page types and define your own rich structure in an easy to navigate Content Tree.
Instead of Pages, Posts and Comments you create exactly what you need whether it’s a page, person, product item – there are no limitations and the result is a website that makes sense for the business.
Simplicity and Quality
WordPress is very easy for non-programmers to create websites. This can be a problem though. We see lots of sites that were built with no consideration to basic programming principles with code copied, pasted, chopped and hacked leaving a mass of 'spaghetti code' which you need to unravel. This makes updates very costly, often requiring a re-write.
Whilst there are some fantastic WordPress websites out there built by some great developers, our experience and the experiences of our peers is that because they can be built quickly by people with little or no programming skills – they often are.
Umbraco typically requires an experienced developer to design and build a website. It takes discipline and understanding to design and build a successful website and just because you can do it without writing a line of code, doesn’t mean you should.
An Umbraco website will last for many years and have the ability to be successfully extended and scaled when needs arise instead of having to be rewritten.
A plugin is a pre-built function that a website might perform such as a contact form, survey, shopping cart etc. WordPress has a vast number of plugins and templates available. This is one of the main reasons why it can be so quick to get a website up and running.
If you have a simple website there is a good chance that you can find a plugin to fit your needs but what happens when the plugin doesn’t quite solve your business need? You need to find a plugin developer who can create and maintain it for you.
Plugins are also a big cause of another more serious problem for website owners – security vulnerabilities. In most cases you don’t know who has built a plugin that you are going to use and rely on for your business website. If a plugin is not properly designed, built, and more importantly – updated, then you could be leaving yourself open to attacks.
With Umbraco you are more likely to get a complete solution designed entirely by a trusted developer partner, as opposed to many moving parts put together by unknown third parties.
A WordPress website is generally considered to be cheaper than an Umbraco website. WordPress is only cheaper if you use off-the-peg templates and pre-built plugins. If this is all you need then great but your website is going to look like someone else’s.
There are some great WordPress programmers out there. But they are skilled programmers and they will cost you just as much as a skilled Umbraco programmer.
When embarking on a new website project you need to ask yourself “What do you want your website to do?” and decide whether you want to do it yourself or partner with an agency.
If you want a simple website or blog and are looking to keep costs down by using plugins and templates then use WordPress.
If you want to build a bespoke website that will adapt to your business needs and partner with an agency that is going to deliver with the ability to scale and extend with your business, then Umbraco is a solid choice.