The world of content management systems (CMS) can seem confusing at times; with so many different products on the market, it’s sometimes hard to know which is best for you and your organisation. Based on our years of industry experience, we can help you decide which product is right depending on the size of your business and your organisational needs.
A huge difference between the two systems is that Umbraco is open-source, which simply means that it’s free to use in its ‘out-of-the-box’ state. It’s backed by a commercial organisation, who will charge you for support, and you’ll need to pay for extra modules if and when you require them. Whereas Sitecore is closed-source, meaning it is a fully commercial application that can seem quite expensive, but everything comes with your licence; so there’s no need for additional plugins or third-party tools (in most cases). The fundamental technology of both platforms is similar, with both using the same Microsoft stack technology, database and language, however, the sheer amount of computing power needed is vastly different. You can run Umbraco on a small web server, whereas Sitecore is designed to scale to millions of users straight away.
Comparing these two is a little like comparing apples with well, apples. Both near enough do the same thing, however, the purpose of each platform is what differentiates them. Each will be able to do the job, but depending on your needs, one will be able to do it better than the other. So let’s compare both systems along with their features and offerings in a side by side comparison…
Umbraco’s setup is simple. Within the development environment, a zip file can be downloaded and run, and then within minutes, you’d have a running and fully operational website. This is because Umbraco uses a very simple out-of-the-box UI, meaning that it’s very quick and easy to set up and the learning curve is much shorter for users, especially those that are new to Umbraco.
Whereas Sitecore takes a lot more practice to get up and running. It’s far more complex to install when compared to Umbraco, however, Sitecore is often praised for this, with the platform displaying its capabilities and complexities from the get-go. This is largely due to Sitecore having a much wider and much more extensive out-of-the-box feature set, making the setup and configuration process a much longer one. To get the most out of Sitecore and all of its features, it’s recommended that a trained Sitecore developer works on the project.
While Sitecore is far more complex to use, the licence provides you with on-going support to help you and your team get the most out of the platform. Whereas Umbraco doesn’t offer this until you pay a premium.
As mentioned previously, Umbraco is a simple CMS even from the initial set up. This doesn’t change throughout the project's lifespan either. Umbraco remains straightforward for authors to use, the interface is user friendly and requires minimal developer work.
In comparison, Sitecore is a substantial CMS that requires more technical savvy experts to take advantage of its offerings. It is far more complex to manage, and simplicity depends highly on good architecture and initial set-up. Although Sitecore is complicated, it has many more features available to users when compared to Umbraco, in terms of scalability.
Sitecore is geared for running very large, multi-lingual, personalisable sites with millions of visitors. It would be possible to do this on Umbraco but the platform isn’t geared up in the same way. Umbraco is intended to be easy and straightforward to use for individual sites that are not operating in international locations and driving millions of users to the site.
However, this isn’t to say that Umbraco cannot be scaled, but this option doesn’t come out of the box. You’d need the help of CDNs and other caching services to successfully scale your website, along with third-party tools. While Umbraco can be scaled, it could potentially hit its limit, as Umbraco isn’t designed for huge websites. This will not likely be a technical limit, but more of a developer/business limit, whereby the project will become too big and require a lot of work. If you’re looking to eventually scale up your website, Sitecore might be the better option for you.
Umbraco is a website engine that comes with fewer customisable options when compared to Sitecore. Sitecore is all about helping marketers drive personalised content, excellent customer experiences and has built-in analytics. Some of these features can result in a slight increase in the cost of the licence but they are available straight away. However, with Umbraco, these personalisation tools are simply add on tools that will incur a fee.
Nothing is precluding you from using third-party tools with Sitecore; it's just that the tools are shipped straight out of the box meaning there isn’t any need to source additional tools.
Sitecore is made up of many components, making it easier for marketers to create behaviour based rules. System administrators can create personas and assign profiles to these which allow audience segmentation and contextual content delivery. Upon every visit, Sitecore creates a record of the user’s activity and, if several predefined rules are triggered in the session, personalised content can be delivered to the right persona at the right time. This could be based upon a repeat visitor if they have followed a brand’s social profile for example; making the path to conversion simpler. Sitecore's components are highly advanced and are simple enough to use.
To set up personalisation, you are required to use the Rule Set Editor to add rules and actions to a specific component in Sitecore. The Rule Set Editor is very intuitive and uses logic-based rules to determine what content a user should be served with. You can also personalise content based on the pages a particular visitor navigates to on your site. This is content profiling, whereby Sitecore will actively monitor content progression and serve users with content that correlates with the user’s current journey. Content profiling can help you gain a better understanding of your user’s behaviour, actions, and interests as they engage with your website.
In comparison, Umbraco doesn’t come with personalisation built-in as standard. If you’re looking to service users with content depending on how they interact with your site or depending on their predefined characteristics then you’ll need to use an app such as "Personalisation Groups". This is a Umbraco app designed for providing personalised content to your visitors. Using this app will allow you to customise the presentation of pages and lists to different groups of visitors, as defined by criteria created by your developers and editors.
In addition to this Umbraco have also recently launched their uMarketingSuite which will be discussed within the next section, that has built-in personalisation functions similar to what Sitecore offers.
If your project doesn’t need personalisation, Umbraco has the advantage of being a minimalist CMS that doesn’t contain unnecessary features that you’re unlikely to use. However offering your users personalised content is very advantageous, allowing you to connect with users on a deeper level, ensuring they are being served with content that resonates with their wants and needs by tailoring their online experience and adding value to their journey.
Sitecore developments are made up of many components, making it simple for marketers to analyse their activity as an on-going process. This allows marketers to make adjustments and improvements to their website month on month, which is informed by the advanced analytics Sitecore supplies. Sitecore’s advanced marketing automation tools include A/B testing, engagement automation, follow up emails, goal tracking and their new machine learning feature: Cortex. These built-in analytics allow marketers to track website changes and identify what is or isn’t working on their site. The built-in analytics comes with a complete customer view that records user interactions to help marketers understand how users are interacting with the site, which is very valuable when it comes to improving your website's user experience.
While Sitecore comes with marketing functions and analytics built-in, Umbraco does not. However, Umbraco has recently announced its new UMarketingSuite App which comes with additional out-of-the-box functionalities like A/B testing, 360 degrees profiling, web analytics and personalisation. Simply install this suite and transform your Umbraco CMS into an enterprise platform similar to Sitecore. The suite is very intuitive, with many functionalities being built from the ground up, meaning that it’s user-friendly as simple enough for juniors and senior marketing professionals alike to use.
Umbraco being a smaller company has fewer product offerings, which is why you’re more likely to require third-party tools. They have an “App Store” to allow more third party contributions, but the availability here is limited and is likely to incur a cost.
Whereas Sitecore, due to it coming with many advanced features already, it doesn’t necessarily require the use of third-party tools, however additional products are available. These include Email Experience Manager, Forms, and eCommerce - although these are likely to add extra cost to the licensing fees.
Sitecore should be the corporate platform for all websites operating in an enterprise. While Sitecore is complex to manage and use, the payoffs for larger organisations completely outweigh this, allowing for an effortless customer journey. It’s also a platform that can grow with you, so if you’re a medium-size business now, then due to its ability to handle complex requirements, it can scale easily with you going forward. Due to Sitescore's complex nature, you will need to train the authors on how to use it. You will also need dev-ops managing the servers and database environments. However, Sitecore can be adapted to suit the needs of the business, allowing users to create an architecture solution that works for everyone.
In comparison, Umbraco is a brilliant option for small and medium businesses with casual authors due to its simplicity. Umbraco is simple, and content authors will find it easy to use on a day to day basis. Not only that, but developers can spin up a site in little to no time, as long as there aren’t many customisable elements. When you apply all the demands of the substantial enterprises, you will find you are customising everything, and it will no longer be an easy CMS. Instead, it will be highly technical, and somewhat time-consuming.
Do you already have a Sitecore or Umbraco website, but want to make sure you’re getting the most out of it? Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help.
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