TLDR: WordPress is better for those looking at ease of setup and low costs, but this is at the sacrifice of security. Umbraco, while not as cost-effective when reaching medium to enterprise-level, does scale far better and is more secure than WordPress.
Umbraco and WordPress are two popular yet very different content management systems (CMS); they both have their pros and cons, but which one is best for your business?
WordPress is the most popular CMS on the internet with a massive 32.5% of all websites on the internet using it.
WordPress can be set up with a single click, and this ease of installation continues throughout the system. With over 50,000 plugins and themes available for WordPress that can all be installed at the click of a button, it’s easy to see why WordPress is so attractive to users. These plugins and themes can provide your site with advanced functionality at the click of a button and a beautiful front-end to go with it.
Umbraco on the other-hand can be easy to set up if you go down the cloud hosting route. Although sometimes not preferred, it is the easier way to get your site up and running extremely quickly.
Umbraco also has its own plugins in the form of packages which can be installed with the click of a button. There are, however, much fewer of these and many of them are built to add functionality for developers as opposed to the user.
Both WordPress and Umbraco are open-source, which means both are entirely free to use and no licensing fees are required. Although open-source both CMS still need hosting.
WordPress is built with PHP which allows for more hosting options. You can go either Linux or Windows-based, although Linux tends to be the more cost-effective of the two.
Because Umbraco is built on ASP.Net, a technology developed by Microsoft, it comes as no surprise that you’re stuck with Windows when it comes to hosting. If your business is small to medium-sized, then you could use shared ASP.Net hosting which has the same price point as Linux shared hosting.
However, if you have a medium to enterprise-level business, you will want to look towards Amazon Web Services (AWS) or a dedicated Windows Server.
Although WordPress can be seen as the more cost-effective of the two thanks to working with Linux, to get the most out of WordPress or Umbraco, you will still be best dealing with a dedicated agency which will increase the cost regardless of the CMS you use but will provide the best experience.
In terms of scalability, we need to look at the underlying technology that both WordPress and Umbraco use; WordPress is built on PHP, whilst Umbraco is built on ASP.Net.
PHP is mostly considered poor at scaling due to the fact that it only supports a single thread which means that only one instruction can be executed at a time. This performance issue will not be apparent on smaller sites where there are much fewer instructions per minute, but as the traffic increases so does the number of instructions and the time it takes for those instructions to execute.
ASP.Net supports multi-threaded programming, which is the opposite of single-threaded; this allows for multiple instructions to be executed simultaneously allowing developers to spread the website load much more effectively.
Both PHP and ASP.Net are stable technologies when used correctly. The issue with stability is going to lie more with how the CMS is used.
WordPress, with how easy it is to add plugins can very easily create stability issues. These plugins may not be updated, may not work well with other installed plugins or themes and could potentially be abandoned and lack necessary updates to keep your WordPress site from remaining stable.
Whilst Umbraco also allows for the use of packages these are much less likely to cause stability issues as with ASP.Net it’s much easier and common-place to handle exceptions in a way that will not affect the stability of your website, although this relies on a developer that knows how to handle exceptions.
When using WordPress whilst it can be secure when used correctly if you’re using third-party plugins or themes then not all of these are regularly updated and often end up abandoned.
These plugins or themes aren’t always built with the highest quality and in many cases, aren’t following best practices to remain secure.
With so many WordPress websites relying on third-party plugins and themes, this can frequently mean it’s not possible to update to the latest version of WordPress without these breaking, keeping your site from receiving essential security updates.
This reliance on third-party plugins and themes is leaving many WordPress websites vulnerable to hackers. Whilst these plugins or themes may have become vulnerable due to being abandoned and missing essential security updates, some of these themes and plugins are purchased and updated by hackers who have built-in back-doors giving them full access to your website without your knowledge, this is called a supply chain attack.
Based on statistics taken from WpWhiteSecurity.com, they found that 73.2% of WordPress websites found in the Alexa top 1 million sites were vulnerable to attacks, which can be detected using free automated tools. This popularity of WordPress works against it in the sense that known vulnerabilities become public knowledge very quickly leaving thousands of websites vulnerable to these potential attacks.
Umbraco with being built on ASP.Net does have more security features available to developers than PHP does for WordPress, but these security features will only work well when they’re implemented by a developer that knows how these features work and what they’re used for. As ASP.Net is developed by Microsoft for businesses, security is more of a concern for them and as such has had more attention in terms of quality assurance and security updates than the likes of PHP.
Umbraco is also less reliant on plugins, and many security patches are backwards compatible meaning that even if you may not be able to upload your website due to an outdated package or bespoke feature, the security update can still be applied.
If you’re looking for a CMS that is more cost-effective and can potentially get you to market quicker then WordPress is the way to go. Although something to bear in mind is that if you intend to scale your business up to large or enterprise-level then you may eventually need to move away from WordPress onto a multi-threaded CMS to handle the increased traffic.
However, relying on plugins and themes rather than hiring an agency with experienced developers could leave your website vulnerable to being hacked.
For those looking to be handling a lot of traffic, or looking to soon expand and don’t mind the initial time and monetary investment then Umbraco is the way to go.
Both of these CMSs' strengths rely on experienced developers following best practices. Bespoke functionality that makes use of multi-threading in Umbraco for example, has to be written by an experienced developer.
With the likes of themes and plugins for WordPress, these should always be built bespoke by an agency to ensure they’re kept up to date, follow best practice with security in mind and also to reduce the risk of a supply chain attack from occurring.