Choosing the right web platform for a mid-size business


The path to the right web platform starts with understanding the financial models, which applications are most important to your operations and what you hope to achieve once it’s in place.

21 Jul 2021
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Matt Jones - Marketing Director



Mid-size businesses - companies with perhaps a few hundred to a few thousand employees - often have complex digital strategy requirements. They already have a variety of digital tools in place, and business change and growth puts them in a regular state of technological flux. Choosing their new or next generation CMS means trying to discern not only what they need now but also what they’ll need a few years down the line.

Flexibility in CMS software is important for pivoting from one type of content to another, something we talk about a lot. But equally vital, especially for a mid-size business, in a strategic tool such as a CMS is elasticity. By that, we mean the software’s ability to react and respond to a business’s needs and its growth both in the short term - a product launch, for example- and the long term.

We primarily offer new web platform development in Umbraco and Kentico because we feel they are well placed to provide that type of flexibility and elasticity that mid-size clients require.

Nothing but .NET

Both Umbraco and Kentico are .NET platforms, which means they are developed on a Microsoft supported framework. Microsoft .NET is our preferred framework, and we have built our expertise around technologies that use it. 

Its flexibility in language and operating system means we can cater more exactly to our clients’ needs. Even more importantly, Microsoft’s reliability is key to our specialisation. Access to a library of standard code functions creates a consistent development environment. And the sheer size of Microsoft and its development community means there is a solid foundation of support and security to back up our work. 

So, for a mid-size business what is there to choose between two CMS platforms that are both developed on the same framework by the same agency?

What’s new

Last year, the differences would have been mostly around how a company was prepared to pay for functionality—all in one go at the start (Kentico), or gradually as business developed (Umbraco)? And wrapped up in that question would have been decisions about how to go about building a web platform. Do you want to pick and choose each service module individually (Umbraco) or do you want your platform to bring a lot out of the box (Kentico)?

Since then, a couple of important changes have altered the landscape somewhat when it comes to choosing between these two. While both are still sound options for mid-size businesses, including those experiencing growth, Kentico and Umbraco have differ a bit more now, where before they had more in common.

Money matters

Kentico’s license model has changed significantly in the last year. Previously you bought the latest version of Kentico, and chose a license tier according to your specific needs. Every couple of years, a new version would be released, and every few versions you’d need to rebuy the product in order to maintain a useful level of support. 

Now they’ve moved to a subscription software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. You pay annually to always access the latest Kentico Xperience software. The advantage is clear. You never have to rebuy the same product or go through the pain of migrating to a much newer version. Support is always available. On the other hand, for some companies, the up front costs of a licensed CMS have always been a barrier. And with ongoing monthly subscription fees in the new Kentico model, for some it is simply cost prohibitive as a web platform entry point.

The Umbraco license model hasn’t changed. It remains open-source, which means there is no licensing cost for the software. What that means, however, is that you must bring together the features and functions you want and need and integrate them into your Umbraco CMS to get enterprise level performance, and that is likely to add costs. Additionally, Umbraco’s community support model means seeking answers from other users. Alternatively you can pay separately for an in-house support package.

Set up shop

The one major change in features is around the e-commerce offering, specifically support for a Ucommerce  module. Ucommerce is a powerful and popular .NET webshop integration. Kentico previously collaborated with Ucommerce to offer it as a partnered integration on older versions of Kentico. Moving forward, with Kentico’s new model of annual subscription licensing and continuous version upgrades, they are offering an own-brand e-commerce option. 

The upside to this is that it’s already there in Xperience. As is the general advantage with Kentico, it’s a feature out of the box. Because it’s Kentico’s own, it communicates seamlessly with all of the other Kentico features. 

On the other hand, Ucommerce and Umbraco do have a partnership—a strong one. Ucommerce is the top e-commerce option for Umbraco websites, and like Umbraco it starts with a free version and grows up from there. That means that you could get an e-commerce CMS up and running with very low up front costs, paying more to develop a web platform’s capabilities as the business grows.  

Theoretically you could still integrate Ucommerce with Xperience, but Ucommerce doesn’t provide Kentico specific support the way it does for Umbraco. This creates a bit of a question begging situation. If you’re paying for Xperience, which comes set up fully featured, are you going to pay again to integrate a top-shelf module that doesn’t include specialised support for the platform? Everything else in Xperience would have to balance out this time and money spent, which is a legitimate costing exercise. 

Learn to grow

Umbraco offers a simple interface and tends to have an easier learning curve for users. For a platform that is billed as a kind of pick-and-mix CMS, this is vital as a business grows and needs to integrate new and/or better tools.

Kentico is the meal kit version—everything you need comes in the box. It might seem more complicated than Umbraco, but once mastered, it delivers reliably. Page layout and design are particularly easy with Kentico, the bread and butter of web content. 

At the end of the day, functional capability of both Umbraco and Kentico remain on par with each other. They both offer good value for money for a mid-size business in different ways. Each organisation has to determine for itself which path works best. 

Interested in whether Umbraco or Kentico might work for you? Let’s talk more about it.
 

Matt Jones

Marketing Director

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