Umbraco vs Wordpress - Which one should you pick?

We often encounter this debate every other day and we thought it was about time we wrote an article comparing the two. Which one should you pick? Wordpress or Umbraco?

10 Mar 2017
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Chris Bainbridge

This article will cover each platform, the background, the strengths and areas of consideration for each platform.


WordPress is a free, open-source blogging system which is very well supported in terms of volume of developers all over the world. It’s very easy to create a simple site and install it for free, as you could have the option of a one-click install (dependant on hosting environment). 

There are many designed themes which are free and some are available for a relatively little cost from vendors such as ThemeForest. These themes come with a UI that makes them easy to manage from the CMS itself and can also be built in a responsive framework, so they will be mobile ready. Similar to templates, there is almost a limitless number of 3rd party plugins to drop into the site, which can be downloaded and installed onto your site.

This is great as you can get something up and running, deployed, and live in a very short timeframe. This can also be done at a relatively little cost, so not much in terms of bad debt can be built up if you decide in the longer term to move to another platform.

Things to consider is that coupled with the volume of developers, trying to find a ‘good’ developer/team/agency can be harder than you imagine. There is so much choice in terms of quantity, feel free to search on UpWork. It’s hard to make a selection you can be sure can understand the project, therefore cost it appropriately and deliver on time. 

Other issues are if you are using somebody else's template or plugins to get the project live with an aggressive timeline, there is a risk below the surface it’s a ‘ticking bomb’. It can be common that the templates are not built with best practice in mind. A useful guide is to read how fast paced the industry is by our other article ‘FrontEnd North’. 

You can do as much due diligence to try and mitigate the risks, but sometimes you just don’t know until you start using it.

Even I have been burnt a few times in the past.

Then we also have to consider Wordpress is built in the coding language of PHP, for some this is a deal breaker due to security. While I agree, if you take other languages platforms/architectures such as Java or .NET, then PHP would come up short. 

Report from cloud security firm Veracode

PHP is known to have faced a lot of bugs in the past that has lead to many (10's of thousands if not millions) of sites being hacked/compromised/left vulnerable to attack in the past. There is a counter argument, a lot of these areas/flaws can be mitigated by doing a round of best practice configuration, keeping the platform/environment updated and coding to best practice.

To be fair, as Wordpress is the most widely used CMS on the market, circa 75 million sites, this will attract a large number of hackers and volume of news articles.


Umbraco is the leading open source ASP.NET CMS. It’s free to use if you do a traditional download and install. They have also recently widened the offering by serving up a monthly subscription based Umbraco Cloud, The open source CMS can also be in the cloud, with automated upgrades, unlimited hosting and potentially smoother deployments. It’s an interesting step that they moved into this area. This really allows a truly fast way to get a website deployed and live in a very short timeframe.

Umbraco tries to cater for 3 key audiences from the ground-up; Developers, Designers and CMS users. They have executed this very well.  This does allow for the creation and maintenance of the website with relative ease for all these audience groups. 

You may be wondering the what the type of businesses are that use Umbraco? Well this will range from large businesses such as Heinz and Microsoft to small business enterprises. Providing the best illustration to Umbraco's flexibility, not only in use but its perceived value.

The costs involved can be smaller than you think which allows smaller companies to follow the larger companies footsteps. 

A real strength of Umbraco is the User Interface(UI). I can tell a large amount of time and effort has been spent in the design to make users as productive as possible. This means it's relatively quick to respond, easy on the eye and intuitive. CMS often take the easy way out in trying to show as much information on a page as possible, but Umbraco have tackled this problem with a ‘less is more’ approach. In having clean screens, free from clutter and making users focus on the area that should be most important to them. I often facilitate CMS training sessions and teaching users the mechanics of Umbraco is definitely easier compared with other platforms available on the market.

The thing to consider is you haven’t got a wide pool of developers or agencies in comparison to Wordpress. So you will be more limited in terms of quantity if you wanted to change agency or switch to use different developers. 

To put this into context, there are 220,000 worldwide active developers who publish within the Umbraco community, while a large amount, this is not on the same scale with Wordpress. But remember, you could be looking for quality over quantity. 

In addition, Umbraco TV is a paid for service by Umbraco themselves and offers easy to follow online training videos and written documentation. The resources you get are great and will give you the fundamental knowledge to understanding building Umbraco websites, but just beware of the costs involved.

Wrap up: Which is better? 

Let’s go back to the opening statement ‘Which one should I pick? Wordpress or Umbraco’.

I may sound like a politician in not giving you a direct answer to the question above, but it isn’t a simple answer to state one is better than the other, as both fulfil a place in the market Web CMS marketplace and both do offer very adequate solutions. You need more information to make a decision.

The questions I often try to facilitate and get you to answer are: 

  • What are you trying to achieve? 
  • What are the tangible objectives?
  • What are the project user/technical requirements? 

A great resource is to read our Provide a journey that your customers want to finish which explains how a data led approach can support you to create winning customer experiences. 

We will tend to then dig deeper, to keep challenging what is driving any requirements and understand why. 

  • Why are you only looking at Wordpress and Umbraco?
  • What reasons do you want the site in .NET or PHP?  

A good place to start is to read our other articles in Choosing the right CMS for my business and Do I need a CMS. Going through this process will help shape which platform would be a suitable fit for the business.