Making the best possible choice of content management system (CMS) is crucial for the success of your website. But, these days, not only do you have to navigate the many different options – from WordPress to Sitecore to Webflow – you also have the added challenge of deciding whether to go “headless” or not.
Whether to take the less conventional headless approach with your CMS is a decision that could cause some confusion. It could even cause some challenges with your website if you end up making the wrong choice.
In this article, we’ll help you understand exactly what a headless CMS is, when you may need to take that approach, and highlight some key considerations to make before finalising your choice.
What is a Headless CMS?
With a traditional CMS, the back-end and the front-end of the system are directly linked. This is how you use your CMS for both the content management (back-end) and to control how the content is presented to your website visitors (front-end).
In this context, the back-end of the CMS is sometimes referred to as the “body” and the “head” is the front-end. In a headless CMS, that front-end is decoupled from the back-end of the system, hence the term headless. With this approach, you use the back-end as normal for content management and the presentation of content in the front-end is handled completely separately.
This is valuable because it allows you to design your website front-end however you like, without any restrictions. However, it also requires more technical work from your development agency as a trade-off.
With a headless CMS, your content is presented to your audience on your live website by using APIs that take it from the back-end of the CMS. This use of APIs also allows you to publish the same content in a variety of different formats via different channels as well, but more on that later.
Scenarios in Which You Might Need a Headless CMS
It’s important to understand that you should only take a headless approach if it’s the most suitable way to meet a specific set of requirements or objectives.
Some scenarios in which you might need to take a closer look at adopting a headless CMS include:
If a large volume of content is a key component of your marketing strategy.
If you’re going to be producing and publishing a lot of content on your website, you may benefit from a headless CMS. Many people find it easier and more intuitive managing websites in the back-end of a headless CMS.
The decoupling of the front-end also means that your development agency will be the ones responsible for ensuring your audience is presented with dynamic, engaging content.
If you expect to have high volumes of traffic and need to maintain performance.
If the size of your website’s audience will put a heavy demand on your CMS’s performance, a headless system could be a worthwhile investment. Using APIs, and leveraging other intelligent techniques, the headless approach often delivers faster loading times, reduces the workload on your servers, and offers greater scalability.
If you have a multi-channel marketing strategy, or need to publish content across multiple digital touch-points.
The headless approach allows you to take one piece of content, upload it into the back-end, and seamlessly publish it across several channels, including website, mobile app, social media, email, and even internet-of-things (IoT) devices.
This can help you maximise consistency, while providing your users in each channel an experience optimised for their preferred context.
If you’re prioritising personalisation.
As personalisation is becoming much more important in modern marketing, headless CMSs are becoming more popular in enabling those tactics.
If you need to create personalised experiences for your website visitors based on their demographic data, past behaviour, preferences, and so on, a headless CMS may be the right option. This is a useful approach for delivering tailored content to individual visitors, improving your engagement and increasing conversions.
If you have a multi-lingual or multi-regional website.
Delivering the same content to visitors in different languages, across different locations, can also be made easier by using a headless CMS. Your localisation process can be streamlined by managing the content for all users just once in the back-end, then delivering it seamlessly in its different forms based on location or other conditions.
Key Considerations and Potential Pitfalls
While a headless CMS can be a great choice to deliver on the requirements discussed here, it’s still not a straightforward decision in these scenarios.
Firstly, it’s important to note that a traditional CMS like WordPress can still help you achieve all the things listed above, especially with the support of an experienced, talented agency. Secondly, there are some downsides to the headless approach that need to be considered while you’re evaluating your options.
Security is an issue that needs careful consideration when looking into the headless approach. The headless architecture, and use of APIs, create more security vulnerabilities than you’d have with a traditional CMS.
It’s also common for a headless CMS to require more hands-on management in key areas such as hosting and compliance, as well as more thorough and frequent testing.
When you ask your development agency to build, manage, and maintain your website using a headless CMS, you’re asking them for more complex work than they’d be facing with a traditional system. This complexity is something you need to be aware of, both in your selection of an agency capable of delivering your requirements, and in the additional workload you’re asking them to complete for you.
Following on from the previous point, more complex development work often results in a longer time-to-market for your website.
Developing a website using a headless CMS may require more time and resources from your agency to deliver the work for you. If you need to get your site up and running quickly, or if you may require future development work to be delivered quickly, a regular CMS may be a safer bet.
Publishing content with a headless CMS may be easy, but if something goes wrong, or you need something changed, you’re unlikely to be able to do it yourself. A headless CMS requires more technical skills and development experience to maintain than a traditional CMS, even for small tasks. If you don’t have these skills in your team, you’ll be more reliant on your agency partner than you would be with a normal CMS.
Total Cost of Ownership
All the points listed here will add up to a higher total cost of ownership (TCO). When accounting for the higher volume and greater complexity of work you’ll require from your agency, you’re likely to spend a lot more of your budget on a headless CMS.
Unless you have specific complex requirements that demand the use of a headless CMS, it’s usually the more cost-efficient option to go with the more traditional approach.
With all that said, it’s also important to consider whether a headless CMS is even necessary based on your content strategy.
Unless you have an intricate, wide-ranging content strategy that spans various channels and platforms, it might not be worth adopting a headless CMS at all.
Most of the requirements you have can likely be delivered by working with a reliable agency partner using a sophisticated, flexible CMS like WordPress.
It’s also important to note that WordPress can be used in a headless context as well. This offers you a balance between a familiar, easy-to-use system and a more dynamic UX for your visitors in the front-end.
The Benefits of a Headless CMS
If you do decide to take a headless approach, your CMS can deliver a wealth of benefits and strategic advantages. These include:
The headless architecture will enable you to build out your digital presence rapidly, on a large scale, across multiple channels. This scalability will be crucial for your website as your business grows and your requirements evolve.
Both the back-end of your headless CMS and the front-end presentation of your content are entirely customisable, tailored to your specific requirements.
Headless CMSs provide a great deal of flexibility in terms of your selection of technology, content creation, and implementation of a multi-channel market strategy.
If you work with a skilled agency partner who can set up and manage your system for you, publishing and editing content with a headless CMS becomes quick, easy, and efficient.
Delivering your content seamlessly – and consistently – across a wide range of channels and digital touch-points creates a far greater UX for your target audience.
The headless architecture removes the need to render pages on your server. This creates the faster loading times and improved performance discussed previously, which also contributes to a better experience for your visitors.
As mentioned earlier, the headless approach allows you to create a truly unique UX. In an increasingly crowded, noisy online landscape, this can help you differentiate your website and stand above your competitors.
A headless CMS allows you to easily change or upgrade the technology you use for your front-end without having any impact on your back-end. This will help you become more agile and adapt quickly as new technology trends emerge in future.
Making the Right Decision for Your Unique Requirements
Ultimately, you should base your decision here on the specific requirements you have for your website and the circumstances you find yourself in.
While a headless CMS does offer a range of innovative capabilities, the additional costs and resources you’ll need to invest may not be worthwhile. For example, the traditional use of WordPress can provide you with most of the benefits discussed earlier.
Carefully consider your objectives, your strategy, and the resources you have available. Use those to weigh up all the pros and cons listed in this article in relation to your own website project.
The key thing is to clearly understand exactly what you need from your CMS, and use that to select the option that aligns best with your requirements.
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- Brainstorming and ideation
- Assistance in research and information-gathering
- Writing copy
- Writing code
- Image and video creation
- Data analysis
- Automating manual processes.
- GPT-4 was released as an upgrade to Chat GPT. GPT-4 can understand images, process 25,000 words in one go, earn a top 10% score on complex exams, and even demonstrate some advanced reasoning capabilities.
- Adobe released Firefly, which is a programme with a range of new generative AI features. It can create outstanding new content using simple language, with almost-unlimited creative options like turning 3D compositions into photorealistic images and automating advanced video editing processes.
- GitHub launched CoPilotX, which can supposedly boost coding speed by up to 55%. CoPilotX has similar features to Chat GPT, but will be used by software engineers and developers to boost productivity and time-to-market.
- And, just last week, Stability AI released its Stable Diffusion XL model, offering photorealism through an intricate editing interface. It’s reportedly built with around 2.3 billion parameters.
- Auto-updates – When your platform’s software is automatically updated, changes in the code can cause new security weaknesses to arise.
- Plugins – Using WordPress plugins from untrustworthy sources, or neglecting to update and maintain your plugins properly, can also cause security issues.
- Review the results and analysis of any previous tests (if there are any)
- Define the scope of the testing, including which tests will be performed
- Gather all necessary data and information on the system to conduct the testing
- Determine the criteria of success or failure for the tests.
- Use automated tools to scan for vulnerabilities and identify weaknesses
- Attempt to exploit the identified weaknesses
- Repeat the tests with different types of user roles and permissions
- Measure the outcomes against criteria for success or failure
- Create a report on the outcomes and results of the tests.
- Review the reports and analyse the results
- Remediate and resolve the vulnerabilities that were able to be exploited
- Re-test the vulnerabilities to ensure remediation was successful.
- In-depth research and careful planning
- Visual exploration and mood boards
- User experience (UX) design
- User interface (UI) design.
- 1,920px – For most external computer monitor sizes
- 1,366px – For most laptop screen sizes
- 992px – For most Notebook and iPad devices
- 768px – For most other tablet devices
- 375px – For most smartphones.
25 April, 2023
The Changing Roles of Web Design and Development in the Age of AI
In the first few months of 2023, generative AI has burst on to the scene and begun to change our relationship with technology forever. Already, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that people in a wide range of jobs will have to adapt quickly or risk being replaced. In this article, we explore the impact AI is having on the web design and development industry, as well as how businesses, and people, should approach working with this innovative technology.
AI tools are nothing new. We’ve all been using them for years, from chatbots to predictive text to voice-controlled assistants like Siri and Alexa. But the recent mainstream adoption of AI tools such as Chat GPT, and the rapid advancement of the technology itself, has caused huge disruption across a number of industries.
Many assumed that people like marketers, software developers, and UX and UI designers would be some of the last ones at risk of having their jobs taken by AI, due to their need for creative skill and use of human emotion. Ironically, these roles have been some of the first to come “under threat” over the past few months.
AI’s speed and efficiency is already forcing us to ask questions about the future of the web design and development industry. With that in mind, one question in particular has dominated discussion online so far this year:
Are our jobs in danger of being taken by AI?
By now, you’re almost certainly aware that AI offers incredible value by accelerating workflows and augmenting skills. Some of the most beneficial use cases lie in:
AI can also devise entire business and marketing strategies, solve complex problems, and even create its own AI-powered applications from scratch. Perhaps most importantly, it can do all these tasks in a matter of seconds, when most of them would take a human several hours, days or even months.
The Latest News and Tools (at the Time of Writing)
Over the past few months, there are more and more AI-powered tools being released on an almost daily basis.
The number of AI tools that have been released recently is staggering, and the capabilities of some of them is truly mind-blowing. Just last month, in March 2023:
It’s both exciting and terrifying to think these highly intelligent tools are just the tip of the AI iceberg. When you consider how common it’s now become to use AI to develop even more advanced AI, it seems that the rate of evolution will only continue to increase exponentially from here.
How is AI Transforming Design and Development?
While these AI tools are extremely impressive, it’s not as straightforward as simply plugging them in and sitting back while they literally do your work for you. It’s possible we may get there one day, but right now we believe we’re a long way off.
These tools are highly sophisticated and intuitive, and their adoption is probably going to change the way we all work forever. However, this should be seen as technology that will augment and enhance people’s ability to do their jobs, or create new jobs entirely, rather than “steal” them away from us.
The current use cases for AI are mostly just ways for you to do your work, much faster and more effectively. This could either be done by automating processes to save time, or by supplementing your existing skill-set with new capabilities with the help of AI. For example, if you wanted to convert your code from one language into multiple languages, you would be able to do this with the help of Chat GPT.
When it comes to user experience (UX) design, one crucial thing AI will always be missing is human empathy, emotion, and understanding. A company looking to create a high-performance website that supports their strategic business goals and engages their target audience will fail if they don’t take into account human understanding and collaboration between them and their web development agency.
Outlining the What and the How is important, but the Why is arguably what drives great UX and UI.
“Design is not just a visual experience, it’s an emotional one. It should make people feel something.”Nathan Shedroff, Author and Professor of Design Strategy
UX design is a nuanced, collaborative process, focusing on the specific requirements of the business and the specific needs of the target audience. You can save a lot of time using AI to produce a high volume of early conceptual designs or accelerate your copywriting process. But without the human element, none of these things will be authentic or anywhere near the required standard.
Potential Concerns and Risks with AI
Of course, we’ve not even mentioned the rising concerns and risks associated with AI yet. Just last month, over 1,000 technology leaders and influencers signed a petition to halt the development of generative AI until more governance can be introduced to ensure its safety.
There are still some serious grey areas regarding the use of this technology in business as well, from regulations and legal implications to the copyright of creative work like logos and images. These are providing opportunities for a wide range of new forms of cyber crime, phishing, and “deep-fake” imitations which could spiral out of control if left unchecked.
There are also plenty of moral issues surrounding AI that we must consider. For example, what implications will there be for our society if global businesses do begin replacing humans with AI on a large scale?
A key concern is that Generative AI is also having a significant impact on the environment, which is a conversation most people seem to be avoiding for the time being. With the global fight to reduce carbon emissions intensifying, and more businesses placing sustainability at the core of their values, there needs to be some action taken to balance those priorities with the efficiency and speed enabled by AI.
The SoBold Perspective
From our perspective, as a leading design and development agency, we believe that people will always want and need to work with other people. Personable relationships, real-life experience, and critical thinking are all essential parts of our work. In many cases, that’s also what many of our clients value most about our services.
Granted, we’re always looking for innovative new ways to push the boundaries, and AI is an incredible tool that will help us do that. But it won’t replace crucial human characteristics like empathy, emotion, and subjective opinions.
It will, however, help us spend less time on low-value tasks, and more time to focus on building stronger relationships and gaining a deeper understanding of our clients’ needs. That will only result in improving the work we deliver, which is something we’re always striving to achieve.
The Verdict on AI (for Now)
This year will probably be looked back on as a turning point in history when AI was introduced to the world. But this technology won’t replace too many jobs just yet. Instead, it will enhance our ability to work smarter, faster, and more efficiently.
For now, the only people at risk of losing their jobs to AI are those who fail – or refuse – to adapt to this new way of working and embrace the change. Similarly, if you’re using AI because you’re being lazy or complacent, that will also cause problems. You should never use work produced by a generative AI tool without checking its quality and accuracy, and you’ll always need to add a human touch before considering it finished.
On the other hand, if you’re forward-thinking and agile, embracing AI will make you exponentially better at your job. Here at SoBold, we’re personally most excited by how AI has the potential to help us vastly improve the service we deliver for our clients.
Of course, this technology is evolving so fast that it’s difficult to predict where we’ll stand a year from now. We’ll be discussing this, and lots of other important trends, in our new monthly newsletter.
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1 November, 2022
SoBold announce Cyber Essentials certification
SoBold announce their Cyber Essentials certification for the third consecutive year which demononstrates their commitment to delivering secure technical solutions to their new and existing clients.
Cyber Essentials is scheme which helps guard your organisation against a range of common cyber threats. SoBold’s resilience across a range of internet facing devices was tested and approved, ensuring there were not any major critical vulnerabilities discovered
SoBold Technical Director, Sam Phillips said:
With an ever growing cyber threat, Cyber Essentials certification is becoming more and more important to maintain. Protecting both our clients data and websites is of the upmost importance and successfully passing the more thorough Cyber Essentials guidelines new for 2022 shows our commitment to this.
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14 July, 2023
A Guide to Penetration Testing: Strengthen Your Website Security and Minimise Risk
Penetration testing, often abbreviated as pen testing, is an essential process to ensure you maintain a safe and secure website. But what exactly does pen testing involve, and how can you rest assured your agency partner is covering all potential vulnerabilities for you?
This article will provide a detailed guide to penetration testing, helping you minimise your security risks and ensure your website is fully protected.
In a recent series of articles published in our resource library, we provided an in-depth explanation of the end-to-end process of building a high-performance, enterprise-grade website. (If you’d like to read that series first before learning about pen testing, you can start here).
After you’ve worked with your agency partner to successfully build your website, you’ll also need to ensure your site is protected from cyber security threats. With that in mind, you should understand the important role that pen testing plays in effective website security and maintenance.
What is Penetration Testing?
Penetration testing is a form of website testing that’s used to identify security vulnerabilities When conducting pen testing on your site, your agency will simulate a range of cyber attacks that could be used by cyber criminals or malicious software (malware).
The purpose of this is to identify security weaknesses within your site and take action to prevent them from being exploited in the real world. This approach goes beyond basic tests, as it doesn’t just list the vulnerabilities, it examines how they could be exploited and helps to prevent that from happening.
Why is it Crucial for an Agency to Conduct Penetration Testing?
Website security is critical in today’s digital business landscape. Cyber security threats have become highly intelligent and sophisticated, now capable of penetrating even the strongest security networks.
The outcomes of a cyber attack on your website could be catastrophic, either through sensitive data being stolen, lengthy losses of business continuity, or even reputational damage.
Remember, your site’s security isn’t just vital to you as a business, it’s also something your clients need assurance with when they agree to work with you. You should be taking as many proactive steps as possible to ensure your security measures are rigorous enough to match high levels of risk.
Covering All Bases for Robust Security (in WordPress)
It’s useful to be conscious of the common security weaknesses and pitfalls cyber criminals typically aim to take advantage of.
Security vulnerabilities can be created when your website is running on outdated versions of your platform, or if something hasn’t been configured or integrated properly. Other common pitfalls include weak authentication measures and insufficient protection from the perspective of your users.
With platforms like WordPress, there are some areas in which less experienced agencies could allow security vulnerabilities to creep in as well. For instance:
This is one of many reasons why it’s important to work with an experienced agency partner who has proven platform-specific knowledge and expertise. Your agency should know your CMS of choice inside out, and should therefore be well aware of all the most common security pitfalls and targets for cyber attacks.
What Does Effective Penetration Testing Involve?
To conduct pen testing, your agency’s security experts will run through a process that attempts to penetrate your site’s security measures.
This is usually done in stages, as follows:
1 – Planning and Preparation
2 – Running the Tests
3 – Post-Testing
The Benefits of Thorough Penetration Testing
Working with an agency partner who can support you with ongoing pen testing is a necessary step towards gaining enterprise-grade security for your website.
Technology changes so quickly today. Your platform receives updates regularly, your site is always growing, and cyber criminals are constantly finding new ways to breach your defences and gain access to your data. Penetration testing allows you to keep the pace with new emerging vulnerabilities.
Conducting regular pen testing can also help improve client relationships and create competitive advantages as well. In certain industries, a demonstrable commitment to security will be greatly appreciated by your target audience. This can help to differentiate you from the competition and provide the trust required to attract more prospective clients to work with you.
Website Security is a Never-Ending Battle
While every business with a website faces tremendous security risks today, this is a proven process that can help to minimise that risk and give you the confidence you need in your site’s security.
Any agency partner you work with should have the knowledge and expertise to understand the importance of pen testing, and should insist on making this an integral, ongoing part of your site’s maintenance.
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17 May, 2023
Preparing Your Website for Development after the Design Phase
The end-to-end process of web design is made up of a number of different phases that should all inform and complement each other.
When working with a web design and development agency, they should use their expertise and experience to guide you through this process, which consists of:
Once you’ve completed each of those phases and you have a design that you’re proud of, your agency partner will be tasked with preparing your website for development.
This article will explain the process of preparing a website for development, helping you understand what’s involved, what to expect, and how to approach it.
Designing Your Website Across Different Break-Points
In a recent article, we explained how the purpose of your UX is to help your visitors complete a task or process on your website as easily as possible, ultimately leading them to follow a call-to-action.
Your UX is brought to life by your UI, which includes all the visual and interactive elements of your website, from colour and font to buttons and scrolling.
Towards the end of the UI design phase, the next step will be to roll out your designs across a number of break-points.
Break-points are the screen sizes of devices that your design will fit within. This allows your website to be designed as responsive and optimised for use across a wide range of different devices and channels.
This is important because certain aspects of your site may not translate down perfectly across different screen sizes.
Here at SoBold, we design sites across the following break-points, but this may vary from agency to agency:
If you want your website to be designed as mobile-first, it’s important to raise it at the beginning of the project so your agency can create your wireframes in that context. However, you should only ever make that decision based on real data regarding your target audience’s preferences.
In this case, your agency should work with you to conduct some additional research and determine the best screen size for your particular audience. This will ensure the UX designers work with the right starting point for your high-fidelity wireframes.
A Thorough Hand-Over from Design to Development
This phase of a website project involves a process that takes a lot of careful work and close collaboration between the different teams within an agency.
Here at SoBold, we make a point to ensure the design team talks the development team through all the work they’ve done on your mood boards, UX design, and UI design in detail. This includes explaining the decision making process behind everything they’ve designed.
While a lot of agencies will just hand the designs to the developers and ask them to start building, we believe this is something that should be treated as more of a team effort. Doing so as a core part of our process has proven to add tremendous value to the work our clients have received in recent years.
It’s beneficial to the overall project for the developers to fully understand why the decisions have been made about the designs. It’s also important that they’re given a detailed run through of what they’re building within the context of the whole site.
For example, there may be a fairly complex block which is built early on in the development process. If the developers are made aware that slight variations of this same block will be used several times throughout the site, they can save valuable time and work more efficiently by repurposing the first block when it’s first built.
This hand-over is crucial in ensuring the development process runs smoothly, providing you with a high-performance website that meets your expectations, delivered on time and within budget.
A Well Designed Website Ready to Be Built
After the hand-over is complete, your agency will be able to export all your design assets and the developers will begin building your website.
While web design may seem straightforward when explained like this, in reality it’s a complex process that requires a great deal of specialist skills and expertise. That’s why it’s so important to have the support of an agency partner you can trust and rely on to guide you.
Working with a talented agency will ensure you’re able to create a unique design that will resonate with your target audience and help you achieve your strategic business goals through your new website.
Keep an eye out for our upcoming blog series where we’ll walk you step-by-step through the web development process, making it far more approachable and easy to manage for you.
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5 January, 2023
WordPress vs Sitecore – Comparing Both Content Management Systems
Large businesses and enterprises in need of a content management system (CMS) today are spoilt for choice, because there are plenty of excellent platforms available. From WordPress to Sitecore to Drupal, the technology currently on offer is highly intelligent and intuitive.
But so much choice can make the task of finding the right CMS for your own specific business complicated and time-consuming.
Selecting a CMS is an important decision that requires a lot of research, followed by careful evaluation of all the various options. Of course, those processes can be very time-consuming. When you’re already extremely busy juggling dozens of other priorities, it’s challenging to give this the attention and effort it deserves.
To solve that challenge, we’ve done the bulk of the hard work for you. In a new series of articles, we’ll provide you with direct, objective comparisons between some of the leading options for CMSs, helping you relieve the headache of researching and evaluating them yourself.
In the first article of this series, we’ll be looking at the comparison between Sitecore and WordPress.
How Does the Security Compare for Both Platforms?
As we face ever-increasing concerns with cyber security, data protection, and various other digital challenges, finding a platform with robust security should be a top priority.
Sitecore has a reputation of being the leading CMS for large businesses, guaranteeing an enterprise-grade experience that includes a high level of security.
Sitecore’s security is also strengthened by the vast range of in-built features within the platform, which we’ll discuss in more detail later. There’s no need to purchase more third-party software or plug-ins to enhance its functionality, which means you won’t be creating any additional vulnerabilities or risks. The platform also receives frequent security updates which bolster your protection even further.
If security is a concern for your business, Sitecore should be high on your list of potential candidates for a CMS.
For a long time, many people believed the misconception that WordPress isn’t secure enough for large businesses. However, industry leaders such as global investment firm Blackstone, the NHS in England, global research and advisory leader Forrester, and multinational bank Standard Chartered now use WordPress for their CMS. This goes a long way to proving that wrong.
In fact, WordPress is already a secure, stable platform out-of-the-box. So, where did this myth come from?
Well, vulnerabilities can arise in certain scenarios. Firstly, strong security with any technology is dependent on a well-managed hosting environment. If you have WordPress hosted in a secure environment from an experienced provider, with proactive security measures in place, your risk will be extremely low.
Secondly, plugins are something to be cautious of when it comes to security, both in terms of where they come from and keeping them properly maintained. Security threats will be minimised if you only use plugins from trusted sources. You should also ensure you always keep them tested and updated, ideally working alongside security-specific plugins like WordFence.
We appreciate this may sound like a lot of work. That’s why all the examples of the businesses succeeding with WordPress have the support of an agency partner who ensures all these things are taken care of during the development stage. It’s worth noting, though, that this will also be the case when adopting any CMS in a business setting.
Which Platform is More Scalable?
One of the most important aspects of a CMS is its scalability. A CMS is a long-term investment, and this is one of the most influential factors in determining whether that investment will be successful or not.
You’ll need to ensure your site can evolve as your business grows and your needs change over time. This will require an infrastructure that can quickly and easily scale with more pages, additional functionality, and perhaps even more sites, without the burden of hefty costs for more development work.
How Scalable is Sitecore?
Sitecore is designed specifically for large businesses, so its scalability is up there with the very best. Sitecore is a robust platform that allows your digital presence to grow seamlessly as your business grows, even if you need to build multiple sites to serve different groups of users in different languages.
How Scalable is WordPress?
WordPress is another highly scalable platform. Despite some still mistakenly believing that WordPress is suited to smaller businesses, you can use the CMS to build sophisticated, industry-leading sites. Like Sitecore, WordPress is agile and scalable enough to grow alongside your business and adapt to your changing requirements.
How Capable are these Content Management Systems?
The main purpose of a CMS is to provide a software-based infrastructure upon which you can build and manage websites and applications. While most CMSs are similar on the surface, with the same fundamental functionality, they each have unique features and capabilities that differentiate them
For example, one critical indication of quality for a CMS is how easy it is to use. Once you’ve adopted a platform, you and your colleagues will need to feel immediately comfortable using it on a daily basis. If a CMS can’t provide good usability, it’s probably one you should avoid.
Sitecore as a Content Management System
Sitecore is actually considered a fully managed ‘digital experience platform’ that comes with more capabilities than the average CMS.
Most of its best features are readily available as soon as you begin using Sitecore. That allows you to get a high quality site live very quickly without additional work within the platform.
However, Sitecore typically provides quite hierarchical, complex workflows that might be frustrating for small or agile teams. This can also create longer development cycles than usual, giving you a slower time-to-market than more intuitive systems like WordPress.
WordPress as a Content Management System
WordPress is easily the most popular CMS in the world right now, with around 45% of all websites built on the platform. One of the main reasons for that is its ease-of-use, with simple and efficient content management
This usability allows you to get up-to-speed quickly and share responsibilities across several members of your team, even if they have no previous content management experience.
WordPress also makes it convenient to edit content on a page-by-page basis, saving you valuable time, with its block-based design an ideal method for customisation and site management.
How Much Personalisation do they Provide?
The ability to customise and tailor your site’s content to your target audiences is more important today than ever before, with so much of modern business now taking place online. Therefore, this is another important point to consider when choosing between your various CMS options.
Personalisation in Sitecore
When compared with other platforms, Sitecore’s personalisation is excellent. Sitecore will provide you with a great deal of control over the structure and design of your pages, allowing you to tailor your user experience and drive greater performance for your site.
This is particularly useful for larger businesses with high volumes of potential site visitors, delivering competitive differentiation and driving increased conversion rates.
Personalisation in WordPress
WordPress is also highly customisable. You can use its flexibility to get creative with your design, and build bespoke features and functionality to better engage with your audience.
There’s not much to separate Sitecore and WordPress in this area. The gap in personalisation becomes even smaller if you find an experienced agency with WordPress-specific expertise to help develop your site and improve your customer experience.
Integrating with Other Systems
Before your business invests in any digital platform, it’s important to ensure that technology can integrate easily with your existing software. Whether it’s your customer relationship management (CRM) or any other marketing systems, any digital tools you currently have should ideally be compatible with your new CMS.
How Sitecore Integrates with Other Systems
Sitecore integrates well with other systems. It allows you to achieve out-of-the-box integration with most of the leading CRM software, and plenty of other digital tools and platforms.
How WordPress Integrates with Other Systems
WordPress tends to be the easiest platform to integrate with your existing systems, because most brands and other SaaS products have already made themselves compatible.
This means you can deploy WordPress with minimal disruption, regardless of whether you’re building a new site from scratch or migrating your current site from a different CMS.
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
Of course, you’ll also want to ensure you’re getting a solution that will deliver good value for money. With a CMS, the total cost of ownership (TCO) can vary greatly from one platform to another, due to factors like licensing fees and update-driven maintenance.
Sitecore Initial Investment and Ongoing Costs
Sitecore is an expensive option, even if you have a large budget to work with. You’ll be required to purchase licences for the platform with an ongoing renewal fee each year. These licenses come in tiers, so if you want to access the full range of benefits from Sitecore you’ll have to opt for the most expensive offering.
On top of that, you’ll also need to account for development costs with an agency, hosting costs, maintenance and support fees, and various other expenses that give Sitecore a very hefty total cost of ownership (TCO).
Furthermore, Sitecore requires ongoing management and maintenance to handle regular large-scale updates to the platform. When updates occur, new versions of the software come with a big price tag and may cause you to pay for additional development work to get your site up-to-speed.
However, this could be a worthwhile investment if Sitecore’s features and capabilities are necessary for your specific requirements. If you’re looking for a quality, trustworthy enterprise-grade platform, Sitecore can justify the cost.
WordPress TCO and Value
Conversely, WordPress is a much more cost-effective solution with a drastically lower TCO. Licenses for WordPress come at no cost and the software is entirely open-source. That means your implementation costs would be limited to just hosting, agency fees, and post-deployment support.
If you decide to use any plugins or extensions of the platform, these will be licensed and paid for separately. However, businesses rarely need to bolt on many new tools or capabilities because WordPress is such a feature-rich platform already.
When WordPress is updated, unlike Sitecore, managing and testing your site can be done in just a few hours at a much lower cost.
A Word on Agency Partners
One thing both Sitecore and WordPress have in common is the small selection of platform-specific agencies who can build high performance sites for large businesses using this technology.
A CMS becomes far easier to use, and easier to drive strong return on investment (ROI), if you have a specialist partner supporting you.
Finding an agency with the necessary experience and expertise to help you leverage these platforms to their full potential should be another important influence on your choice. From integration, to development, to maintenance, all the benefits and advantages of the platforms will require an agency to help you fully unlock them.
How to Make Your Decision
So, with all that information, how can you decide between the two?
Both of these platforms are excellent options that would serve most businesses extremely well. After all, there’s plenty of good reasons why some of the biggest companies in the world use Sitecore and WordPress.
Ultimately, when looking for a CMS that’s the right fit for your specific business, you should make a detailed assessment of your strategic objectives, unique requirements, budget, users, and other important factors. Use that to determine which solution is most capable of meeting those needs.
If you still need more help working through this process, read our comprehensive guide to understanding and evaluating the enterprise options for large businesses here.