With HubSpot releasing its eagerly awaited CMS Hub, we thought we'd make the next in our "showdown" blog series all about which is the best CMS system to build and manage your website.
And what better CMS system to compare HubSpot to than probably the biggest open source CMS platform in the world - Wordpress.
If you've read our previous comparison blogs:
you'll know that we're a Diamond HubSpot partner and sit firmly within the HubSpot camp. But having worked with clients who have used Wordpress, we know that both platforms have their plus and minus points and this comparison will be an honest, neutral look at HubSpot CMS and Wordpress.
First, let's run through some basic points. If you're already up on your CMS know-how then you can probably skip this part and go straight to the comparison.
A CMS - or Content Management System - is software which lets you create, publish and edit content on your website without the need to mess around with the site's code. A CMS essentially lets you build and manage websites without having to worry about managing the infrastructure behind it all.
Given that websites which perform best are the ones that are regularly updated with fresh content, chances are yes, you do need a CMS.
This is because a CMS makes it simple to regularly update and publish content on your site without the need for developer level coding skills. If you have a website that you plan never to update with new content, then you can probably get away without having a CMS.
Wordpress is one of most well-known, well-used, open-source CMS platforms in the world. Wordpress sites make up roughly 30% of the internet. It's interface allows for the creation of content, sitemaps, SEO and analytics - plus more - through its open-source plugin library.
HubSpot's CMS Hub is a new platform which integrates all of your website tools (web management, landing pages, blogs etc) in one place.
Sitting alongside HubSpot's existing Marketing, Sales and Service Hubs, the new CMS Hub is designed to give marketers and developers access to the tools they need to create and manage websites, create content, optimise for SEO and measure the performance of their site and marketing activity from a single, simple to manage place.
There is a fallacy around the HubSpot CMS that using it can limit the look and feel of your website.
To be fair, many years ago HubSpot's CMS wasn't the best and it did have a tendency to restrict the look and feel of a website. But that's not the case anymore.
Don't believe us? Have a look at HubSpot's CMS showcase to see the kinds of websites you can build.
With HubSpot CMS you have 100% flexibility over the look, feel and design of your site with a tonne of templates to choose from. You can use a developer as much or as little as you want.
Obviously, developers have specialist skills and using a specialist to work on your site means you'll create sites with better experiences and can customise them more, but if you don't need high levels of customisation then you'll be able to create great websites, without relying on developer time and skills.
All in One platform
Maybe the biggest benefit with everything HubSpot does is that it's designed to be managed from a single location - and the CMS is no exception.
Using HubSpot's CMS there is no need for multiple platforms or to use add ons for functionality like blogs, SEO or mobile.
This can save you a load of time because you're not jumping between platforms or training your team on multiple tools.
With HubSpot's CMS all your web pages, landing pages, blogs, SEO, emails and other content is managed, published and edited from the same place.
Ease of use
HubSpot has made a name for itself on the back of being a CMS that is built for marketers first, and with ease of use front of mind.
This is different from other CMS platforms which are typically built with developers in mind first.
HubSpot is incredibly easy to use and learn and, because tasks are completed with pretty consistent actions across the CMS, it takes a lot of the management hassle away for users.
The release of CMS Hub now also gives developers plenty to be happy with. CMS Hub has marketers and developers in mind. It gives each of these groups the tools and flexibility to do what they need to do.
Anyone who has been involved in a website build before knows they can be a hassle. They take ages and end up costing more than you'd planned.
With HubSpot's CMS, website development becomes much quicker and you can typically build a HubSpot website quicker than using other systems.
Everything you need to build a HubSpot website is included within the platform, including security and maintenance so you can be up and running with minimal fuss.
Security & Maintenance
If we're talking websites, then security and maintenance have to be an essential part of the development.
The consequences of being hacked and the loss of confidence that can come from customers if you are is devastating.
Because HubSpot is essentially a SaaS product, it comes with high levels of security and a maintenance team, which works 24/7 in the background to keep your site up to date and secure.
For instance, HubSpot CMS comes, as standard, with in transit encrypted sessions, WAF & DDoS protection, Global CDN and SSL. It also includes behaviour analytics and incident response management to monitor, identify and react to suspicious activity.
This goes along with quarterly security testing using a third party to ensure security measures remain robust.
Also, because you don't need dozens of plugins and third party applications on HubSpot, like you do on some CMSs, there are fewer points of entry for hackers to attack you.
HubSpot takes care of all the "behind the scenes" infrastructure that your website needs to run quickly.
This includes hosting, quick content delivery and a code base that is light.
All this happens in the background and ensures your website remains fast - which is critical for search as well as user experience.
To give you an idea the speed level you can achieve with HubSpot, HubSpot.com (which is obviously built on CMS Hub) has a page speed of 3.9seconds.
The Best in Class website speed is judged as anything within 5.3seconds.
HubSpot has a monthly subscription cost which technically puts it behind WordPress, which is free. But if you take the full cost of ownership into account then this is a plus for HubSpot. You don't need to weigh up the cost of hosting your site, or the costs of ongoing support, security or maintenance, because these are all included.
HubSpot provides users with access to a full support team to help with issues 24/7. This includes a phone line, chat and email which are included in your subscription. You also get access to a developer chat room where issues are flagged and sometimes resolved through the community. Plus. you get access to resources specifically for developers.
While you can be really flexible with HubSpot, and it gives you a lot of tools like blogs, CTAs, landing pages and database tools, you can't build or extend functionality that doesn't already exist in the HubSpot CMS.
While this isn't often a problem, if a client needs a new feature like a customer portal, you can't just build that in HubSpot.
You could still make it, but it would involve additional development work and costs.
One of the main concerns around HubSpot is that once you've built your website on HubSpot, you're locked in to HubSpot and if you ever wanted to move your website off the platform, you'd have to build it from scratch.
Obviously this depends on whether you'd ever want to move your website over to a new platform, but it is something to point out.
Wordpress is an extremely flexible tool which basically lets you build and manage any kind of website you want. You have total control over the look, feel, functionality and design of the site you build on Wordpress.
Unlike HubSpot, Wordpress can be heavily customised in the backend and if you want to build or extend any functionality on your site then you are able to.
It's worth mentioning here that you will need to either be proficient at coding, or pay for a developer to make these customisations, but the option is available.
Plugins and integrations
As we said in the intro to this article, Wordpress makes up roughly 30% of the sites on the internet and, as a massive open source network, there are tonnes of people sharing code and templates for Wordpress that you can use.
There are about 55,000 plugins. This can be a big advantage if you want to add functionality to your site without spending loads of time.
Again, because Wordpress is so widely used and is open-source, it has a huge community of developers who are constantly creating plugins, sharing code and making improvements to how Wordpress works. It is essentially a massive open-source growth system supporting your website.
Unlike HubSpot, because Wordpress isn't the host of your website, if you ever did want to move your hosting to a new provider, then you are able to do that, removing that feeling of being "locked in". Again, this comes down to whether you would want to change your hosting.
Security & maintenance
One of Wordpress's biggest strengths, the fact that it is open-source is also one of its biggest weaknesses, especially when it comes to security and maintenance.
Yes, there are loads of plugins to choose from, but they're not always created equal and you have no idea what the security features are like, or what level of experience the plugin's creator has.
This makes it very hard to assess how vulnerable to hackers you are.
Plus, you have to manage the updates and maintenance of your site (including all of its plugins), on your own.
How can cost be a negative when Wordpress is free?
Like we've said, from the total cost of ownership and lifetime of a website standpoint, Wordpress can get very expensive when you take into account initial development, ongoing support and maintenance, web hosting, buying a domain name, purchasing designs and themes or using e-commerce features.
For instance. Dedicated server hosting using GoDaddy can begin at £329 a month, minimum. Plus the cost of a developer. Plus the cost of themes or templates. Plus ongoing support and maintenance.
These costs can quickly rack up and defy the point of Wordpress being free.
Ease of use
Wordpress is very much a developer first platform so if you don't have any coding skills, it is not easy to use. Additional features like SEO or blogging tools need add-ons to be installed, which all need to be managed separately. If you're not a developer and need to configure your website or set permissions, it is definitely not easy to use.
To be blunt, there is no support for Wordpress sites. Chances are whoever built the site for you is going to be the person you'll go to for support if things go wrong - assuming they offer support services.
If you built the website yourself, you also inherited the role of being your own support network and will have to spend time researching issues yourself.
Ultimately, choosing your CMS is a bit like choosing between Apple and Android.
Everyone has their own taste, preference and viewpoints over which is best and you have to look at the kind of functions you need your website to carry out.
Do you need to have complex backend development going on? Do you have the resource and experience available to manage hundreds of plugins and features?
There will be some websites out there for which the answer to this is yes and they'd likely benefit from using Wordpress.
For most businesses though, you don't have the time or inclination to take on all that management and maintenance and you'd rather your marketing teams got on with marketing and your sales team got on with selling.
If you want a fully functioning, easily maintained, secure and customisable website, then we'd have to give this one to HubSpot.
If you do decide to go down the HubSpot route as your CMS, it could be worth bringing in a HubSpot specialist agency to make sure you get set up, trained and using the tool properly.
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