nina

Nina Anderson is one of three Digital Strategist MVPs in the UK

As a web development agency, one of the most common questions we get asked is, ‘Which system would you recommend we use to manage our content?’ As specialists in Sitecore and Umbraco website development we have a deep understanding of which will be better for our clients. How do the two match up? Let’s look at Umbraco vs Sitecore and pinpoint the best CMS for your business.

Umbraco: The key benefits

It’s free! However, you have to pay for hosting and Umbraco support. Expect to pay around €400 a month, for which you get access to the open source developer environment, can find add-ons like forms, and can raise support tickets.

It’s lightweight: Umbraco is purely a content management system, with no complex features. This means you can get up and running nice and quickly.

Less to manage: the Umbraco CMS will give you a good-looking ‘brochure’ website that doesn’t take a lot of manpower to look after. Just the job if you don’t have lots of resources to put to web content management.

It’s on the cloud: so no waiting – or paying – for the next software release before you can get the latest updates.

It’s secure: it’s a Microsoft product so has the same level of security. We always advise clients to pay attention to passwords when setting it up however – Umbraco123 might be a little easy to hack!

What are the downsides of Umbraco?
Less clout: if you’re looking for an ecommerce website or lots of inbuilt digital functionality and analytics, then Umbraco won’t be the best option for you.

Cloud leader: this is obviously a huge benefit but the cloud model can take a bit of getting used to. It can seem as though you have less control than a privately hosted solution but we can help you through deciding which model will work best for you.

Who is Umbraco for?

Umbraco is a great open source CMS for your business if you’re not fussed about the bells and whistles; you just want an attractive website that doesn’t take lots of time to keep updated. It is often suited to the smaller to medium sized business. However, if you’re looking for Umbraco examples at enterprise level, see how Carlsberg use it for a string of websites in different regions.

Sitecore: What are the key benefits?


More than just a CMS
: there are a lot of useful components baked in, for example tools to help you automate your marketing processes. If someone signs up to attend a workshop you’re running, you can send them a series of messages before and after the event.

Personalisation: because it’s so component based, Sitecore allows you to make rules based on behaviour. So as a user clicks on content they’ve been sent or travels round your website, you can display information that will be relevant to them.

So, to give you an example of Sitecore in action, Journey Latin America use it to categorise their customers, showing honeymoon packages to people who search for a one-bed luxury property, and something quite different to people looking for family-friendly holidays.

Integration: it plays nicely with software such as Mailchimp, Linkedin, Klout and more. You can also look around Sitecore Marketplace and find dozens of add-ons like SharePoint, Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce CRM technology.

Flexibility: you’re given a framework and from this you can pick and choose which components you want to include. As a Sitecore Gold Partner we’re adept at developing templates to give you and your editors a clear layout to work to – no chance of accidentally clicking on something and breaking it!

Ease of use: although it is more complex than Umbraco, it’s not overly technical and will be relatively straightforward to get to grips with.

Fully scalable: it grows with your business, with no need to redesign if you develop new products or services. Sitecore is a heavyweight in the CMS world and can scale up with some careful planning. We see a lot of clients wanting to consolidate and bring multiple websites or siloes (like ecommerce) into a platform, Sitecore fits the bill!

Microsoft friendly: Sitecore are a little more behind the curve on the cloud Software as a Service (SaaS) than Umbraco but they are firmly embedded in the Microsoft technology stack and compatible with the product roadmaps.

Analytics: they’re pretty powerful! You can create a complete customer profile, which becomes richer with each interaction helping you to find out where they are, what they buy and what content they click on.

What are the downsides of Sitecore?


Skill level
: with flexibility comes great responsibility! There is a lot you can do with Sitecore’s digital marketing features- personalisation, campaign management, marketing automation but all this great stuff needs planning and managing. We produce a bespoke user guide and offer full Sitecore training and digital marketing consultancy to make sure everyone’s skills are up to scratch ahead of launch and beyond.

Complexity: while there are so many features built in, this means it’s a more lengthy process to install and get up and running than a stripped-back system like Umbraco.

Cost: for Sitecore you are looking at a starting price of around £40k for the licence. This can be prohibitive for some companies. Find an agency to work with you on your licence requirement and getting the business buy-in needed to move projects forward.

Who is Sitecore for?

Sitecore is an enterprise-level product, suited to large, ambitious businesses who need a lot of clout from their website. The adage used to go, “No one ever gets fired for choosing IBM.” IBM has most definitely been replace by market leader Sitecore.

How do you pick the best CMS?

It’s less about sector, and more about your business objectives.

So although Umbraco is often chosen by financial services and membership organisations and Sitecore is popular in the travel industry, both are suited to all sectors.

When you come to us looking to develop a website, what we need to know is what you want to achieve.

  • How big is your business?
  • What are your ambitions?
  • What resources do you have?
  • What’s your budget?

Looking for a web design company in London to develop your Umbraco or Sitecore website? Tell us more about your project and we’ll swing into action.