The implications of choosing a different solution can be significant. But, are you getting what you need from your current platform, and do the disadvantages increasingly outweigh the positives?
Here we explore how Umbraco stacks up against Sitecore.
Umbraco is one of the World's leading content management platforms. It’s Open Source, Licence free, and loved by over 700,000 businesses and organisations world-wide. An increasing number of larger businesses are making the switch to Umbraco. But, how does it compare when considered alongside a stalwart of the enterprise solution league table; Sitecore.
Performance & SEO
Umbraco is inherently one of the fastest and lightweight frameworks on the market. As a result it naturally aids SEO performance, particularly post Google’s Core Web Vitals algorithm updates in the last couple of years, which place more emphasis on site performance than ever.
Umbraco has a number of automatic caching and indexing tools in its configuration that make it easier to optimise for speed, and wider performance. It’s also easier and faster to create and edit metatags and titles.
Conversely SEO implementation and performance for Sitecore scores below Umbraco. In fact, user scores in the most recent G2 CMS comparison and rankings study scored Umbraco most highly at 82% with Sitecore at 69%. Sitecore tends to be harder to customise and optimise settings for SEO. We find, it’s automated caching and compression is not as effective as Umbraco, nor is it as flexible.
Integrations & extensibility
Sitecore is a traditional DXP (Digital Experience Platform). A traditional DXP is a monolithic product that comes with a pre-defined suite of tools powering the delivery of connected contextualised experiences, such as payment gateway, shopping cart, a personalisation engine and much more. Which is a complicated way of saying that a monolithic DXP tries to solve everything for everyone, but predominantly using their own solution to solve it
This has drawbacks when it comes to 3rd party integrations because it means that the tools that you can use are largely predetermined on your behalf and limited. This gives less flexibility and often greater cost. It could lead to the need to change other aspects of your architecture to retro-fit with Sitecore. Whilst there are options to integrate with other 3rd parties in places, because the platform is first and foremost designed to work best with its own pre-selected tools it can be more complex, time consuming and costly to explore and implement alternatives.
Umbraco allows you to create what is called a composable DXP which enables complete flexibility around the solutions that are integrated to create your specific, focussed and custom DXP. Each tool can be selected based upon its ability to meet your specific requirements, and importantly are only integrated if and when they are needed, only paid for when they are used, and can be flexible enough to any existing tech infrastructure or platforms in place.
Ease of use
Umbraco is known as the friendly CMS. It is one of the most intuitive CMS platforms to work with as an editor or content marketer and requires minimal training. It’s been rated Easiest to Use and having Best Usability by Global Software marketplace - G2, when compared to hundreds of other platforms.
Sitecore is known to be harder to use. Because it is jam packed with features and functionality it comes with a greater level of complexity and need for training. true have also found that there can be a need for some coding experience and understanding to really be confident in managing the platform. Features such as user management and role setting are difficult and complex to use, and the levels of configuration are at times bewildering.
We want content editors and administrators to be able to publish new content and manage form data without the overhead and investment of significant training, and for it to be simple and straightforward to do their day-to-day job well. When true have re-platformed clients onto Umbraco, we receive extensive feedback as to how much time it has saved them making content updates, how intuitive it is and how they had previously been paying substantial license fees for an inferior editor experience.
Impact & sustainability
A factor of growing importance is how energy efficient and sustainable the experience platform or CMS you choose is and how much the company is taking steps to reduce their environmental impact.
At an overall level, solutions built in C# and on Microsoft’s .Net Core, which both Umbraco and Sitecore are, are much more energy efficient than PHP, Java or Ruby. .Net is inherently more efficient, and uses less resources to both build and run.
Whilst there’s still some debate around the accuracy of measuring the energy efficiency of applications, Umbraco’s framework, and particularly its more recent interactions are incredibly lightweight and efficient. In addition, due to its composable nature, it’s by definition more efficient as it only uses what is required or integrated, so it out-performs Sitecore on this front.
From a hosting perspective, both Umbraco and Sitecore can be self hosted on premise, or cloud via Microsoft Azure, which is one of the most energy efficient hosting solutions. Umbraco Cloud has been proven to be 93% more energy efficient than on-premise options.
In the last few years, Umbraco has been on a journey to carbon neutrality. It is taking its impact very seriously. Earlier this year, they published their first annual impact report - https://bit.ly/3rmLQjq, in which Umbraco highlight their initiatives and successes in reducing CO2 emissions, as well as naming that the most recent versions of the platform on .Net Core provide 50% lower CO2 compared to the less efficient, earlier editions.
Cost & ROI
Sitecore comes with a significant upfront license cost. It’s hard to be specific about the cost as a number of variables affect the price. If your website attracts a reasonable scale of traffic, is quite image and content heavy, and using elements of customisation and A/B testing, it’s likely costing in the region of £60-100k per site, and quite possibly more. We know of clients with high usage, and multisite architectures and complex implementations paying in excess of £300k. And, likely to be paying 20% of that up front license cost per year, per site.
That is a significant proportion of any website project investment, and it raises a key question over whether businesses will truly recoup that cost.
Like Sitecore, Umbraco is underpinned by Microsoft. It utilises .NET Core and benefits from all the inherent robustness, and security of the world class Microsoft language, but, without any license cost.
Perhaps even more telling than the up front license cost is the return on investment time frame. From the August 2023 G2 comparison data, the average time to reach return on the project investment for a Sitecore implementation is 29 months, compared to only 15 months for Umbraco. And, almost 50% of businesses achieved ROI in 6 months as opposed to only 14% for Sitecore.
That is a compelling argument. Of course, there absolutely are cases where Sitecore is the best choice for a business. Perhaps for a more complex, global, multi-domain business which is highly advanced in its content personalisation and has deep pockets. But, increasingly, we would challenge marketers and IT professionals to really consider whether that additional cost, time and complexity will really be worthwhile.
Any digital experience platform can only achieve so much in and of itself, but choosing the right solution for your requirements can be such a strong foundation on which to create a transformative and effective digital experience.
If you’re considering re-platforming your digital estate or website or questioning the value you’re getting from your existing solution, get in touch to discuss your options. We’d love to help.