Netlify vs. WordPress: Which Is the Better CMS?

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Madison Zoey Vettorino
Madison Zoey Vettorino

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Comparing Netlify vs WordPress reveals more differences than similarities, but the two have one essential commonality: Both are robust open-source, free-to-use content management systems. However, that's where their similarities end.

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In this post, we'll help you understand the differences between Netlify and WordPress so you can find the best CMS suited for your website's needs.

Netlify vs WordPress: Background Information

Before we dive into the key features of each, it's helpful to have additional context regarding these two CMS platforms. Let's start with WordPress.

You're probably familiar with WordPress, as it's the more popular option. WordPress powers 43% of all the websites on the internet. Because WordPress caters to users that don't already have programming experience and want an easy-to-use CMS that can help them build an aesthetically pleasing yet functional site.

Netlify has a more niche audience. It appeals to developers who care about their website performance and want to create a speedy site that scores points for its load time. Because WordPress has a heavy backend, it can slow down a site and lead to security issues, which is where Netlify excels.

If you ask a developer how to make your website load faster, they may recommend you convert it to a static site. This is ideal for informational sites that change infrequently and don't require user interaction, but there might be a better fit for your purposes.

For a more complex website, you'll need to use a database-driven CMS such as WordPress. And, of course, there are options to address your site speed on WordPress. You can install performance plugins to boost load time, choose an excellent hosting provider, and update your WordPress core, theme, and plugins frequently, so they're up-to-date.

Pro Tip:WordPress is known for its various plugins, but be mindful of which you choose. Be sure you avoid accidentally selecting one that will slow your site down.

Netlify vs WordPress: WordPress Key Features

Developers tend to have polarizing sentiments when it comes to WordPress. Some developers specialize in working with the platform, while others don't prefer it due to its vulnerabilities. But itisthe most popular CMS for a reason. Let's discuss some of WordPress' most notable features. 

Comparing Netlify vs WordPress: Shows what the inside of the WordPress HubSpot plugin looks like.

WordPress Pros

Here's a pro: The possibilities for your WordPress site are endless. You can use it to create a small or large-scale site that accommodates a variety of functions. Whether you want to build an ecommerce site for your business or create a personal blog, you can bring your vision to life with the help of WordPress' variety of features. 

In addition, WordPress boasts a directory of thousands of plugins. These plugins help fill in the functionality gaps in your site and make working with WordPress a more seamless experience. For instance, theHubSpot WordPress pluginis a popular free option that infuses HubSpot's functionality into your WordPress site, so you don't have to go back and forth to transfer your WordPress findings into your CRM.

Next, let's discuss the theme options available on WordPress. Because there are so many unique theme designs, it's easy to customize your WordPress site to have your desired look and feel. Whether you want to hire a website designer to create a theme specific to your brand or work with one of the thousands of available options, getting started is easy as you'll install it with one click.

Pro Tip:WordPress offers various managed hosting options, so you have support. There's something for every budget, as managed plans start at $4 per month.

WordPress Cons

While working with WordPress undoubtedly has many advantages, there are some drawbacks you should remember when considering which CMS to select.

One of the main potential drawbacks of WordPress is its load time. It's not known for being the most speedy CMS on the market. The platform can be weighed down even more if you add additional plugins incompatible with your theme. You may also run into trouble if the plugins are simply heavy. If you have too much activity on your WordPress installation, your site will load slowly — a user experience nightmare.

As mentioned, WordPress is open-source software — which means that it can be vulnerable to security threats. Of course, options are available to make your site more secure, and if you choose specific managed WordPress plans, you'll have access to a team of experts to help ensure your site's safety.

Even with extra security features, if plugins, themes, and WordPress core files are not updated regularly, they can be vulnerable points for attack. These issues are cause for concern, but most companies want to keep their dynamic websites open. Instead, website managers are turning to static site generators.

Pro Tip: Be sure to select your theme wisely, as some prioritize style over function, resulting in a buggy, slow site.

Netlify vs WordPress: Netlify Key Features

Netlify can automate website projects and caters to a more advanced group of users, such as website designers or developers by trade. Let's discuss some of the main reasons Netlify is worth considering. 

Netlify Pros

Netlify's CMS harnesses JamStack technology, which created the most popular static site generators. JamStack is called "the future of development architecture," so you can understand why Netlify's CMS is popular. It is built on serverless, headless technology based on client-side JavaScript, reusable application programming interfaces (APIs), and prebuilt Markup. As a result, Netlify is more secure than a server-side CMS such as WordPress would be.

Netlify is not a static site generator. However, you can use this CMS to build your static and headless website projects. From there, you can store content on your Git repository along with code. The result is seamless editing and updating, which establishes it as an excellent contender. 

You can use Netlify with a static site generator to initiate its repository for GitHub and its services. Updates are executed and distributed across content delivery networks (CDN), delivering prebuilt static pages to visitors — with Netlify picking the best one.

From there, Netlify distributes static sites across its content delivery network. (Think of what you can achieve regarding page load speed when you're serving prebuilt pages from the CDNs nearest to visitors.) Files are lighter, so you can host your site in the cloud and avoid web hosting fees. Most developers find the Netlify platform's free tier plan offers plenty of functionality for personal projects.

We also want to clarify that the Netlify CMS differs from the Netlify platform. The platform can automatically build, deploy, serve, and manage your front-end sites and web apps. According to Netlify, the Netlify CMS has never been locked to its platform (despite having the same name).

Pro Tip: Don't miss out on some of Netlify's other key features, including the ability to connect custom domains, create custom-styled previews, add user interface (UI) widgets, editor plugins, and backends to support different Git platform APIs.

Netlify Cons

While Netlify has some obvious perks, some drawbacks are also associated with using this platform. For one, it's not accessible to those who don't have pre-existing knowledge of development or design. Therefore, there are better options for beginners.

In addition, Netlify offers a lot of functionality but features fewer add-ons than you'd be able to get with WordPress. There are more WordPress plugins available than Netlify because the former has a larger audience, as even individuals who have yet to gain experience can use it.

Lastly, there are some themes you can use to get started with Netlify, but fewer than you'd find on WordPress.

Pro Tip: Explore how you can use Netlify if you choose to work with it — you can even use it to collaborate with your team members.

Final Thoughts on Netlify vs WordPress

While WordPress and Netlify have some overlap, they cater to different audiences. WordPress is an excellent resource for beginners that have yet to gain programming experience. Netlify makes it easy to edit content for static sites versus manually editing files from the server.

If you're looking for a CMS option that combines the cloud-based, streamlined functionality of Netlify and the customization and flexibility of WordPress (without the bloat), consider Content Hub.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in July 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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