Today we’re responding to a reader request, sent in via the “Ask a Question” link in the top navigation. (If you have questions to ask, please submit them by clicking the link!)

The reader brought up a longstanding CMS question…why pay for a CMS like Sitefinity, when WordPress is free?

We actually talk about several reasons to pay for a CMS in our white paper, Open Source Vs. Proprietary CMS: Which is Stronger?.

But this paper talks primarily in terms of Open Source CMS vs. Closed Source/Proprietary CMS. Let’s get a little more specific in this post. Just Sitefinity CMS vs. WordPress. Is one better than the other? What justifications might exist for paying for Sitefinity?

When a Free CMS like WordPress is a Good Choice

Yes, I’m going to say it. There ARE instances where WordPress (or another free CMS like it) is a good choice for a business website.

In general, I’d say to consider WordPress if your needs sound similar to any of the following.

  • You’re a new business which needs a basic “starter” website.
  • You’re a creative professional, such as a designer, and don’t want all of your work homed in social profiles.
  • You’re a freelancer who needs a portfolio (non-ecommerce) website.
  • You’re a Small Business with no IT department (yet).
  • You’re a Small Business which focuses more on social profiles than a website. This is called the “home base” strategy; your website just serves as “home base” while you go out on social.
  • You just want to start a blog. (The original purpose of WordPress…who’d have thought?)

In these instances, just about any CMS will do the job. WordPress, with its thousands of plugins and even more themes, makes for a quick and cheap solution.

That said, it’s not for everyone…

When a Proprietary CMS like Sitefinity is a Good Choice

There are also instances where a bigger, sturdier CMS like Sitefinity is the better choice.

We’ve built Sitefinity websites for businesses and organizations fitting each of the following criteria. In general, if they apply to you too, it’s worth paying for Sitefinity CMS.

  1. Businesses with multiple departments (or branch locations), where people from each department/location will need to update the website.
  2. Businesses who need to stay compliant with federal/state regulatory requirements, such as SOX or HIPAA.
  3. Businesses already using a Microsoft IT infrastructure. (This is because Sitefinity uses ASP.NET in its development. As such, we recommend you only run it on Windows Servers.)
  4. Businesses who use digital marketing initiatives.
  5. Organizations who must stay vigilant about security.
  6. Businesses with non-technical users. And let me expound a little more on this point, because it’s extra-important.

Non-Technical Users on Sitefinity: Keeping Updates Easy

Over the last few years I’ve gained a lot of training experience. I’ve conducted Sitefinity training sessions for dozens of our customers’ employees. Some were what you’d call “technical people.” But most were not.

Sitefinity CMS Content MenuFrom the trainer’s perspective, it’s easy to spot the difference.

Technical users will ask questions like, “How do we tie in Vendor X’s service?”
Non-technical users will ask questions like, “Where do I go to update a page?”

The non-technical user’s answer is very simple. Just go to the Pages section. Click a page. Update the part you want to update. Don’t forget to click Publish.

Every time I answer this question for non-technical users, it only takes a few minutes for them to grasp the process.

The way Sitefinity is structured lends itself not only to easy updating, but also easy information-finding. “Where’s the blog?” Under the Content menu. Click Blogs.

“Where did Bob put that news article?” It’s under the Content menu too. Click News.

“We need to change the address in the footer. But it’s on all the pages!” It’s in a shared content block. Look in Content Blocks.

“Can I change the description tag for search engines?” Sure! Click the Actions link to the right of the page name. Click Title & Properties. “Description” is the field you want.

Of course there’s a lot more you can do in terms of website updates. But I can convey the basic update process in a few minutes. Consider how much employee time this saves…a few minutes to make one page update, as opposed to scrambling around the CMS, trying to dig up that one spot where this one update is stored.

I’ve lost HOURS chasing down updates for customers in the past. Their CMS buried the details and gave me zero direction. (I did figure it out. But I spent time I didn’t really need to, as a result of their CMS getting in the way.)

Is it easier to update pages in Sitefinity than it is in WordPress? Personally, I think it is. That’s because WordPress divides its content between several different areas – Widgets, Posts, Pages, Appearance > Themes, plugins, etc. I know where things are (usually) and it doesn’t take long to update content (usually).

But in Sitefinity, most of the page content is concentrated or accessible in one place—the Page Editor. Click on a page and you’re in.

Easy page updating is one big part of why we recommend Sitefinity. For technical and non-technical users alike.

Before Choosing, Ask Yourself What’s Most Important for Your Website Moving Forward

Websites have undergone something of a standardization in recent years. The growth of mobile Web use has encouraged a simple, easy-to-navigate user experience. Many Content Management Systems have updated their tools to work within such a user experience. Including WordPress. And Sitefinity.

I know it’s overly simplistic. But when you’re asking “which CMS do we use for our website?” the best answer is, “It depends on the website.”

  • What do you want the website to do for your audience?
  • What should it do for your employees?
  • How much are you willing to pay up front?
  • How much can you pay for website support down the line?
  • How long will you keep the website’s current version before upgrading?
  • Do you have an employee who can dedicate time to maintaining the website, or will you contract website maintenance out?

Answer those questions before choosing Sitefinity or WordPress. It’ll make the choice—and the work to build the website—a lot easier.

Which CMS does your website use? Sitefinity? WordPress? Something else? Please comment or email with the CMS, and why you chose it.

Why Pay for Sitefinity When WordPress is Free?
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