If your content is the foundation of your business website, the CMS is its backbone.
What is a CMS? CMS stands for content management system. What is a content management system? It controls a visitor's experience on your site, including:
- Content, including blogging
- Performance (UX, loading speed, etc.)
- Social media & email marketing integration
Depending on your CMS, it may even integrate with your off-site ads, customer relationship management system (CRM), and other marketing tools.
The two most trusted CMSes on the market are WordPress and HubSpot. So, what're the key differences in HubSpot CMS vs. WordPress? Which one is best for you? If you're considering creating, revamping, or migrating a business website, here are your top considerations:
HubSpot CMS vs. WordPress for Your Website
First, a quick story for the take of transparency.
protocol 80 started out as a website design company. In the beginning, we strictly used an in-house platform called c80. Over time we shifted to using WordPress for every client. At the time, it was the best content management system for small-to-medium businesses, and adequately met most needs.
Nearly a decade ago, we moved to HubSpot for our own website & marketing. Many of our clients also shifted to HubSpot, and they're all quite happy with it. As their marketing team, it allows us to provide more in-depth reporting.
However, many prefer WordPress over HubSpot because of its low cost and simplicity.
In short, we're quite familiar with the pros and cons of the HubSpot and WordPress CMSes. In the end, you may find that neither meets your needs. That's fine -- there are plenty of other CMSes out there!
For now, we're focusing on the two heavy hitters in the website management arena:
There are simple reasons for WordPress' popularity. Many website makers want a free or cheap option for their hobbyist or mom-and-pop-shop site.
WordPress is an open-source software the developer installs on your servers, or using a third-party hosting provider.
WordPress is great for independent website owners who want full control over their website and enjoy a large community network full of add-ons to power the functionality you want.
- Core tools are free -- You can build a simple site and blog at no cost -- it's when you need advanced, business-level solutions that you'll need to pay for plugins, security, & maintenance.
- Numerous plugins provide additional marketing capabilities -- About 60,000 plugins exist to provide additional functionality like sitemaps, SEO (search engine optimization), and performance analytics.
- Standard, easy-to-use platform -- You can easily create text-based content. If you only want a basic website, WP is simply a matter of getting a handle on its point-and-click interface.
- Thousands of paid & free themes -- WP offers more blog, online store, portfolio, and business templates than you could ever need.
- Large community-support network -- As an open-source software, WordPress' community has greatly influenced its evolution.
- Fully customizable coding -- For independent website owners, WordPress's large community and customizable code make it easy to DIY everything.
- Established, trusted platform -- A tried-and-true website solution since 2003, WordPress powers a good chunk of the web.
- Built-in blogging capabilities -- It was originally built as a blogging platform/software, so not a lot to worry about here.
- Integrations are clunky -- As you add plugins, too much time is spent chasing down broken integrations.
- Plugins often rely on individual developers -- Most WordPress plugins are developed by independent programmers, which means you're relying on them to keep your site functioning.
- Not very secure -- WP is a common target for hacking, and you're at the mercy of those indie developers to keep plugins secure.
- Lack of coordinated customer service -- Issues will require you to pay someone (internal or external) to track down the cause and correct it.
- Limited built-in optimization and marketing capabilities -- Even with 60,000 plugins, analytics, search optimization, and publishing marketing assets is far from seamless -- nor is it cost-efficient.
- May require admin or developer middleman -- If you're not tech-savvy, WordPress will feel cold and confusing, as complex designs are difficult to maintain and update.
The first thing you should know about the HubSpot CMS is that it's a paid service up-front. And there's a reason for that. It's highly intuitive, and provides a solution to the problem of actually getting eyeballs on your site.
What is the unique role of HubSpot's content management system among its many competitors? It's the only CMS designed from the ground up as a content marketing platform.
HubSpot is great for the less tech-savvy business owner who wants a secure, turnkey solution for their marketing and web content management. HubSpot's focus is generating leads through your website.
- Full marketing integration -- HubSpot provides built-in, fully integrated marketing tools for landing pages, calls-to-action, email, social media, and a blog, all branded to match your website.
- Highly secure -- It comes baked-in with premium hosting & security features like SSL, all managed and updated by HubSpot.
- Extremely fast load times -- HubSpot ensures your infrastructure and bandwidth is adequate to meet your site's performance needs and keep visitors engaged.
- Dedicated support team -- As a SaaS content management system, HubSpot affords 24/7 access to a world-class support team.
- Detailed analytics & reporting -- You'll have all the analytics you need to measure website performance, and direct integration into your HubSpot CRM unlocks even more data and actionable insights.
- SEO capabilities -- HubSpot includes an SEO recommendations tool, on-page SEO tools, and native integration with Google Search Console.
- Fully customizable website design -- No plugins or extra software are necessary to serve great-looking content on both desktop and mobile.
- WYSIWYG -- HubSpot's editor for website, landing, and blog pages is largely "what you see is what you get," so you shouldn't have any surprises once you hit "Publish."
- Marketing automation -- HubSpot's tools allow you to send follow-up emails based on pre-existing templates (making it great software for account-based marketing) and set social media posts to publish whenever you wish.
- Dedicated development team -- HubSpot employs thousands of professionals to continue to optimize its platform and add features.
- Turnkey solution -- HubSpot offers equally robust sales and customer service platforms to those who seek a one-stop solution.
- It ain't free -- Up-front, you'll pay $25/month for Starter, $400/month for Professional, & $1,200/month for Enterprise content management software.
- Templates limited -- HubSpot has some modules available on its marketplace, but if you want to add a feature not included in one of those modules, you'll need to hire a HubSpot developer.
- Requires hosting -- Unlike WordPress, these are managed website content hosting services, and you can't build a website elsewhere and host it on HubSpot (or vice versa).
- Still requires development skill for advanced sites -- Using templates can be a bit complex to modify without CSS knowledge, so those seeking custom features will need a HubSpot Partner Agency.
- No built-in e-commerce -- HubSpot users who require e-commerce capability must host their store on a separate platform (i.e. Shopify), which means you're juggling multiple websites.
And the Winner in WordPress vs. HubSpot CMS Is ...
Is WordPress the best free content management system? Probably.
But there's a reason why we use HubSpot CMS ourselves to publish and measure content, as well as track sales efforts.
Just having a WordPress website (or even a HubSpot one) won't get you very far -- you also need people to take action. The best WordPress alternative for those serious about using their website as a growth machine, HubSpot offers additional marketing and sales tools so you can knock out everything in one place.
Additionally, you can track the performance of every piece of content you produce. This means you can easily A/B test your marketing materials, optimize pages and blog posts, and track visitor activity.
In short, although you have to pay for the HubSpot CMS, you're getting a buttload of capabilities and quality-of life-improvements.
If you need more advice for managing or moving your website, check out our free website update and migration checklist:
(Editor's note: This article was originally published in December 2016 and was recently updated to reflect changes in the software.)