A website is only as good as its content, and to manage digital content, many marketing teams turn to a content management system, or CMS. Two of the most popular options out there are HubSpot and WordPress.
The two solutions, however, are quite different in their approach to content management, making it important to know your own organization’s needs and capabilities before choosing.
Selecting a CMS is a complicated decision, so to make evaluating your options easier, we’ve analyzed both CMS systems for you. We’ve even graded them based on performance across several categories, including user experience, security, SEO, and analytics.
In our analysis, we took the perspective of a marketer in a medium-sized business with no dedicated in-house web development team. (This means if you’re a marketer in a very small company or a large enterprise organization, you might weight factors differently than we did.)
To round out our analysis, we’ve also shared insights from two of Clariant Creative’s expert partners: our own Lead Designer Laura Swords, and Fabio Munhoz, CEO of the design and development firm Epic Digital. (Note: In the spirit of full transparency, Clariant Creative’s own site is built with HubSpot.)
Let’s dive in!
User Experience & Design Capabilities
The best CMS in the world won’t serve you well if it’s difficult and frustrating for you to publish new content or change the layout of a page.
Which CMS offers a better user experience? Well, that depends on the options you select. WordPress offers many attractive and inexpensive plug-and-play themes that can be extremely simple to use. However, Laura warns that “older themes may not have visual editors, which can be cumbersome for the non-technical user.”
To go beyond basic offerings and add different types of functionality, WordPress gives you access to more than 54,000 plugins (features and tools that can be added to WordPress websites) that can be used to do everything from optimizing images to adding a social media feed to a web page.
“WordPress has a huge plugin database you can use to customize your experience,” says Fabio. “But if you install a lot of plugins, it can turn the administrative dashboard into a mess, since every plugin has its own interface.”
In essence, designing in WordPress is like driving a race car on the Autobahn: There’s a lot you can do, but a lot more trouble you can get into if you don’t have the skills and experience to handle your power properly.
HubSpot, on the other hand, offers a more middle-of-the-road approach. For starters, HubSpot uses slightly different language than most CMSs, which presents a small learning curve but is relatively easy to master. HubSpot also offers a solid level of customization, including off-the-shelf themes that can be purchased, and its design and user interfaces are intuitive.
All of this means HubSpot can be used to easily create attractive and functional websites without requiring a great deal of expertise. But this ease of use comes at a price: HubSpot offers fewer options than WordPress. You can get flexible with HubSpot coding, but this requires a higher level of expertise.
Where HubSpot particularly shines, however, is in its level of support, says Laura. “There’s a large knowledge base of articles to help guide you if you get stuck, and the technical support is highly responsive.”
What’s the Takeaway?
WordPress offers simple websites for novices and a high level of customization and complexity for advanced users. For intermediate-level needs and technical abilities, HubSpot offers a reliable, clear, and well-supported option that can scale well.
Security & Updates
Maintaining website security is vital. The last thing any organization wants is for their site to be hacked, particularly if their site acts as a portal to sensitive company or customer data.
WordPress frequently pushes out updates to the CMS, and plugin developers push out updates to their plugins. However, these updates must be installed manually, which means the administrative dashboard needs to be checked regularly to see if updates are available. Because updates are released so frequently, it’s easy to fall behind in installing them. This can create a major problem. Operating on an outdated WordPress platform or using outdated plugins can create a door for cybercriminals to hack your site. Additionally, trying to install several iterations of updates in one shot can cause installation problems that could even lead to loss of data and/or functionality.
“Some clients have had problems with attacks and invasions on their custom WordPress websites, which has caused them to hire us to migrate them to a more secure solution,” says Fabio.
If, however, you’re consistent about checking the administrative dashboard of your site at least weekly, security updates won’t be any more onerous than any other maintenance task.
HubSpot, meanwhile, takes a completely different approach to security and updates, by taking it out of the users’ hands altogether. The company continuously makes platform improvements based on user input, and these security and performance updates are implemented automatically for all subscribers with minimal user input needed.
In addition, you can easily set up two-factor authentication for every user in your HubSpot account, which can help prevent unauthorized access to your CMS.
A related issue is data privacy. If you need to be GDPR-compliant, HubSpot offers a simple toggle switch to turn on GDPR features. You can even customize the language of your consent messaging. With WordPress, you’ll need to manually create your own GDPR solution or search for a plugin.
What’s the Takeaway?
WordPress leaves critically important security and functionality updates up to the vagaries of each user’s commitment to checking their administrative dashboard. HubSpot takes no such chances, guaranteeing an updated and secure CMS with virtually no effort on the user’s part.
In general, SEO performance has more to do with the content you put on your site. That being said, the right CMS can help you boost the performance of that content so that it’s more easily found by your ideal audience.
HubSpot’s publishing process includes a series of notifications that “make sure you check all the boxes regarding your SEO: page titles, built-in meta description boxes, tags for blog posts, etc.,” says Laura. In addition, HubSpot delivers good cache management and fast response.
Adept WordPress users who know how to finely craft custom SEO features and dig deep into underlying code can also obtain superior SEO results. However, for less-skilled users, the Yoast plugin creates an experience which is just as user-friendly as HubSpot’s, walking you through a step-by-step optimization process.
The difference? HubSpot will flag you before you publish a web page or blog post that isn’t search engine optimized. Ignore these flags, and you’ll receive no further reminder from your HubSpot dashboards – you’ll have to go into each individual web page and click the “On Page SEO” tab to see recommendations. With the Yoast plugin for WordPress, you’ll see a visual red/yellow/green indicator on your administrative dashboard that shows you how well you’ve optimized each page.
What’s the Takeaway?
Both CMS options offer helpful guidance on optimizing SEO. HubSpot presents theirs while you’re building each page, while WordPress presents theirs after the fact, providing a constant reminder. Which option is better is entirely up to your preferences.
Analytics & Reporting
When it comes to analytics and reporting, HubSpot is practically peerless. Right out of the box, users are able to create helpful dashboards, analyze and report on traffic, and follow individual leads from the first conversion to the final sale and beyond. Source tracking, blog management, and marketing campaign management provide a 360-degree view of your website, how it’s performing, and how to improve it.
“Hubspot has excellent reports and integrations,” says Fabio. “You can create reports with almost total control.” How in-depth your analytics and reporting abilities go, however, depends on which HubSpot subscription level you’ve paid for.
WordPress, while having no built-in reporting features, does make it easy to implement tracking code, such as that from Google Analytics, via plugins. This plugin will give you some information right on the dashboard, but to dive deep, you’ll need to turn to Google Analytics. It’s also worth noting that unlike HubSpot, Google Analytics and WordPress are both free.
What’s the Takeaway?
If basic analytics are all you need, WordPress offers satisfactory options. If you want to dive deep into analyzing your site, content, marketing funnel, and campaigns, HubSpot offers a wealth of options under one roof.
The Final Verdict: HubSpot Websites vs WordPress Websites
|UX and Design||B+||A-|
|Security and Updates||A||C-|
|Reporting and Analytics||A||B-|
Wrapping things up with comments on the types of businesses that benefit from these respective solutions, Laura explains, “Medium to large businesses with sales and marketing teams can benefit from the comprehensive business focus of HubSpot, which allows the management of content and contacts throughout the entire lifecycle all in one place.”
Fabio adds, “WordPress is a great low-cost choice for small businesses or sole proprietorships who need a simple and attractive website, as long as you can commit to keeping it updated on a regular basis.”
As it turns out, the best solution for your business is the one that will work best with your needs and your capabilities. Either way, building out a beautiful website and populating it with helpful, well-written content will go a long way toward bringing potential buyers one step closer to signing on the dotted line.