Website with WordPress or HubSpot? A comparison

12 min read
Apr 29, 2024 2:00:26 PM
In collaboration with Emerce - Actually, it's a luxury problem: there are several good systems for creating a website and managing content. WordPress and HubSpot are both widely used and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. In this comparison, we list them in seven points.

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The most popular car in America is the Ford F150 (except in Florida, where they prefer to drive the Toyota Corolla). The best-selling car in the Netherlands, on the other hand, is the Volkswagen Polo. In case you know nothing about cars: the Ford F150 is, by Dutch standards, a gigantic pickup truck, the Polo a compact family car with which you can park just fine in most streets of Amsterdam.

Sentiment aside - you won't get an American in a Polo, even with money to spare - what is the best car of the two? What features should you look at to determine that? You'll immediately think: what kind of comparison is this? And that's a fair question, because every modern car is simply good. The time when cars already started to rust in the brochure is behind us. Still, a comparison is possible. You will just have to look not at the cars themselves, but at those who will drive them, where they will drive them and what distances they will be driven in them.

So target group and context are more important in valuing features than those features in themselves. Features such as cost, top speed, number of wheels and weight may influence your choice, but more is not necessarily better.

Choose the CMS that fits your growth ambitions

The same is true when choosing a CMS: the options a CMS has, the cost of a CMS, how easy it is to customize matter, but not without looking at target audience and context. Higher startup costs, for example, may be an obstacle, but maintenance costs should also be factored into the judgment.

Thousands of options may be enticing, but are they useful? If you are buying a new car for commuting, you are probably not looking at top speed, but rather fuel consumption, purchase cost and comfort. But for some, comfort means air conditioning, for others asubwoofer in the trunk.

CMSs like WordPress, Drupal, HubSpot or Squarespace can all be a wise choice. Just look at the comparisons on G2. But when you look at the 7 factors, there is not just one truth, it depends on your situation.

  1. Flexibility inlook and feel
  2. Plugins and integrations
  3. CMS as part of your platform
  4. Security and maintenance
  5. Support and community
  6. Costs
  7. Opportunities for developers

1. Flexibility in look and feel

In thelifecycle of your website you have to deal with this at several moments: during the development of the website, during the management of the website and during further development.

First, website development: can you get your website built quickly and easily, exactly the way your designer wanted it? With both HubSpot and WordPress, this is a resounding "yes." You have complete control over how your website will look, down to the pixel. Even if you use atemplate, a developer can relatively easily modify it however you want.

Just be aware that using atemplate as a base is not necessarily cheaper than building a website from scratch: if the differences from the desired end result are too great - even if they look very similar - the adjustments can be very costly. Moreover, it is often very difficult to estimate how much work it is to modify atemplate. A project can quickly become a dragging drama as all sorts of unexpected problems crop up during construction.

Flexibility in use

Then flexibility in use (see also "3 - Ease of use"): this is not necessarily a major issue. If your pages always look the same - aheader picture, text and afooter - this is not an important point. But if you want the freedom to add an additional element on a page when appropriate, such as a form or a photo carousel, this may be an important point in your situation.

When creating or modifying pages, HubSpot allows you to use avisual drag-and-drop editor. This means that you can drag and drop components (modules) on the page, and you immediately see how the page looks. WordPressout-of-the-box only has input fields and arich-text editor. A plugin like Visual Composer will get you a long way with WordPress, but your developer will have to make yourtemplates suitable for this . On HubSpot, you can always use this. Except perhaps for old websites, but they will be relatively easy to make suitable.

A website is an organic product and it is never finished. You will always need a new template or module, or a specific element needs to be modified. With a HubSpot website, you are to some extent self-sufficient if you want a newtemplate: through thedrag-and-drop editor, you create pages, not templates. Every part of a page can be reused in a different configuration on another page.

A simple module can often be added to your arsenal in a few hours. Think of it as a bin of colored Lego blocks. Clicking the cubes, the modules, together creates a homepage, for example. On the product page, you can reuse that same green Lego block, thus creating new combinations between existing blocks. Efficient and scalable.

2. Plugins and integrations

WordPress has more than 50,000 plugins available, quite a few of which are free or very inexpensive. HubSpot, on the other hand, has less than 1,000 modules available and about the same number of integrations. Easy win for WordPress, then. Or is it?

The biggest advantage of WordPress over most CMSes is at the same time its biggest disadvantage: simplicity and flexibility. A novice developer can have developed a plugin and put it online within a few hours with the help of atutorial. As a result, quality is far from guaranteed. Behind bigger and better-known plugins like Contact7, Yoast and WooCommerce are professional developers, you don't have to worry about that.

But unfortunately there are also many plugins among them that simply don't do what they promise, are full ofbugs, have serious security issues or don't work well with other parts of your website. So quantity is not the most important thing, andquality assessment is far from easy for someone who is not technical, so always be careful when installing a plugin. The biggest advantage of integrations with HubSpot? They have passed balloting, so you can be sure that they are secure and that your data integrity is guaranteed.

It's also important to distinguish between plugins that make components available to your website, such as a contact form, or plugins that add functionality. In the latter category, think of a link to your CRM or an integration with Google Analytics. When it comes to the former category, WordPress wins by a street length, not least because of WordPress' long history.

There are also many plugins available for integrations, but especially here pay close attention to the quality of the plugins. These plugins are potentially dangerous to the integrity of your data, and thus yourbusiness, by directly making changes to other systems. Customizing the functionality to your own needs can also sometimes be problematic, whereas an integration with HubSpot can be set up completely flexibly thanks to the recently purchased PieSync integration platform.

3. CMS as part of your platform

A website is just one part of your entire (online) marketing strategy. In many cases a necessary part, but you can never see it as a separate medium. A website has an information function (telling your visitors who you are and what you do), a support function (direct contact with your customers through a customer portal or via alive chat, or self-help through documentation), and an acquisition function (converting your visitors into leads and customers). But in all cases, you also use a CRM, sometimes an ERP, email marketing software like Mailchimp, you place ads on social media or on Google, etc.

There is no such thing as aone-stop shop (and anyone who claims there is cannot be trusted). The marketing tech stack of an average company of between 50 and 100 employees consists of more than 70 differenttools. Getting those to work well together is a big challenge, but alsomanaging your own time well: you don't want to have to log in somewhere else every 5 minutes to get something done.

With plugins and integrations, you can connect WordPress to anything, and there are plenty of developers out there who can build a plugin for you. But you'll still keep jumping around between all yourtools. WordPress is a CMS, the HubSpot CMS Hub can be used as a standalone CMS, but with the CRM, Marketing, Sales and Service Hub, it's much more than that: a complete platform. With a specific focus on integrations with other software - including excellent integrations with competitors like Salesforce - you can make everything come together within HubSpot. That way, HubSpot becomes the epicenter of your marketing efforts, without sacrificing the power of specialized software by requiring you to use inferior options.

For example, if you've been working with Mailchimp for years and are considering switching to HubSpot, you don't need to look at the newsletter sending capabilities within HubSpot. Those capabilities do exist - and are well advanced and offer plenty of options for many as well - but can't compete with a platform like Mailchimp, which has focused solely on email marketing for years and is the absolute market leader because of that specific focus. By making clever use of links, you manage your contacts in the HubSpot CRM, link statistics to data collected from other tools and allow visitors to sign up through the website.

4. Security and maintenance

Actually a part you don't want to concern yourself with, but still important to think about carefully. Again, if you do it right the end result with both HubSpot and WordPress is the same, namely a secure website, to the latest standards. But unlike most other components, there is still a clear winner in this regard: HubSpot.

With a WordPress website, you are responsible forhosting, (security) updates and maintenance yourself. Not only does this involve extra costs, but it also requires a lot of attention. Attention that neither you nor your developers really need. You want to focus on the content. Developers mainly enjoy building new things. As a result, hundreds of thousands of WordPress websites are hacked every year. This is not because WordPress is insecure per se, but because WordPress is not updated, and more importantly, because unsafe and/or old plugins are used.

With HubSpot, you are only responsible for your own website: what it looks like and what you put on it. But a team of several hundred developers is working day and night for you to keep the platform secure andup-to-date.

5. Support and community

As for support, we can be brief: HubSpot you can always call, email or contact viachat. With WordPress, you're on your own. This is offset by a huge community of developers and users. Almost any problem you have will be solved for you on the first page of Google, if necessary you can post your question on one of the numerous forums or on developer community Stackoverflow .

Even though the HubSpot community is growing , it is nowhere near the size of the WordPress community. But in HubSpot's case, you do deal almost exclusively with professional users and developers. On HubSpot's Slack channels there are more than 5,000 active users, on thecommunity forum a multiple of that. That doesn't sound like much when you compare it to the hundreds of thousands active on StackOverflow, but it's enough to get an immediate response. More importantly, it's always a quality answer. In addition, there are nearly 5,000 HubSpot partners you can turn to, albeit paid, for specialist help.

HubSpot also actively invests in the HubSpot Academy, where you can find high-quality study materials, regularly organized events and knowledge sessions, and very extensive documentation is available.

In short, HubSpot can't compete with WordPress 'community, and you may wonder if it ever will. However, due to the professional support from HubSpot itself, and fellow users on various channels, this need not be a problem.

6. Cost

The HubSpot CMS Hub costs €230 per month, WordPress is free. Both statements are incorrect. The monthly cost for the CMS is indeed €230 per month, and WordPress is indeed free to purchase, but this does not include thecost-of-ownership.

First, with a CMS you don't have a website yet. A template gets you online cost-effectively and quickly, but then you have a website like many others (some WordPress templates have been installed more than a million times). If you want a website tailored to your needs, with serious B2B functionality, you'll need to hire a developer, a designer, and if you really want to make something of it acustomer experience specialist, a UX designer or acopywriter.

Then hosting: with HubSpot this is included, with a WordPress website you are responsible for this yourself. Again, a simple hosting package doesn't have to be expensive (starting at a few tens per year), but you do need someone who can set up the hosting for you, install and update WordPress.

Maintenance is the biggest expense that gets overlooked. An SLA for a WordPress installation can cost anywhere from a few tens to a few hundred euros per month depending on the work included. When entering into an SLA, pay close attention to the terms: for example, will external plugins also be updated? And if a new version of WordPress comes out and plugins are not compatible, will an alternative be provided?

Make sure you always make room in your budget for ongoing development as well. If you are actively working with your website, there will always come a time when you need a newtemplate, atemplate needs to be modified , or an integration with another tool needs to be installed or modified. This is generally specialized work that you prefer to outsource.

In principle, a WordPress website can cost less than a few dollars a year, but think very carefully about whether you then have the website that is going to help yourbusiness move forward .

7. Opportunities for developers

Marketers and developers are not always the best of friends. Developers often shout that something is difficult, impossible or very expensive, which leads to frustration among marketers: after all, the question seems so simple. It is often difficult for developers to explain why a question is so difficult or expensive. The main reason is that a website is a technical product, many times more complex than, say, a closet, something with a high level of abstraction, sometimes hundreds of thousands of lines of code and hundreds of different components. All just to get a simple blog online.

Over the years, endlesstools have been built that allow developers to work quickly and efficiently. More importantly, ones that allow them to work to commonly known standards so that when the next developer needs to work with them, they immediately know where to look to add a new feature or fix a bug.

HubSpot does not have a great history in this. For years, developing a website could only be done on HubSpot itself, many used - and, according to many developers, essential - tools could not be used with HubSpot. WordPress, on the other hand, is an open platform that you can develop exactly as you are used to. And it is written in PHP, one of the largest and best supported programming languages. HubSpot admitted as much itself: it was built for marketers, not developers.

In the past year, however, this has changed a lot. With the advent oflocal development tools, developers can now use their owndevelopment stack, and developing a HubSpot website is no longer so different from developing a WordPress website. The main difference now is the ability to develop yourself in thebackend.

WordPress can become anything: you can turn it into an e-commerce platform, build acustomer portal, aknowledge base. You name it and it's possible, with or without the help of an existing plugin. All of this can be done with HubSpot as well, but it will quickly feel tinkered with and you will be limited in the options.

However, this is still not an argument against HubSpot. As a developer, you will need to think moreservice-oriented, rather thanfeature-oriented. Think of a CMS as a service, just like an online store. In the case of WordPress, a webshop can be afeature of your website, but WooCommerce - let alone a self-built platform - can't always compete with specialty platforms like Magento or Shopify. However, you can perfectly well set up a webshop in Magento, manage your website in HubSpot, and make the two work extremely well together through a link. With the advent ofserverless functions and numerous APIs, developers can also very easily add their own services to the website.

So which is better, HubSpot or WordPress?

The bottom line is: one is not better than the other, just as the Ford F150 is not better than the Polo, or vice versa. It all depends on the user, the purpose and the context. And you don't have to choose, either. The excellent coupling between HubSpot and WordPress also allows you to use the two side by side: HubSpot as a marketing platform and WordPress as a CMS.

If you do need to choose, ask yourself the following questions: who will use the CMS? And how often? Daily, weekly, monthly? What othertools do I have in my marketing tech stack? How well do they work with WordPress or HubSpot, and what is the cost to link them? What budget do I have? And what are the returns?

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