HubSpot CMS vs WordPress: Which is Better?

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HubSpot and WordPress are two of the most popular Content Management System (CMS) platforms for businesses. And for good reason - each offers different benefits, pricing structures, ease of use and functionality. But which one is better?

At BizzyWeb, we build websites in both WordPress CMS and HubSpot CMS, so we have a lot of insight into each platform and the options available. Today, I want to walk you through some of the main considerations when choosing a CMS, and compare HubSpot and WordPress so you can decide which one is right for your business. 

Cost

This is often the sticking point for deciding on a CMS, so let's talk dough. For comparison's sake, I'm not considering any design and development costs - I'm looking only at the costs of the CMS itself. The cost to keep your site online, not actually to make the website itself - development fees range widely depending on the complexity of your build. 

HubSpot:

HubSpot has a range of CMS options: Free, CMS Professional and CMS Enterprise. At each level, you gain access to different tools. A large website with eCommerce, knowledge base, community functionality, custom apps, etc. will likely need CMS Enterprise. A medium-sized business with a 20-page site and limited custom functionality can easily get by on CMS Starter or Professional. HubSpot's monthly price also includes hosting, security and maintenance. 

Short version: HubSpot ranges from $0-$1,200 a month, but that price includes hosting, security and maintenance.

WordPress:

Open-source (wordpress.org) WordPress is free to use. The appeal is the "free," but that also means that you have to pay out of pocket for special features, which will range widely in price depending on the provider you choose. This includes:

  • Hosting - typically ranges from $50-$1,000/mo
  • Plugins - costs will depend on the specific plugin. Some of the most popular plugins are MonsterInsights ($199.00-799.00/yr), WP Rocket ($59-$299/yr), The Events Calendar ($0-99/yr) and BackupBuddy ($99 - $299/yr). 
  • Security - you'll have to pay for SSL certification, firewall, and security & threat monitoring. Some hosting services offer these with hosting, but not always. Sucuri is one of the most popular security options, and their prices start at $199.99/yr.
  • Maintenance/support - if you want your site to stay secure and safe from hackers, and to continue to work correctly as WordPress is updated, you need to spend time and effort updating plugins, fixing things that break when software is upgraded and protecting against vulnerabiltity.

Short version: WordPress itself is 100% free, but you have to pay for hosting, plugins, security and maintenance. Pricing comes at a huge range, depending on site complexity, number of daily users and required functionality. 

Plugins/Integrations

Both HubSpot and WordPress offer basic features with their CMS options, but then require additional plugins or tools for extra functionality - like eCommerce, events calendars, custom applications, etc. Additionally, both have integration options with other tools like Google Adwords, Constant Contact or Salesforce.

HubSpot:

HubSpot calls their plugins and integrations "apps" which are available in the app marketplace. Most are free, including popular tools like Gmail, Google Calendar, Facebook, Google Search Console and LinkedIn. More complex tools like eCommerce, interactive calendars, forums, etc. are priced by the app providers. 

Most of the popular online tools you might need to integrate with your HubSpot website are going to be available on the app marketplace. Very specific, edge-case tools might require an app developer. 

With HubSpot, all apps are monitored and kept up-to-date automatically, so you won't need to check your apps for the latest versions.

Likewise, because HubSpot also offers other hubs like marketing and sales, if your website is built in HubSpot you'll be able to flow data across these different hubs effortlessly. You can learn more about the various Hubs and how they speak to each other on our HubSpot Services page

 

→ Related Content: Why We Migrated Our Website From WordPress to HubSpot

 

WordPress:

WordPress is the largest open-source tool available, which means the sky's the limit on plugins and integrations you can choose from. However, that freedom also has serious drawbacks. There is no overarching authority to verify if a plugin is safe or "legit" so you'll need to make sure you verify each plugin before installing, ideally with an IT expert. You'll also need to manually monitor your plugins and integrations for the latest versions, as they won't update automatically.

However, the flexibility and openness of WordPress is ideal for websites that need an extremely high level of customization and detail. Because it's also the most popular website builder, any tool that offers a website integration is virtually guaranteed to offer it for WordPress, whereas HubSpot is less certain.

Design Options

This is going to be the shortest section because the options are similar for both, but it's worth mentioning as it is a concern when choosing a CRM.

HubSpot & WordPress

You have three options for design: free themes, paid themes and a fully-custom design. When choosing a theme, non-developers have more options for editing as they're usually more accessible to non-developers. Customized designs may require technical development to edit.

For most businesses, you'll likely want to use a paid theme from a reputable source as a base, or a fully-customized design. Prices for both are set by your web developer, based on the complexity of your site and design. 

Ease of Use for Non-Developers

As mentioned above, both HubSpot and WordPress offer many options if you're a coder. However, the two CMS options are quite different from a non-developer point of view.  If you want to change text on a page, swap out an image, or even just change the colors of something, depending on your choice of CMS you're either in for smooth sailing or a day of rough seas (and some queasiness).

HubSpot:

HubSpot CMS is designed with non-developers in mind, so simple content updates are a lot simpler and more intuitive. They also offer a free training course - CMS for Marketers - that's designed for non-developers (don't let the name fool you - it's helpful for sales, customer support and management as well.)

Likewise, adding modules to a page - like a 2-column section, image grid, slider, form, etc. - is easy and will automatically look good, without any coding required. You also have more no-code options for swapping out colors on a specific page. For example, you're typically able to change buttons, headings and form field colors right within the content editor for any given page.

You might still need to get a developer involved for site-wide design changes - like updating a menu, changing logo colors on the site or design elements that aren't available via modules. 

Short version: adding new pages, editing an existing page's text or images, or swapping out colors is easy for non-developers in HubSpot. Modules are set to match a design and are easy to add. More complex or site-wide changes will still need to go through a developer.

WordPress:

WordPress offers lots of customization and control. However, the trade-off is that it's generally not as easy for non-developers to make changes. Depending on the website's design, content changes like swapping out a word or image can be straightforward or require a developer to execute.

WordPress does have a drag-and-drop module editors like HubSpot, however, that functionality often doesn't work smoothly with most custom layouts. Items like buttons, headings or form fields will have default styling that, depending on how the site is built, will either override any changes you might make on a page or not appear by default and require you to figure out to make your pages match the rest of the site. Plus, all the extra code required for drag-and-drop design adds a MASSIVE amount of code, complexity and headaches to the site. Most site builders dramatically slow down the site's they're used with.

Short version: most WordPress designs will make it easy for non-developers to update text or imagery on a page-however, some designs may limit that functionality and require a developer. Modules are typically more complex and may require a developer to ensure consistent design. Site-wide changes will still need to go through a developer. Drag & drop on WordPress = slow sites.

 

→ Related Content: Which is Better for SEO: HubSpot or WordPress?

 

Analytics & Reporting

One big difference between HubSpot and WordPress is the analytics and reporting options available out of the box. Both connect to Google Analytics, but the data you'll receive without extra set-up is different.

HubSpot:

By default, HubSpot CMS will show you all your web performance analytics right in the tool - no setup needed. Additionally, because HubSpot CMS connects to other HubSpot Hubs and your CRM, data flows across multiple touchpoints. For example, if you have Marketing Hub and CRM Hub, you can track a contact's activity both on your website and with other marketing efforts - like on social media, through email and via online ads.

WordPress:

WordPress doesn't natively include any analytics features, so at a minimum you'll have to set up Google Analytics and access all your site data through that tool. There are plugins that pull in Google data to your website (like MonsterInsights) but those come with an additional cost.

So, which one is better?

"Better" is subjective, of course. The best way to answer that is to consider your business, your website and marketing needs and the sizes of your teams.

Choose HubSpot if:

  • You also have a marketing and sales strategy that can greatly benefit from integrating the website's functionality with marketing and sales efforts (aka if you're serious about your marketing and sales performance, and want it all in one spot).
  • Your website doesn't need complex integrations.
  • You'd rather not worry about hosting, support and maintenance. 
  • Your non-development teams like marketing, sales, customer support or management want to be able to to update and edit the site on their own.
  • Ease of use, data flow, customer insights and in-depth reporting are more important to your business than 100% custom coding options.

A good fit for: medium-to-large-sized businesses that anticipate growth, need connectivity between website/marketing/sales and want to let teams self-serve for any website updates they need to make. 

Choose WordPress if:

  • Integrating your website with sales and marketing is not worth the cost trade-off at this time.
  • You're using niche, small-scale industry tools that don't integrate with HubSpot but do integrate with WordPress.
  • You have a dedicated IT/development team to handle website hosting, support and maintenance. 
  • Your teams need to update and make changes to the site frequently, and it will be more effective to have a ticketing system where a development team executes requests submitted by other teams. 
  • Alternatively, you don't anticipate needing to update your site frequently and would rather pay a fee for development as required. 

A good fit for: small-to-medium-sized businesses that don't anticipate updating their sites frequently, and where marketing/sales can function effectively without easy access to the site. OR large-scale businesses with a dedicated development team where 100% custom coding options are necessary.

In short - WordPress is open-source and free to use, but requires additional costs and expertise to run properly. HubSpot CMS charges a monthly fee, but includes everything you need to host, manage, and update your site.

If you're still not sure which one is right for your needs, we can help with that.

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BizzyWeb is a Minneapolis-based digital marketing and web design agency that helps companies get the high-quality leads they need to grow and thrive. Our tactics include inbound marketing, SEO, advertising, web design, content creation and sales automation. We are an accredited HubSpot Platinum Partner and we offer full-service HubSpot onboarding, enablement and strategy for new and current users.
 
Dave Meyer
Author: Dave Meyer
Dave Meyer is President of BizzyWeb. Dave has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and communications and has presented digital marketing topics to thousands of people across the US and Canada.