At Monogram we have multiple software tools, programming languages and platforms in our arsenal. This keeps us relatively agnostic and enables us to tailor our technical solutions to client requirements. Content Management Systems (applications that help manage content on the web – CMS for short) are no different and here we’ll compare two CMS solutions. A very well known platform that powers a large portion of the web called WordPress and a less widely known called Statamic.
As with all comparisons there can be an element of bias. For context, we at Monogram develop and support websites on both Statamic and WordPress because we recognise that clients requirements vary, and that one solution does not fit all.
We have a deep understanding of how these solutions work at code level and offer bespoke development for both, from themes and appearance to custom plugins and integrations. This article summarises some of the pros and cons of each platform and illustrates how we approach projects and guide our clients toward the solutions that fit their use cases.
Vast support network - WordPress now powers 43.3% of websites, with a 65.1% share in the CMS market. As the most widely used CMS, WordPress is supported by a large network of developers across the world, so you have a choice when finding someone to help you develop or update your website.
Plug and play - At the time of writing there are over 31,000 WordPress themes in existence. These are website templates which can be uploaded to your WordPress profile, giving you a structure and theme for your website out of the box. This means that within just a few hours you can have a simple, branded website up and running.
Infinite plug-in possibilities - there are currently 55,000 plug-ins built for WordPress sites. These range from Yoast SEO, which helps you optimise your website for search, to easy form builders such as Contact Form 7 and e-commerce solutions such as WooCommerce. These plug-ins make it incredibly easy to add functionality to your site, with little to no coding experience.
Cheap to get started - WordPress is free. Some themes carry a fee but to launch a simple website on WordPress it is free, minus hosting and domain registration.
Reliance on Plug ins - Functionality is often added to WordPress site by using plugins. Want WordPress to do something? There’s a plugin for that. The issue here is that these plugins vary in quality and support levels and are sometimes incompatible with each other. Don’t get us wrong, some of the plugins out there are fantastic and work very well. Some.. not so much. Adding many plugins to a WordPress site can slow it down and make it difficult to maintain, manage and secure. We’ve seen WordPress sites with unmaintained plugins that have left them open to hacks and exploits, builds with over 20 plugins that have left them with poor performance and even sites that have stopped working because of issues with recently installed plugins.
Legacy code base - WordPress was launched in May 2003. And the core code has been built upon over time. This means WordPress includes, out of the box, a lot of functionality and opportunity but also a lot of redundant code. This additional code will make a website ‘heavy’, slowing it down. A slow website results in poor user retention and engagement, as well as reduced performance and higher costs across Digital Marketing activity. There are ways of mitigating this, but this must be factored in when planning a WordPress build.
Not so Free - Despite WordPress being a free platform, if you want to add functionality and thus utilise plug-ins, the cost can start to add up. JetPack for example gives your site added security, back ups and marketing performance gains, but for £60+ per year. In-site search plug-ins start from £50 per year.. The costs can start to add up depending on the complexity of your website.
Poor quality off-the-shelf themes – Many off-the-shelf themes look great and are either free or inexpensive and under the hood, they’re built to cater for many audiences to give them mass appeal. This level of flexibility comes at a cost though, in the form of poor performance and SEO. We often see websites built with theme builders that look great, but score 25% and lower when benchmarked because of all the unused code, poor treatment of images and so on. This is fine if you’re not worried about performance and SEO but for our clients we build bespoke themes tailored to them.
One supported solution - Statamic is paid-for software, and the money generated goes into maintaining, supporting and improving it. This means not only directly supporting the team who created it, but also direct access to support from that same team.
Extensibility - Built on a PHP framework called Laravel, which is favoured by developers for its clean, elegant code, Statamic is highly scalable and extensible enough to handle the most complex of projects. If you can dream it up, we can probably build it in Laravel and hook it up to your Statamic site!
SEO and Site Speed - Statamic’s flat file system and lightweight codebase make for a faster loading site out of the box. Search engines favour quicker sites because they yield better user experiences, so this helps boost your search engine ranking. We’ve noticed this with our new website – which, by the way, runs on Statamic.
Security - The majority of website hacks are carried out using SQL injection. Statamic does not use SQL databases out of the box and so is not typically vulnerable to these types of attack.
Workflow - Multiple Statamic users can edit a single article at the same time, view revisions and can see what content looks like before publishing. Couple this with our static hosting and deployment solutions and you can even review wholesale site changes before you press the go button.
The need for developers - By comparison with WordPress and its legion of plugins and themes, Statamic is lighter weight and less opinionated out of the box. Despite the availability of Statamic ‘starter kits’, you’ll likely need the help of web developers to successfully deploy a new Statamic based website.
Initial price - It costs $259 to get started. But we should mention that many pay-for WordPress add-on equivalents are included in Statamic’s core codebase – and that the money directly supports the fantastic team who built it.
Fewer developers – Statamic isn’t as well known as WordPress, which means you’ll have a smaller selection of developers to call upon when you need help.
The management interface isn’t WordPress – many of our clients favour WordPress because they’re used to the WordPress user interface or the WordPress way of managing content. Statamic is similar, but if you’re transitioning from a WordPress build it may take a little getting used to.
There’s no one winner and no “right” solution. Both WordPress and Statamic are equally valid CMS applications, each with their own pros and cons. Starting with your business case, your plans and your objectives and a solid understanding of the solutions available would always be our recommendation.
If you are in the process of scoping out a website development project then get in touch for a free consultation. Within the call we can review your current online presence, help you define the scope of your project and help you decide which software is best for you.
You may also want to consider which project management tool to use, and how to create a successful website project plan.