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In our alternatives series, we help buyers identify the differences between Contento and other well known CMS so you can decided which will be the better fit for your business.

Looking for an Alternative to WordPress?

Picking a new CMS is difficult - there are so many options to choose from. Wordpress is a traditional CMS - so an all-in-one website builder where content modeling, authoring and delivery take place. While WordPress represents a great starter website builder option (alongside Squarespace and Wix) it has several limitations that mean it is not a great fit for growing / scaling businesses.  

Migrations off WordPress towards Headless CMS are thus becoming more common as businesses look to future-proof their website, while reducing security vulnerabilities and helping to improve performance. 

The aim of this short guide is to try and support your CMS evaluation by outlining some things to consider as you seek to shortlist an alternative to WordPress. 

Finally, it is worth noting that WordPress offers both a hosted option WordPress.com and a self hosted option WordPress.org. The former is more user-friendly, while the latter offers more control and customisation but is better suited for more technical users.

Contento vs WordPress

Contento is a Headless CMS focused 100% on websites and WordPress is a traditional CMS (also known as legacy or monolithic CMS) where the front end and back end are tightly coupled. On the other hand a Headless CMS consists of a back end only, which acts as a content repository where an API is used to feed a front end (often - but not always a website).

The following represent some of the main differences to be aware of:

1- Content Management

When it comes to a Headless CMS, the content management takes place in the back-end (or the content repository). The emphasis is on structured content, which enables the content to be reused and repurposed as needed. Design is done separately - which means the interface you are using is stripped back compared to WordPress. It represents a separation of duties. Designers and developers manage the front-end design, whereas the marketing function focuses on content authoring, modeling and publishing. 

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Contento content editor and live preview

2- Design

With WordPress a common early decision relates to picking a theme to start with. It is thus easy to get started, so you can build and create a website without extensive coding knowledge.

With Headless on the other hand the front end is agnostic and thus designers have a lot more freedom to create bespoke designs leading to unique, beautifully designed websites.

3- Scalability

A Headless CMS is built for scaling by dint of how it is set up. A traditional legacy CMS like WordPress struggles as you scale - where you are pumping out multiple forms of content with various different contributors involved. Website bloat is common with larger WordPress sites, especially high-traffic websites. Again the architecture of a Headless CMS is a better fit for scaling content, users and traffic.

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Architecture options for a Headless CMS based tech stack

4- Development and Maintenance

The maintenance overhead for mature WordPress sites tends to be significant with monthly retainers being obligatory (it is a rare skill to have in-house technical capability in the marketing function to manage the technical elements of the site). The market for WordPress developers is well served so numerous options are available. 

A Headless website is a more technical set-up and it is important to have access to a front-end developer to support new page builds as well as ad-hoc maintenance. However, in many scenarios the skill set will exist in-house. Whether the product / technology lead will priority website maintenance over the product is a separate question. 

5- Integrations

The WordPress plugin ecosystem is impressive - with thousands of plugins and integrations that extend the core functionality. The business model for many of these is a free install, followed by an upsell. Successive marketing leaders tend to add additional plugins to meet specific needs, while processes to remove legacy plugins tend to be more sporadic leading to an accumulation of integrations that contribute to site bloat.

With a Headless CMS it is an API lead approach so no native integrations are required - it is extensible by design.

6- Security

When it comes to CMS security it can be difficult to compare (especially when limited to a few short paragraphs). Depending on which side of the fence you sit, you can probably make convincing arguments as to the security credentials of your preferred CMS.

As always with security, WordPress is also a victim of its own success. By dint of its dominance it is thus the CMS that hackers will most likely target. Similarly, security vulnerabilities are often human-error induced. The reality though is that WordPress has known vulnerabilities especially related to its plugin ecosystem, as well as the fact that the majority of WordPress sites are not kept up-to-date. In part, this is due to the fact that those managing and maintaining WordPress websites in-house are often afraid to keep everything up-to-date in case they break the site.

What is also evident, is that the architecture of a Headless CMS, is a more secure approach especially when it comes to relying on API’s from leading enterprise vendors (be that for hosting, or front end frameworks). 

7- Cost

When it comes to budget, Headless and Legacy CMS occupy different ends of the pricing spectrum. A WordPress site is a quick and relatively inexpensive way to get started. That said there are hidden costs to be aware of. One common cost is a monthly retainer to ensure the site functions smoothly. Depending on how complex the site is, themes, plug-ins and frameworks need to be updated regularly to ensure optimum performance (and to reduce security risks).

A Headless CMS is a more bespoke build where the requirements are more complex. You are essentially paying different providers which are plugged together. However these costs tend to be minimal as the majority of the cost relates to professional services i.e. “the build”. Build projects will typically require input from more experienced developers, and designers. It all goes back to my “horses for courses” argument - context is everything. The key question is how important the website is in generating business? If it is a key source then the extra investment needed for a Headless site will pay off handsomely via improved performance, and reduced downtime risk.

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Recommended Resource

Wordpress Vs Headless

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Our customers say it best

Kevin Magee CTO, Zyte

Kevin Magee

CTO Zyte

One of our goals was to ensure our Marketing team was not held up by the Engineering team on a daily basis. We achieved that and empowered Marketing to maintain the site at a speed aligned to our business requirements. Content creation and Engineering have been decoupled.
Philipp Maucher Chief of Staff & SaaS Network Ireland Coordinator

Phillip Maucher

SaaS Network Ireland Coordinator

We moved from Wordpress to Contento and have been delighted with the move. I no longer have to get developers to update the site - I reckon it's reduced my site 'admin time' by over 70%.
Ryan Crowley, CEO of Kore Systems

Ryan Crowley

CEO Kore Systems

The migration to Contento was seamless - the results have justified the decision to replatform to Headless.
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Making the Switch to Contento is a Breeze

We offer migration support from many of the other well known platforms. Get in touch to talk to one of our technical team.

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Frequently asked questions

Where does WordPress work well?


Where does a Headless CMS work better than WordPress?


Why does WordPress get bad press when it is so dominant?


Why do so many agencies promote WordPress?


Is a Headless backed development more expensive than a WordPress one?


Where can I learn more about the differences between Contento and WordPress?