As a programmer, I get asked a lot if Magento is better than WordPress? Most people say you are better off going with Magento if you are building an e-commerce site and WordPress for non-commerce websites. Usually, I hear arguments like “An e-commerce store is not scalable in WordPress”. I think there is a little bit more to it.
First, I think we need to decide what makes one or the other the better software. When making my own analysis I focused on 3 areas: Overall User Experience, Scalability, and Cost of Maintenance.
Overall User Experience
I think this is hands down a win for WordPress. Even though I noticed a big improvement in Magento 2.0’s admin interface, it still has a long way to go to get to where WordPress is. Like with so many other things in life, the difference is in the details.
Magento does not feel like it was not designed starting from the end consumer and working backwards as Steve Jobs famously praised to always approach his designs. Working your way back from the end consumer allows you to visualize in great detail how users will interact with your interface.
WordPress is simply better at allowing the user to build content. You never have to go to different pages to build one piece of content like you do in Magento when building Attributes and Attribute Sets or Categories.
Magento has a great focus on e-commerce which I believe makes it weak when it comes to the CMS side of things. For example, Magento assumes by default that your categories represent your Main Navigation. This means that if you want to add custom links to your nav such as pages you need to use Blocks and enter the HTML yourself to match the styles on the nav. This really sucks and makes things hard to scale.
For the purpose of this article, scalability refers to the efficiency in which your site handles large amounts of traffic. Whether said traffic comes from growth (steadily increasing over time), or it comes and goes in waves, it does not matter. To keep things simple let’s assume that your server is setup correctly in either scenario.
Let’s start off with the fact that both Magento and WordPress are built using
MySQL and they are both equally scalable when set up in the right environment. Sure, there are many differences between each platform even though they are built on the same language. For example, WordPress is built using straight up PHP while Magento is built on top of the PHP Zend Framework.
Having said that, out of the box there are a few things that Magento does better than WordPress in the scalability area. Like search. A big part of handling large amounts of traffic efficiently is allowing your users to find what they are looking for as quickly as possible. In an e-commerce store the search functionality can get very complex and since Magento is focused on e-commerce it’s search functionality is robust and well thought. It runs an indexer that allows it to prioritize products in the database which makes it really efficient when searching through a large store (hundreds of thousands of SKUs).
Caching is another crucial part of making your store scalable even though your efforts should not end there. Magento does a good job handling cache out of the box. It offers you a pretty granular caching engine where you can enable/disable and refresh different objects right from the admin interface. You can also handle cache and many other settings via the command line which really improves your workflow as a developer.
Serving 30% of the web, and having the largest open source of community of the two, WordPress clearly takes the win on this one. It is a lot easier to find an affordable developer for WordPress than it is for Magento.
Some of the day-to-day tasks in Magento require some level of coding/programming knowledge. Like installing a theme or a new extension in Magento requires you to connect via FTP to upload files, then connect to the server via SSH to run a few commands, then finish installing from the Admin interface if previous steps where successful. A lot of the content that goes in Magento pages typically require some sort of HTML to be written. The WYSIWYG editor in Magento is subpar to say the least. This forces companies to hire more expensive employees to maintain their site because they need to have knowledge in writing code.
So How Do I Choose?
So, how should you decide between WordPress and Magento?
To help decide which way you should go with, ask yourself the following questions:
How much of your business (traffic) is e-commerce? If you run an e-commerce store/blog that depends on traffic coming in through your blog, you will probably have more people working on creating and approving content than you will on updating products. I would rely on WordPress for this and not Magento.
How many products, attributes, variations of products, or different types of products do you carry? If the answer is a lot, Magento is probably the better solution. Since it already comes equipped to handle all of this things out of the box, it would be safe to say that Magento would require the least amount of configuration to do it for your store to be up and running.
How Many Stores Do You Have? Magento has the ability to run multiple stores with different domains under one roof. This allows you to do things like running stores with two different languages each in a different country handling different taxes and languages. You can get pretty creative here and build a nice scalable architecture for your e-commerce solution.