Sitecore vs Umbraco .


Here at the agency we are often asked the question of why one CMS platform is different from another. In response to this very question I’ll be looking at the key features of Sitecore and Umbraco with Server-Side Developer, Lee Swainsbury, who has a long heritage working with both platforms and provides his technical knowledge for a fairer, more accurate comparison.

Before we drill down to the individual platforms I think it’s important to bear in mind the main difference which is that Umbraco is open source CMS, as opposed to Sitecore which is a licensed, commercial platform.

Initial Setup

Sitecore has a wider and much more extensive out-of-the-box feature set when compared to Umbraco, including personalisation, marketing automation tools, web forms and workflow which makes configuration more complex and the setup process much longer. Let's just be clear though, nothing is ever really ready to use ‘out of the box’ with an enterprise level platforms such as Sitecore development setup and configuration time will be required.

On the other hand, Umbraco has a very simple out-of-the-box UI which means it’s very quick and easy to setup and the learning curve is much shorter for users.

“Currently, Umbraco’s configuration files are much simpler than Sitecore’s, however, this has been improved with the release of Sitecore version 9.” - Lee


Whilst Sitecore can be daunting to use, due to its vast functionalities, it is a very intuitive platform with functions such as content editing, workflows, uploading images and blog creation being very simple to perform.

“Sitecore’s feature-rich interface makes its on-page editor far superior to Umbraco’s Canvas Mode; allowing content editors to easily modify content inline, allowing them to work faster and more efficiently.” - Lee


Sitecore has three separate databases: Core, Master and Web. The web database only stores published content for the live site, meaning the front-end is much quicker. This functionality also helps to reduce human error where content is accidentally published live before it is ready.

Content Management Both Sitecore and Umbraco use data-sourced components meaning that editors can update one piece of content across multiple locations at once; reducing the amount of time spent editing for marketers. Those using Sitecore will primarily use the content editor tree, making it very simple to navigate and edit multiple views opposed to Umbraco where there are several views for navigation.


Umbraco allows developers to start their projects with a clean canvas to select the modules as you need them. However, it’s important to understand the different types of modules available as there are often several that can do the same thing and this can lead to complications.

Sitecore lets developers make use of 3rd party utilities (i.e. Unicorn sync) designed to simplify deployment across environments automatically. As well as this, Sitecore now has Helix, a set of overall design principles and conventions making the development process much tidier and more straightforward whilst also providing users with a more coherent content tree.

“The Sitecore community is continually growing but Umbraco has a large source community with a core team of full-time developers; making development much more flexible when compared to a commercial platform such as Sitecore” - Lee


Sitecore has recently introduced Sitecore Experience Commerce which includes a variety of features and functions and is a big contender in the e-commerce vertical.

Umbraco doesn’t offer its own e-commerce solution however, both platforms can be integrated with Ucommerce to create an e-commerce offering.

Earlier in this piece, I mentioned that Sitecore has more out-of-the-box features than Umbraco which can make it more cost-efficient for marketers, of whom these features will benefit most. I’ve explored these features in more depth below.


Sitecore developments are made up of renderings and components; making it easier for marketers to create behaviour based rules. System administrators are able to create personas and assign profiles to these which allow audience segmentation and contextual content delivery. Upon every visit, Sitecore creates a record of the users activity and, if a number of predefined rules are triggered in the session, personalised content can be delivered to the right persona at the right time. This could be based upon a repeat visit or if they have followed a brands social profile for example; making the path to conversion simpler.

See personalisation in action below with Red Carnation Hotels. We implemented personalisation to improve conversion rates!


Sitecore enables system administrators to restrict large sections of functionality effortlessly and on a granular level which is especially important for larger businesses that need to maintain control when giving multiple people access to the back office or publishing content.

Web Forms

Sitecore’s form solution, historically known as ‘web forms for marketers or WFFM’ integrates with the Sitecore Analytics database to store form submissions and drop-offs. However, Sitecore 9 improves this service with its newest form solution which delivers a more user-friendly drag and drop form builder and multiple page form option which offers better solutions to marketers.

Marketing Tools

Sitecore’s advanced marketing automation tools include A/B testing, engagement automation, follow up emails, goal tracking and, with the release of version 9, machine learning feature: Cortex.

Sitecore’s built-in analytics helps complete the 360 customer view and records user profiles including every interaction that a customer has with your brand to help marketers understand what it is users want from your site and how they currently navigate your content.

Which platform suits which business type

Umbraco is great for businesses that don’t need lots of fancy features but want a simple, pages and news digital presence making it the perfect solution for small to medium-sized businesses that don’t have enterprise level marketing budgets.

Sitecore, on the other hand, is a fully scalable platform that makes it simple to introduce new products or services without requiring a complete redesign. It is better suited to larger organisations, those that have complex booking system integrations, multi-lingual or commerce functionality or those who want features such as personalisation, marketing automation and built-in analytics without the add-ons.

Read Managing Director, Nick Towers', blog on choosing the right CMS for your business!

I asked Lee which platform he would recommend and why…

"For smaller organisations or start-up companies Umbraco is the better choice but whilst it’s an open source platform and generally free if you’re trying to build a complex solution with added features the cost can really mount up.

“So, if you’re serious about connecting with your customers and tracking their engagement and delivering personalised contextual marketing messages then I would suggest making the investment and going with Sitecore. You won’t regret it!”

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.


Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

Naomi Harper
Head of Marketing & Communications
Naomi is the agency's Head of Marketing & Communications with a strong background in Public Relations, events, Marketing and Brand campaigns.

Naomi joined Sagittarius in January 2021 to deliver exceptional external brand experiences, engaging internal communications and to assist with the driving of sales and the developing of relationships with key strategic suppliers.


Naomi Harper

27 Mar 2018 - 7 minute read
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