At first glance, WordPress and Medium might appear to be competitors in the realm of content management systems. However, comparing the two is like comparing apples to oranges—they completely differ. While both platforms are viable solutions for writers who want to share their work, WordPress vastly outshines Medium as a branding tool.
To further clarify the key differences between WordPress and Medium, we’ve visually laid out some of the differences in the infographic below, along with further explanation following. Check it out!
WordPress vs. Medium
WordPress was originally envisioned by Matt Mullenweg in 2003 as a blogging platform and that’s what it became in its initial years of life. However, today the CMS is capable of much more than that.
A total quarter of the internet is powered by WordPress, totaling more than 74 million websites. In addition, more than half of the entire CMS market share on the entire internet uses WordPress.
In terms of blogs on the web, WordPress powers a whopping 95 percent of them. These aren’t all hobbyist blogs either. The evolved WordPress is used by many notable brands as a versatile web solution for building an audience.
On the contrary, Medium is what founder and former CEO of Twitter Ev Williams described as, “a new place on the internet where people share ideas and stories that are longer than 140 characters and not just for friends.”
Medium is a place intended to allow people to share their written thoughts and ideas. The environment of the social media platform is controlled—meaning it cannot be altered in any way. The only thing you control is what you write.
Medium’s market share is relatively small, with less than one percent of blogs used on the site. However, many choose to use the social platform because it allows them to focus on writing without having to worry about other aspects, like site design and customization.
As a writer, Medium offers the benefit of discoverability over anything else. Writers discover other writers, which is determined by categories including: Editor’s Picks, Reading Roulette, Top Stories, and other customized subjects.
Verdict: WordPress is made to build complex sites and beautiful blogs. Medium is simply a way to share your writing with others, as well as read about interesting subject matter.
Customization and Setup
While WordPress is open source and completely customizable, Medium has a locked design that cannot be altered. Site customization is important if you’re looking to build brand identity. But from a writer’s perspective, the technical aspects of modifying a site can be distracting and costly. This is one area where WordPress and Medium vastly differ.
Medium makes it easy to focus on writing with its minimal, sleek design, but it cannot be customized. WordPress too provides a beautiful, easy to use interface to work with, and you can take it further than given (the true beauty of WordPress).
In WordPress, customization requires a learning curve and there are many hidden features that take time to discover.
With Medium, setup of your profile takes mere minutes. Setup with WordPress only takes minutes as well. Yet it will require time to modify the look of your site or blog (which can actually be quite fun). WordPress comes with thousands of themes and plugins, helping you extend the functionality of your site galaxies beyond what you can do with Medium.
Verdict: WordPress is the clear winner for customization, while Medium takes the lead for setup speed. It takes less time to setup Medium because there’s no customization involved. WordPress is relatively quick to setup, but if you want to customize the design of your site, that’ll take extra time.
The better platform for getting your content discovered by search engines is without a doubt WordPress. You can easily manage basic SEO using an SEO plugin, like Yoast.
Moving the SEO needle up in WordPress can be easily be done by altering permalinks, H2, H1, image alt attributes, and other formatting options that are taken into account by search engine ranking algorithms.
Posting content to Medium is quite different in terms of SEO. The options for boosting SEO on WordPress are nonexistent with Medium. For instance, you can’t alter the meta-description of an article, nor can you add alt attributes to your images to make them rank higher. Want to customize how your content is shared on Twitter? Not possible. But with WordPress you can pretty much accomplish any desired SEO boosting action.
Another downside to SEO with Medium…if duplicating content, for example posting an article on Medium that you’ve already published somewhere else, it’s very likely the original content will outperform the Medium content on search engines.
Verdict: If you want your article to rank, don’t rely on Medium as its main home. WordPress is the clear winner here, with its out-of-the-box SEO functionality and SEO plugins that help drive traffic to your site.
You can use a variety of analytics plugins on WordPress to measure the success of your content.
Medium has a built-in stats feature which measures metrics like views and reads. However, Medium doesn’t allow the usage of external analytics. So you won’t be able to use Google Analytics or other stats tools outside the platform.
Verdict: WordPress can be integrated with many analytics tools, while Medium is extremely limited in measuring traffic, views, and other content performance metrics.
Popularity and Usage
There are not many published statistics about the usage of Medium, other than it gets around 30 million visitors per month. Many famous brands and writers utilize Medium to share their stories and thoughts, including REI, Starbucks, Intel, Michelle Obama, and even WordPress founder himself, Matt Mullenweg.
WordPress, on the other hand, has many stats to share about its usage. According to WordPress, more than 409 million people view more than 22.9 billion pages each month. Brands like CNN, Forbes, The New York Times and more all use WordPress to power their robust, on-brand sites.
Verdict: WordPress reigns ruler of the CMS world, while Medium holds a bare sliver of the market share.
The Medium Advantage
If all you want to do is write, share your content with others, and read interesting topics about what others have to say, then Medium has its advantages for you.
The platform is extremely easy and straightforward to use and you can personalize content discovery based on subject preferences. In addition, Medium makes a suitable portfolio to share your writing pieces in a single setting without having to worry about formatting or the UI.
While WordPress’ community can be accessed in various spaces outside the open source platform, the non-open source Medium’s entire community can be found in-house.
Medium makes it super easy to discover other pieces of writing based on your personal preferences. Other users can also give you feedback within your articles by highlighting segments of writing and contributing to them with inline comments. Users can even highlight a quote in your article and share it to Twitter.
All-in-all, Medium’s main strength is its sleek writing interface, followed by discoverability through its in-house community.
Disadvantages: Medium is limited in many ways. If you’re looking to create a website, custom blog, or extend brand reach, then Medium is not the solution for you. You can’t customize the domain of your Medium blog…basically customization is nonexistent. This makes Medium a poor solution for developing a business or personal brand.
The WordPress Advantage
WordPress’ key advantage is that you have complete control of your website, blog, portfolio, etc. and can customize it to your exact taste. This is advantageous because it allows you to develop your brand by tailoring your website with the exact design you want, including typography, color, formatting, page layout, and more.
Extendability is another huge winner for WordPress. You can add new function to your site through WordPress plugins. Image gallery? You got it. Contact forms? Easy peasy. Calendar? Piece of cake.
Whether your WordPress site be a blog, website, portfolio, or all of these in one, the CMS can be as versatile as you want it to be.
The open source nature of WordPress allows you to innovate as you like.
Disadvantages: The main concern that always arises with WordPress is that it’s not secure. On the contrary, WordPress is quite secure. What makes it insecure is the laxity of updating your core, plugins, and themes, which presents security vulnerabilities.
Strengthening the security of your site can also be accomplished with additional precautions, like using a strong password. You should also be wary about not installing plugins and themes with known security vulnerabilities (look for this in the review section).
WordPress vs Medium—Which is most essential to your workflow?
Ask yourself, “should I build my content house on rented land?”
The advantages between WordPress and Medium ultimately come down to whether you’re looking to develop a website versus looking to share your thoughts online without putting any customization into the look and feel of your blog. If you’re looking to monetize off your writing, then WordPress is a better way to go in the long run.
Neither WordPress or Medium are accurate replacements for the other. WordPress is better for a custom site/blog and the latter better for content discovery amongst other writers.
Whether an aspiring writer, content creator, business owner, or somebody who just wants to share your thoughts with the world, how do you use the platform(s) mentioned above?
For more on the differences between WordPress and Medium, see:
WordPress vs Medium: How to Choose the Right Platform