Comparing WordPress vs. Magento for eCommerce
Dedicated eCommerce Content Management Systems (CMS) are useful for running your online store, but can be quite expensive. Thankfully, there are two robust open-source options available for free! This means even small stores can benefit from using an eCommerce CMS to manage their store, customers, and orders.
Magento is built for eCommerce from the ground up – its entire mission is to help users build an online store. WordPress is a regular CMS, but can be extendable with dedicated plugins to transform it into a full-scale eCommerce management system. Both of these can serve your needs as an online store, but the right choice for you depends on your primary goals.
In this article, you’ll be introduced to the major differences between Magento and WordPress for eCommerce. Then, we’ll cover their unique strengths and weaknesses for both Search Engine Optimization and security. Finally, we’ll reveal the possibilities of using both as a combined solution.
Differences Between WordPress and Magento
While Magento and WordPress are both powerful open-source platforms, they are extremely different. Simply put, Magento is built to run online stores, while WordPress cannot support eCommerce out of the box. However, the latter can be easily extended to become a robust online store with the help of plugins such as WooCommerce.
Both Magento and WordPress can support blog posts, regular site pages, products, shopping carts, customer accounts, and order history. That being said, in the same way WordPress needs a plugin to support eCommerce, Magento needs a plugin to support blogging.
Development Differences Between WordPress and Magento
From a development perspective, Magento is generally more advanced than WordPress. It’s not built with the goal of being extensible and developer-friendly, but to be an enterprise level eCommerce platform.
For example, a WordPress developer attempting to create a theme in Magento may quickly become frustrated. While templating is available and not overly difficult, it’s done in a much more programmatic way and can take a bit of getting used to.
Meanwhile, WordPress is much more flexible for those learning to hack together new ideas, and it’s easy to begin contributing and creating, even for newcomers. However, this means, you’ll often be working on your own to hack together many plugins to meet the same level of eCommerce capability as Magento. It only takes one outdated plugin for your entire infrastructure to stop working.
For those concerned about extensibility beyond the code, both Magento and WordPress feature built-in REST APIs. These let you to build third-party applications with the full power of these platforms behind you, whichever you choose.
Magento vs. WordPress
Whether Magento and WordPress is right for you comes down to your business goals. If your primary focus is building your business and online sales, Magento could be ideal. If most of your goals revolve around content marketing and digital publishing, WordPress is a stronger solution.
As far as options go, Magento gives you a choice of managed cloud hosting with Magento Commerce (formerly Enterprise Edition), or you can go down a self-hosted route with Magento Open Source (formerly Community Edition).
Similarly, you can host your site at WordPress.com (becoming a VIP member to use any eCommerce plugin you prefer), or host your own WordPress.org site to achieve the same goal.
In both cases, you can also turn to enterprise-grade managed hosting solutions (such as WP Engine), and in our opinion, this is the best of both worlds.
WordPress vs. Magento for Security
You may be wondering: Is WordPress safe for eCommerce? Due to its popularity, WordPress gets a lot of press on this aspect. However, the core code for both WordPress and Magento is highly secure.
As mature platforms, Magento and WordPress both feature years of security improvements. The question of security comes down to the add-ons, themes, and plugins you choose, as well as how well you are able to manage your server security if you’ve followed a self-hosted route.
Security is yet another reason to choose a managed hosting solution, as you can have complete flexibility and freedom without worrying about misconfigured server security flaws.
WordPress vs. Magento for SEO
Both WordPress and Magento ship with acceptable SEO features, but they can be improved upon with a few tweaks and plugins.
For WordPress, it’s important to choose clean-coded themes that follow best practices, and install a plugin such as Yoast SEO to manage important per-page details such as custom page titles and meta descriptions. Since WordPress is built with textual content in mind, it’s a bit more intuitive to tweak and optimize.
Likewise, when using Magento be sure to choose a well-scripted theme. As Magento is not usually built with content marketing in mind, you may find that it takes a bit more elbow grease to tidy up your SEO. One of the most overlooked aspects of Magento is to add title and alt text to each and every image, which can significantly increase traffic from image searches.
Combining WordPress and Magento
Magento and WordPress can also be used in tandem. In this case, you’ll use Magento as the primary solution to manage both the store and the design. With Magento and WordPress working together, the front end of WordPress will be left behind, but you can still use the back end to manage all of the powerful blogging features available for WordPress.
If you’re just starting up your site, it probably makes sense to focus on either product sales or your long-term content marketing plan. If your business goals are centered around your store, or you sell more than a handful of products, Magento is a good choice. On the other hand, if you are focusing on content marketing and only sell a few items, WordPress will be ideal.
What about using both Magento and WordPress together? For big established Magento stores who need to turn their focus to strategies such as content marketing, this can be a good choice. In fact, WP Engine still offers benefits to sites that use Magento to power eCommerce store alongside their WordPress sites.
Choosing from Magento or WordPress may be a tough call, but one of the most vital decisions for eCommerce sites is choosing reliable hosting. WP Engine has comprehensive plans to keep your WordPress sites running smoothly, no matter the size or amount of web traffic.