You no longer have to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to become a web developer to get a fully functional website. In fact, you don’t have to pay any developer. There are hundreds of platforms that you can use to design professional e-commerce stores for personal or business use.
To help you make the right choice, we have focused on two of the absolute best platforms for building e-commerce websites. These are WordPress and Magento. In this article, we will explore both platforms in detail and provide all the information you need to decide which platform is perfect for your needs.
Once you’ve decided on the best platform, you’ll need a web hosting plan and provider.
- Here’s our recommended list of the Best Magento Hosting Providers
- Here’s our recommended list of the Best WordPress Hosting Providers
- WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system (CMS)
- Plug-ins are like apps you install on your WordPress website to improve functionality
- Magento is a platform designed primarily to help web owners build online stores
- A CMS (content management system) is a platform that allows you to manage your website content without technical knowledge
- A WordPress theme is a design scheme that influences how your website looks and functions
WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system (CMS). It was released in 2003 as an open-source blogging platform and has become the best website builder for individuals, professionals, and businesses. You can use it to create websites and launch blogs. It is estimated that over one-third of websites worldwide use WordPress.
However, WordPress is not an e-commerce solution. You must integrate plug-ins to add e-commerce functionality to your WordPress website. Plug-ins are like apps you install on your WordPress website to improve functionality. There are plenty of e-commerce plug-ins for WordPress websites, but the most common are:
- WooCommerce: An open-source e-commerce plug-in for WordPress
- WP Shopify: A WordPress plug-in offered by Shopify to help you sync your Shopify store with your WordPress site
- BigCommerce: An independent e-commerce solution that offers enhanced e-commerce features
Overview of Magento
Magento is a platform designed primarily to help web owners build online stores. It was released in 2008 (five years after WordPress launch) and is now maintained by Adobe Inc. The Magento e-commerce platform offers many native e-commerce features, such as integrated payment gateways. It allows you to integrate third-party extensions to add functionality to your online store. It is perfect for people who want a robust and flexible online store.
As an enterprise-level e-commerce solution, Magento is suitable for building large international online stores. You can use the platform to create custom e-commerce websites that offer unique shopping experiences with support for various sales channels. It is an open-source platform (just like WordPress) and is highly scalable and customizable. It also offers support for numerous languages and currencies.
Features of WordPress
WordPress is a popular content management system due to its many benefits to website owners. Here is a quick rundown of the key features of WordPress and how they can help you as a website owner.
1. Content Management
A CMS (content management system) is a platform that allows you to manage your website content without technical knowledge. It eliminates the need to learn web development or any technical skills to perform website management activities such as creating, modifying, and deleting web content. The CMS is a basic infrastructure that handles all the technical aspects so you can easily manage your website. You can also use CMS for other functions, such as document management.
The WordPress CMS is a perfect example of how a CMS can make website publishing easier and faster. The WordPress CMS has an interface like your basic document creation software, such as Microsoft Word. You can create new pages and web posts by clicking a few buttons and adding your content to the page/post. WordPress offers a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor to tell how the page will look while creating/modifying it.
2. Themes and Templates
A WordPress theme is a design scheme that influences how your website looks and functions. A WordPress template, on the other hand, refers to a pre-designed layout that you can use to build a professional-looking website quickly. You can always change your website theme and design template. However, it is more common for website owners to change templates than themes since they can affect the site’s overall functionality, while templates are usually limited to specific web pages.
The default website theme offered by WordPress is boring for most website owners. These website owners often turn to themes offered by third-party developers such as ThemeForest. These third-party providers typically offer premium themes at a price and free versions, which often have limited functionality.
Plug-ins are third-party apps that add functionality to your website. Most plug-ins are designed for a single purpose, while others might serve two or more purposes. There are hounds of plug-ins serving different purposes, such as social media integration, SEO, or membership management. Like themes, there are free plug-ins and paid plug-ins. Because most plug-ins have access to your website core code, it is critical that you only install plug-ins from reputable sources and keep them updated at all times.
Some of the most downloaded plug-ins by website owners include:
- Yoast SEO: Almost every WordPress website owner uses Yoast SEO for search engine optimization. Simply put, the plug-in helps you improve your website’s SEO score. It also helps you follow best SEO practices, such as using the right keywords, adding meta descriptions to your pages, and ensuring readability. Yoast SEO is free to download; there are over 5 million installations so far.
- Jetpack: Website security is a big deal since WordPress website owners are responsible for their online security. The Jetpack plug-in is a solution that provides website security, helps with data backups, and helps you optimize your website for speed. It also has many other features, such as automated social media posting, spam filtering, and site analytics. There is a free version with limited features and three paid plans with more functionality.
- Akismet: Another popular plug-in is Akismet. It is a plug-in that automatically blocks spam comments such as malicious content and promotional links. It is a beneficial tool for websites that receive hundreds of daily comments.
4. E-commerce Functionality
WordPress, on its own, functions as a content management system. To enjoy the e-commerce functionality, you need to install an e-commerce plug-in. There are many kinds of e-commerce plug-ins available for WordPress websites. Some are free and offer support for unique sales models, such as digital downloads. In contrast, others are full-suite e-commerce solutions with payment integration and social media marketing.
The most downloaded e-commerce plug-in is WooCommerce. This plug-in allows you to convert your WordPress website into an e-commerce store. It offers many customization options and supports affiliate marketing, digital downloads, and multiple payment methods. It is a comprehensive online store plug-in designed to give full online store functionality to your website.
5. Security and Maintenance
You must use a fully managed WordPress hosting plan to be responsible for your website’s security and maintenance. Constant and robust security and maintenance will help protect your website content and prevent attacks from malicious actors. The most important aspect is to ensure your WordPress software and plug-ins are constantly updated. Using outdated software on your website can make your site vulnerable to risks on multiple fronts.
Aside from website security, you should also ensure that your website functions as it should. This process requires you to stay updated on all activities on your website. You should ensure there are no broken links and you don’t have any plug-ins dragging your website speed. Lastly, you should also apply common sense security tools such as using secure login details, limiting login attempts, and adding a captcha to your forms to discourage bots.
Features of Magento
Magento is a leading e-commerce solution for thousands of online store owners. The platform offers many tools and features, making it a top choice for anyone looking to boost sales and provide an enhanced customer shopping experience. Here are some of the top features of Magento.
1. E-commerce Functionality
Magento offers a lot of e-commerce capabilities, such as multiple checkout options, a shopping cart, and support for multiple payment options. A lengthy or glitchy checkout process can stifle sales and discourage customers. With Magento, you can allow your customers to buy multiple products and move to check out quickly. The software automatically adds each product to the shopping cart, reducing checkout times and improving the shopping experience.
The e-commerce platform also supports multiple payment options and e-commerce business models. You can use traditional payment options that require funds to come in immediately via channels such as credit cards and PayPal or delayed payment options such as cheques, money orders, or COD. This flexibility of payment options allows you to provide a payment option that aligns with your customer while reducing your risk of not receiving payment.
2. Scalability and Flexibility
Magento is famous for its flexibility and ability to handle increasing e-commerce sales and demand. You can scale the software to handle large volumes of data and web traffic without lag. You can also adapt the platform to meet the specific needs of your business. You can also use the administrative tool to leverage payment gateway support and manage your site data.
There are two Magento pricing packages: Adobe commerce pro and managed services. Both plans offer Adobe commerce application, core application support, single-tenant, dedicated infrastructure, deployment tools, dedicated staging environment, increased customization, 50 GB of testing, disaster recovery and data retention, varnish-based CDN, and other features. The Managed Services include exclusive features such as 30-minute SLT for P1, designated cloud infrastructure resource (customer success engineer), and planned event management support. These features provide all the tools and support you need to adapt and scale the Magento software to meet the growing needs of your business.
3. Catalog Management
Catalog management is a crucial aspect of e-commerce. Unfortunately, many e-commerce merchants struggle with catalog management for various reasons. Magento e-commerce allows these merchants to manage all their products and make more sales from a single catalog. This feature allows them to manage inventory, including physical and digital products.
With Magento, business owners can import and export catalogs in batches, manage digital products, add multiple images to a product, and offer descriptions and reviews. The catalog also provides search filters, product comparisons, and easy browsing. Other features include shipping options, catalog modifications, and payment options for each customer.
4. SEO and Marketing
Magento offers built-in SEO features to help you attract web traffic to your site. It provides tools and features to enable you to rank your website high in search engines via optimizing your site meta tags and keywords and implementing white hat SEO campaigns. This provision gives you enough control in optimizing your site for search engines such as Google and Yahoo. Other SEO features include search engine-friendly URLs, Google sitemaps, and auto-generation of popular search terms.
The platform also provides marketing tools to help you boost sales. You can use the platform to implement marketing strategies such as product promotions, newsletters, and coupon codes. You can also integrate your online store with social media accounts and other marketing channels. Other marketing tools include cross-selling, price variation, polls, and coupon management.
5. Security and Maintenance
Online security is crucial for online stores since any data breach can put their clients in serious trouble and ruin the brand’s reputation. Magento e-commerce software provides tools to help you secure your store and retain your customers’ trust. Some of these tools include two-factor authentication (2FA) and Google ReCaptcha. You can also enhance society for specific pages by restricting access to owner users with login details.
One crucial process for keeping your Magento online store secure is to constantly update the core software. Hackers are constantly looking for vulnerabilities that they can exploit. By constantly updating the software, you will take advantage of newer security patches that will keep your website secure. You should also react swiftly to common Magento issues and errors.
Comparison of WordPress and Magento
Magento vs. WordPress: which is best? WordPress and Magento share some differences and similarities. We will discuss these similarities and differences under the following headings.
1. Ease of Use
WordPress is easier to use because it is a beginner-friendly platform. Anyone can build a website using WordPress software without any prior knowledge. There is also a lot of community support and dedicated support from web hosts for WordPress website owners. Some web hosts offer web hosting plans preinstalled and optimized for WordPress.
Magento, on the other hand, is designed for professional online businesses. So while beginners can use the WordPress software independently, businesses must hire developers to design Magento-based e-commerce stores. Some web hosts also offer support for Magento installation in addition to WordPress installation. However, it is not as robust as WordPress support. WordPress is the better option if you have no technical background and want to create a website quickly.
2. Cost and Pricing
WordPress and Magento are open-source software that are free to download and use. However, you will need to pay for website hosting and domain registration. You may also need to spend funds on paid themes, add-ons, and any extra functionality you need for your website. If you are hiring a developer, you must add developer fees to your budget. This way, the costs of using Magento and WordPress are equal.
When it comes to actual costs, WordPress is a cheaper alternative in many ways. First, the cost of hiring WordPress developers and buying premium themes tends to be lower than that for Magento developers and themes. If you are building a WordPress website, you can avoid developer fees by using a drag-and-drop website builder. This method is unlikely for a Magento website as the platform is more complex than WordPress.
WordPress is a blogging system software. It is primarily designed as a content management system to help website owners and bloggers create and manage web pages and blog posts. To add e-commerce functionality to your website, you need to install an e-commerce plug-in. Thankfully, you can use hundreds of free and paid plug-ins to create an online store on WordPress.
Magento, on the other hand, is a powerful platform for designing professional online stores. The software has built-in e-commerce tools such as checkouts, product page management, inventory management, and other features to allow you to start selling without installing any other plug-in. If you want to start an online store as a small business with minimal capital, Magento can be overkill due to its powerful e-commerce features. However, for large businesses that require a fully functional and integrated online store, Magento is the better option.
4. Scalability and Flexibility
Both WordPress and Magento offer unlimited scalability and flexibility. Thanks to the plug-ins created for various functions, there is literally no functionality you cannot add to a WordPress website. Many of these features are free. Even the paid ones offer free/trial versions.
Magento also offers flexibility and can be scaled to meet the needs of large businesses. Magento’s edge over WordPress is that the platform (Magento) is designed for robust online stores. As such, it is the option for businesses that need an effective online store due to their large traffic volume. WordPress is scalable, but you must install a premium (paid) e-commerce plug-in to enjoy full scalability.
5. Marketing Capabilities
WordPress is the better option when it comes to SEO and marketing. The reason is that WordPress is a content management system. As such, you can incorporate as much content and media as you like to rank for relevant keywords within your niche. There are also hundreds of marketing tools and integrations that you can use for your website marketing.
Conversely, Magento focuses more on providing an e-commerce solution, so implementing SEO techniques will require more effort. For instance, if you want to add a blog to your Magento online store. You will need to use a custom blogging extension. Thankfully, Magento offers some inbuilt SEO functionalities, such as the ability to add titles and alt text to every image.
6. Maintenance and Security Measures
E-commerce websites often receive card information from their customers, so they must be highly secure. Magento is an e-commerce-specific solution that offers robust security measures to protect website content and customer data. However, WordPress also offers the same level of security. If you are trying to make a pick based on security, both platforms will do fine for e-commerce and general purposes.
It is important to note that website security depends heavily on your web hosting provider and security measures. Secure web hosting providers offer security tools such as SSL certificates, anti-DDoS protection, and malware removal. As a website owner, you should ensure your software and apps are always fully updated. If you choose a fully managed hosting plan, your web host will handle those aspects for you.
Pros and Cons of WordPress
Even though WordPress is easily the first choice for millions of websites worldwide, it is not perfect. It offers its share of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore some benefits and drawbacks of using the WordPress CMS to develop e-commerce websites.
The advantages of using WordPress include the following:
- User-friendly: WordPress is user-friendly software for beginners and developers. The basic interface is intuitive. Thanks to its easy-to-use content management system, anyone can learn to create and update pages/posts after a few trials. This point is the strongest in the WordPress vs. Magento debate.
- Community support: A large community of developers and website owners constantly provides support to other users. The community answers questions, provides feedback, and alerts others to any possible threat facing WordPress websites.
- Free to use: The WordPress CMS is open source and free for everyone. This feature can significantly reduce the costs of starting and maintaining a website. And with website builders, you can further reduce the cost.
- Versatility: WordPress is suitable for all kinds of websites. The platform has been used to develop blogs, educational portals, e-commerce websites, and others.
The disadvantages of using WordPress include the following:
- Limited e-commerce functionality: WordPress in itself is a content management system. As such, it has minimal built-in e-commerce functionality. You can resolve this by using third-party e-commerce plug-ins such as WooCommerce.
- Maintenance: As a website owner, you are responsible for regularly updating your software and your plug-ins. Failure to do so will expose your website to performance lag and all manner of vulnerabilities.
- Limited customization: The degree of customization you get on a WordPress website depends on the plug-ins and theme you use. Usually, only paid themes and plug-ins offer the best customization options.
- Reliance on plug-ins: The biggest drawback to WordPress is that it is heavily reliant on plug-ins for functionality. Even blogging, which is the primary purpose of the WordPress CMS, requires plug-ins for advanced features.
Pros and Cons of Magento
Magento is an open-source e-commerce-specific platform. The software offers many benefits, particularly to e-commerce store owners, but it also has drawbacks. Let’s explore some of the advantages and disadvantages of using Magento.
Here are some of the benefits of using Magento:
- E-commerce features: Magento offers powerful built-in e-commerce features such as payment gateway integration, shipping options, and catalog management. These features make it a perfect choice for large online sales businesses.
- Scalability: Magento is highly scalable and can be adapted to meet the needs of any e-commerce website. It can also handle large volumes of data and traffic without performance lag.
- Customization: Magento has built-in e-commerce features that you can customize to your needs. The platform also supports third-party extensions and integrations to allow you further adapt the system to your unique needs.
- SEO: Although Magento is not a CMS like WordPress, it still offers SEO tools and settings to help you boost your site rankings. You can also integrate third-party apps to boost your marketing efforts.
Here are some of the drawbacks of using Magento:
- Complexity: Magento is a complex website software with a steep learning curve. Due to its complex user interface, beginners who have yet to gain experience building websites will struggle to use the Magento platform independently.
- High maintenance: A Magento website requires advanced setup and maintenance skills. This feature makes it prohibitive for personal and small-budget use.
- Fees: While WordPress is free, certain aspects of Magento require fees. One such feature is the Enterprise edition which requires licensing fees before using it.
- Limited customization options: Although Magento is an enterprise-level e-commerce platform, the available customization options depend on the owner’s or developer’s technical skills. As such, someone with limited technical resources, such as small businesses, will get limited customization options.
Magento is an ideal website builder for an e-commerce store because it offers robust features and tools required to create exceptional shopping experiences for customers. WordPress, on the other hand, is more focused on content management. You will need to use a lot of plug-ins and external tools to get the same user experience as you can get with the Magento platform. However, there are cases where using WordPress is better than using Magento.
For instance, beginners and small businesses that want a functional e-commerce store without much stress or high cost will find WordPress a better option. At the same time, growing businesses that require a flexible and scalable solution will get more out of Magento. The best option depends on what you want to focus on, your skill level, and your budget. You can also choose to combine both platforms in a single website.
Next Steps: What Now?
- Read up on the best web hosting providers
- Check out how Cloudways offers support for Magento and WordPress