The Headless CMS Comparison: Episerver (Now Optimizely) vs Agility CMS

Episerver (Optimizely) and Alternatives: Agility CMS

Joel Varty
Joel Varty
May 14, 2021
Headless CMS Episerver (Now Optimizely) vs Agility CMS

The headless CMS is full of worthy contenders, and for us, it’s important to be able to cut through the noise and give you the tools to make an informed decision. In this Headless CMS Showdown, we compare Episerver and Agility CMS. Building an appealing, functioning website requires two things. First, the ability to create eye-catching digital experiences, and second, the ability to maintain what you've created. Keeping your content in top shape, especially when you have many different sites, can become a mammoth task that simply can't be done without a CMS.

But with hundreds of CMSs, both headless and traditional, choosing the right one for your company becomes a chore that confuses even the most tech-savvy decision-maker.

Then there's the age-old question. Should I choose a CMS that caters primarily to developers or content editors? At Agility CMS, we believe you can —and should— have the best of both worlds with any CMS you choose.

Episerver has been in the CMS game since 1996 and is one of the most popular enterprise solutions for content management in the market. Yet Agility CMS has proven to be a worthy contender and a fast learner, growing to become one of the most liked CMSs on the market.

To help you navigate the treacherous waters of the CMS ocean, we created a new segment called The Headless CMS Showdown. Here we give users an overview of Agility CMS and another top headless CMS on the market. In this showdown, we pitch Episerver against Agility CMS and compare both CMSs to see which emerges victorious. Let's start with the comparison.

Episerver Product Overview

Episerver (Optimizely) is an API-first hybrid CMS based on the .NET framework and SQL databases.

EPI Optimizely website screenshot on

Episerver provides users with built-in editorial and administrative functionality, including content preview, approval workflows, localization and multilanguage support, and access control.

Episerver serves as the foundation for the users' digital experiences and can be installed both as an on-premise solution or in the cloud. Episerver's content delivery API enables users to leverage the CMS capabilities as both a coupled or decoupled solution, facilitating a fully headless, traditional, or hybrid approach.

Plus, like Agility CMS, Episerver enables users to build applications and websites using any frontend framework or library using APIs.

Agility CMS Product Overview

Agility CMS evolved from a .NET-based CMS to become a Jamstack-ready, API-first headless CMS designed with speed and flexibility in mind. It provides users with the tools to build, manage, and maintain their content with ease.

Agility cms website screenshot

Agility CMS lets authors and editors create and customize their digital experiences by following the content-first approach to building digital experiences with low friction. Traditional development processes begin with design, and prototyping, for example, the final layout of a web page with lorem ipsum text as placeholders. Agility CMS begins the development process by defining the organization's content architecture and then developing layout and styling for desired channels.

The platform also has a rich and deep set of powerful features to power your omnichannel experiences. Most headless CMS platforms offer workflow functionality for approvals, publication scheduling, and similar needs. Agility also includes an HTML and text email builder that can be tied to workflow triggers. It provides multi-site functionality, linking the same content and user permissions across multiple sites.

Agility has robust analytics and convenient report generation built-in. Website search is a capability built into the platform rather than requiring third-party services like Algolia. On the hosting side, Agility CMS leverages Microsoft Azure's hosting services and provides users with enterprise-grade security and support and data protection.

Why Agility CMS?

When compared with Episerver, Agility CMS has two main strengths. The first is its speed and ability to get you up and running fast. Unlike other CMSs out there, Agility CMS gives you the tools you need out-of-the-box, which reduces the need for third-party integrations. Episerver, on the contrary, albeit strong out of the box, has been known to have a steeper learning curve than Agility CMS and other hybrid CMSs on the market. Also, Agility CMS is a solution designed with growth in mind. This means that users and companies can start small and scale their online operations with ease and without the constraints of entering headfirst into an agreement with an enterprise solution provider and then find out that it isn't cut to your expectations.

Let's take a look at the reasons why Agility CMS is a better choice than Episerver.

Episerver vs Agility CMS

Free Version

At Agility, we believe that it's necessary to give users a free version of our CMS to help them get started and see what we have to offer. Our free plan offers potential users unlimited content types, 2,500 content items, access to up to five users, and community support.

Episerver doesn't offer users a free version of the software and doesn't have a transparent pricing policy that shows users what they can get from the software in a clear and friendly way. Plus, Episerver DXP doesn't offer a free trial version, making it impossible for users to get a taste of the software before they have to purchase it.

Unlimited Content Models + Types

The number of different content schemas you can define within Agility is unlimited. This way you need to worry only about the perfect content architecture - not the pricing plan limits.

Unlimited Number of API Request

Agility's CMS offers users an unlimited number of API requests starting from its Standard Plan, giving you unlimited users and content items. On the other hand, Episerver doesn't offer an unlimited number of API requests.

The Verdict

The truth is that Episerver and Agility CMS have many things in common and check many of the same boxes in reviews, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, Agility CMS is a better option for users. Both Episerver and Agility CMS are .NET-based hybrid CMSs that have visual editors, and both support both developers and content editors.

However, Agility CMS has certain advantages over Episerver. Agility CMS has a transparent pricing policy and shows every prospective user what he or she can get from the platform. Episerver has always catered to enterprise users. It also suffers from the drawbacks enterprise companies face, namely a lack of flexibility and agility when it comes to rolling out new features and giving support. Even though Episerver has been on the market for longer, Agility offers better support and faster onboarding.

Plus, Agility has been making waves in the CMS sector, supporting the Jamstack architecture as well as new frontend frameworks and libraries, and has been named a leader by G2, which means that the user community has shown the platform its support; it is also a show of growth potential and user acceptance.

If you're still confused about what a headless CMS is and does, take a look at our guide, How To Choose The Best Headless CMS For Your Brand (2020 Edition).

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