Webinar: Never Build your website from scratch again
WEBINAR: Never build your website from scratch again!REGISTER

A comparison of WordPress vs. Headless CMS

If you feel that your recent projects push the limits of your CMS, it might be time to start learning more about Headless solutions. 

Joel Varty
Joel Varty
February 10, 2020
Wordpress vs Agility CMS

Many people think of WordPress when they think of CMS. WordPress has a significant share of the market and has been around for many years.

There are many benefits to going with Wordpress. But, as developer and blogger Kira Leigh put it in her article titled "This is why Wordpress sucks and you should probably stop using it": "With a Wordpress website, small businesses don't have to worry about editing static pages or messing with Laravel or something else that has a steeper learning curve. Wordpress is also free and comes standard with most hosting plans." 

Wordpress is an excellent solution if you need an inexpensive blog, lots of plugins, and a WYSIWYG editor. Wordpress is quick to set up. But if you need to create a website that can last and grow with you as your brand grows, then you need to consider a change.

If you feel that your recent projects push the limits of your CMS, it might be time to start learning more about Headless solutions. 

Let's take these two leading CMS platforms and compare them side by side: WordPress as a Traditional (or Legacy) CMS vs. Agility CMS as one of the first original Headless CMSs in the market.

Comparing Wordpress vs. Agility CMS

1. The overall approach to content management: Website First vs Content first. 

2. The ability to save and optimize your precious time and resources.

3. The performance and reliability of your website. 

4. Security of your website and your data.

5. The overall experience for both developers and editors.

1. Website vs Content. What is the Content First Approach?

First things first: WordPress and Agility CMS are fundamentally different on a methodology level.

In a headless CMS like Agility CMS, you start with the content: you strategize, organize it, build content relationships and then send the content via headless APIs to any destination – website, mobile app, email marketing, and more. The sky's the limit.

Content Architecture is the first step. Hence, the Content First approach preached by Agility CMS is the main differentiator. 

Do you believe in the benefits of the Content First approach? We do. Even if you start by thinking about the design, you can still implement a Content First approach. 

With Wordpress, which is a Traditional CMS product, the website is closely connected to the content. You create a website first.

Hence, the "Website First" approach.

You might think Content First sounds backwards, and that Headless CMS makes the problem more difficult. Starting with the Content Architecture may seem like a complicated process. Not at all. Many of our users are surprised how easy it is and how much it makes their lives easier later on.

"Agility is pretty easy to use. You don't need a lot of training to complete simple tasks like updating a page for your site or posting a blog; its interface compiles everything you need to manage your website organized and easy to find. It requires little coding knowledge in order to have the website up and running. It has useful prebuilt tools that you can use and customize to do what you want to do with your content and the schedule function even in the little components is a game-changer for me." Joseph F, Web Developer, G2 Crowd Reviewer 

In a Website-First approach, marketers and content creators/editors need to wait for the website to be ready before they can work on content. You go to the website to edit its content. This process may seem like a good thing - it's easy to find where to go to make changes - however, it does have a pretty big set of drawbacks. Mainly, it slows you down in the long run. Let me explain to you why.

2. How can a Content First Approach make things FASTER?

You save time in the long run if you start with the Content First approach. Especially if you choose JAMStack as the development platform. Why? Let's investigate.

A headless CMS is API-driven so you can build your "head" (presentation layer/front-end) in any manner you choose. Developers can develop the way they're used to without having to conform to any proprietary development constraints. A single content item can be reused and combined with several different presentation outputs. Projects are completed and launch faster.

"What I love about Agility CMS is that it has everything you need to make your website work, its panel has good functionalities that help you build easily whatever you need. It also lets you make a page not public without having to lose its content, and the staging links are such an awesome way to wait for my clients' approval. File management is super easy and helpful as a hosting/uploading tool local to our web pages. And the clone option for full pages or just modules really makes doing repetitive work like product pages faster." Elvis R, Lead Developer, G2 Crowd Reviewer

Do you like Building from Scratch?

In a Traditional CMS setting, your website and your content are tightly coupled. They are linked in a way that means when you want to change your website front-end, you need to rebuild things from scratch. 

With Agility CMS, you never have to build a website from scratch. Your content is still nicely organized and can be sent to any destination. Using JAMStack you can replace only a few pages.

There are techniques that allow developers to get going with JAMStack on an existing site. We're working with customers and partners who have large, monolithic websites. They are using JAMStack to selectively improve the more important sections of these sites on a page by page basis. You don't have to rebuild your site from scratch if you don't want to.

Because of Agility's approach to Content Modelling and Page Management, developers can write more reusable code and give editors the power to maintain more control over the website.

3. What CMS will give you the highest Performance & Reliability?

Also, as Wordpress sites age over time, they tend to get slower and slower. There's a database you need to look after as well - there's technical overhead. And a new version seems to come out really often, mostly to address security issues. There's a huge plugin library, too, but you often find yourself in a situation where those plugins have security issues, or they don't work well together.

When creating JAMStack sites using Agility CMS, they are statically generated, so they are incredibly fast. No web server needs to be scaled or maintained, and these static files can be delivered quickly over a global CDN - which means the response times are exceptionally quick. Further to that, JAMStack frameworks like Gatsby.js and Next.js are really good at bundling pages up into small chunks, so the actual files themselves are smaller and more responsive - everything just FEELS faster. 

Because of Agility's approach to Content Modelling and Page Management, developers can write more reusable code and give editors the power to maintain more control over the website.

4. What CMS provides most Security to your website?

Since there's no web-server delivering your static files, and nothing is being computed in order to deliver your web pages, JAMStack sites powered by headless CMS like Agility are on a whole new level in terms of being secure. There simply isn't an entry point for a hacker to attack, such as exists on traditional web servers.

Even better, things like distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks are much less of a problem, since most CDN services such as Azure, AWS, Cloudflare, and Stackpath also include things like a web app firewall (WAF), making it much easy to thwart these attacks. JAMStack sets you up for success.

5. What CMS provides the best experience for both developers and editors?

Agility CMS is one of the best Headless CMS platforms because it provides a great experience for both editors and developers to manage and deploy content to any channel, in any language.

Let me explain why these two features of Agility CMS are so unique and so valuable.

Agility CMS is the best Headless CMS for Content Architecture & Content Relationships

Agility CMS allows you to create a sophisticated structure with your content that is easy for content editors to work with. It also helps your content adhere to certain rules that are important to your business. 

For instance, it could be that you have a product catalog with 2 levels of categorization, and you want to enforce what those categories are.

Add in the ability to create content in multiple languages, and to map the structure across languages, and your Content Architecture becomes an incredibly valuable asset.

Agility CMS is the Best Headless CMS with Page Management 

Why is it important? Because it allows your content editors to manage not only the content but also the structure of your website.

"Agility compiles all the necessary tools to manage my website easily and in one place. It allows me to create different templates to manage all sections of my website without compromising my creativity and ideas. Also, it allows me to store my files and have secure links to them, and redirections to foreign web pages or other pages of my own site are easily made. Overall, this tool is amazing if you want to build a solid and appealing web page." Maria L, Web Developer, G2 Crowd Reviewer

Agility CMS allows your developers to define Page Templates and Modules. These allow content editors to determine what content appears on each page of the site. Editors also have the ability to add and remove pages from the sitemap for each channel.

Each sitemap and page is exposed to the developer as a JSON object, allowing the developer to write reusable components to render each Page Template and Module as it appears on the page.

In most Headless CMS products, developers hard-code the sitemap, locking it in place, and often have to pre-determine page structures. This means a content editor can't control those things as they change over time.

Agility CMS empowers editor to do more, and for developers to write much more reusable code.

What truly makes Agility CMS better than Wordpress?

It is its content-first approach with full APIs to access and display content in any way desired. With this approach, a headless CMS enables you to author your content through the RESTful API and deliver that content wherever you need it. This way, your front end is not limited to a website – think of smartwatch, mobile app, POS.

It means your content has a lot more value since it can be used in more places.

Also, you can rebuild your website or your apps, and keep using the same content. 

It's just a new front-end design. It puts you in a situation where your investment in your content has a lot more value.

That's why more web developers are switching to headless offerings like Agility CMS.

Want to learn more about Traditional CMS like Wordpress vs Headless CMS like Agility CMS? Enjoy this fun 3-minute video:


Next steps?

If you're a developer, we encourage you to set up a Free Account and to try out using Gatsby.js or other JAMStack frameworks to output your content. Our help site has great tutorials to get you started.

If you are a team leader, we encourage any organization to get in touch with us to learn more about our Content-First approach to digital transformation. 

We believe strongly in educating digital leaders in this approach to help them be more successful. We can help you get started on a website rebuild without having to start completely from scratch. We've helped our customers create Content Architectures that have become the foundation for their websites that have lasted for years.

Keep Reading  

If you want to learn more about why Agility CMS is faster, make sure you read these articles:

Back to All Articles