Umbraco vs Sitecore: Everything you need to know

Umbraco or Sitecore? As a digital web agency, we’re often asked which CMS is better - and while both are excellent CMS platforms, trusted by some of the world’s largest enterprises, there are some key differences.

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Having already compared Umbraco and WordPress, in this blog, we’ll aim to set out some of the benefits and differences of Umbraco and Sitecore, starting with a brief overview of the origins of both CMS platforms - and a look at who they are designed for.

What is Umbraco?

Founded in Denmark in 2000, Umbraco is known for its simplicity and almost limitless potential. It’s free to use with no additional licenses or fees - while its flexible framework and functionality are designed to support growth, making it a fully scalable, secure and future-proof solution. Find out more about “what is Umbraco?” here.

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Who is Umbraco for?

Umbraco CMS is deployed by some of the largest global corporations, including Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, Carlsberg Group and J.P. Morgan, wanting a sophisticated web solution that will scale with the business to withstand growth and high volumes of traffic. However, as its system is free and open source, it’s also an excellent solution for SMEs who simply want to showcase their online presence without the need for a dedicated IT department.

What is Sitecore?

Launched in 2001, also in Denmark, Sitecore carries a license fee and was designed to allow multiple websites to function under one roof, creating a seamless online ecosystem which combines content, commerce and data in one connected platform.

The key differences


The first major difference between these two platforms comes down to how they are acquired. Umbraco believes that good software should be made available to a wide range of user groups and uses an open-source platform; its licenses are entirely free with optional third-party plugins and extensions at an additional cost.

Sitecore is a closed-source, commercial software platform, which requires a paid-for license and across its different pricing tiers, users can access a range of pre-built features. 2020 prices started at £48,000 with an ongoing license fee each year.

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Programming language

The fundamental technology of both platforms is similar. Both are written in C# and deployed on Microsoft’s .NET framework, but the amount of computing power needed is hugely different; Umbraco can be run from a small web server while Sitecore is designed to scale to millions of users from the start.

Simplicity & ease of use

The ability to use a content management system to carry out basic tasks is an important consideration when selecting the right platform. 

  • With a single installer that does everything, Umbraco has out-of-the-box functionality and a quick, intuitive, setup that requires little architecture planning. Dubbed "The Friendly CMS”, it's easy for non-technical users to edit and content manage websites, with minimal training and no need for coding knowledge.
  • Sitecore is a more complicated system, with multiple databases, features and modules, designed to scale to handle complex websites. Rather than a simple, one-off install process, users must carefully consider their specific CMS requirements beforehand and consider that it is a long-term investment in time and training for users.
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Choosing a CMS solution with the flexibility to adapt through growth, handle increasing volumes of web traffic and adapt to new technologies is essential for most businesses.

  • One of Umbraco’s major benefits lies in its future-proof framework. Scalability is made easy through a range of API integrations, plugins and feature extensions which are fully customisable to meet the needs of the business as it grows while Umbraco Cloud allows more memory and disk space to be added to the website as requirements change and the volume of traffic increases. Read more about Umbraco’s Scalability here.

  • Sitecore’s features allow users to launch and maintain multiple or large websites simultaneously and a hosting solution, Sitecore Managed Cloud, means users can easily scale environments and applications as their needs evolve. 
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Flexibility & Personalisation

Umbraco’s framework makes (almost) anything possible during the development of a web build. Its flexible (coded) extension capability and web developer-friendly technology, makes it easy to add new features and customise existing ones, paving the way for a bespoke website, designed the way you want it.

Sitecore is a good choice for clients looking for a tool that allows for collaboration and design freedom. Its technical features means different teams can work simultaneously by reusing templates, layouts, and components across many sites.

Third Party Tools

Through Umbraco’s built-in API package library and ‘app store’, users can download and install new features, for integration with third party systems including ecommerce, event booking systems and CRMs.

As part of its high license fee, Sitecore comes with a range of built-in products, software tools and other functionalities which removes the need to rely on third-party software or plugin, thus reducing the chance for these to compromise security.

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Web Developers

Umbraco’s open source flexibility gives developers freedom to create dynamic, beautiful, integrated websites running multiple applications without compromising on performance. With quick and easy access to new features and releases as well as technical and creative training and support, developers have the opportunity for continual learning and improvement.

Since Sitecore’s source code is locked down, even license holders cannot deviate from the core software. However, the depth of personalisation and customisation available in its range of pre-installed features will give most web developers everything they need, together with dedicated technical support.

Working with an Umbraco Registered Partner

Each business has a unique set of requirements when it comes to deciding which CMS platform is best for them, depending on the size of the business, goals, CMS experience and budget.

As Umbraco Registered Partners, we have developed a deep understanding of the power and potential Umbraco has for clients of all types and sizes. We combine that knowledge with our hands-on expertise and experience to give our clients a world-class online presence they can be proud of, for years to come.

If you’re looking for a brand-new Umbraco website or to move your existing site from Sitecore (or any other platform) to Umbraco, speak to one of our Umbraco Certified Developer experts today.

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