Magento vs WordPress is seemingly a question that keeps on being awaken overtime. So we’d like to throw in our 2 cents and make this much clearer to you. Note that Shopify, Demandware and the likes are not included here because those are not self-hosted platform solutions – they follow the subscription-based model, you pay monthly to get things going.
First, there’s no direct point of comparison between the two because WordPress is a CMS (once a blog tool and have grown to become a top CMS), Magento is an ecommerce shop CMS. However, WordPress can become an ecommerce shop CMS if you’re to integrate an ecommerce plugin like WooCommerce, JigoShop, etc. Frankly, WooCommerce is the better choice among those WordPress ecommerce plugins. So for point of comparison with Magento, it would be proper to refer to it as WordPress+WooCommerce vs Magento. Let’s call WordPress+WooCommerce here as WWC.
Now, WWC vs Magento being better than the other really depends on the reader. The reader could be a shop owner who has no programming knowledge but can install, apply a theme, and other basic configurations. On the other hand, the reader could be a web developer who knows PHP. Web developers can be shop owners, too. So, shop owners who are themselves web developers do have the upper hand.
THE SHOP OWNER
Shop owners usually don’t have much idea as to which is better, especially those who are just vying to become an internetpreneur. Both ecommerce options are good. They can install both easily from their hosting account, apply a free or premium theme (coming from theme shops), change header logo, body, sidebar and footer contents, add products, configure tax and shipping rates, add payment engine, and you’re good to go. Just be sure that you have SSL (secured socket layer) in your hosting account to help establish better security and consequently earn trust from your online buyers.
Now, extending your ecommerce shops to satisfy more specific needs is where it differs a bit. Assuming you want a way for your customers to compare products. In this case, you’ll look for plugins/extensions. In WWC, you’ll find several free plugins (from the huge wordpress community) that can satisfy that requirement, there are also premium plugins (paid) that offers the same but with better technical support. Installation is easy, the shop owner can, in fact, do it themselves without external help. In Magento, you can also do that via Magento Connect, but expect less FREE plugin selections relevant to your requirement. Why? because there’s a very large 3rd party developer support in WordPress than in Magento, it’s an undeniable fact. Nevertheless, there are equally good premium extensions you’ll find in there. Bottom line, you tend to spend more with Magento because of the limited options already mentioned.
For the sake of some readers, themes/templates are like dresses that you make your shop wear and all pages will adopt to the new look. It’s like giving your shop brand new aesthetics that satisfy your needs. Both have equally available choices of themes/templates, be it free or premium. However, themes/templates for Magento are twice as expensive as compared to WWC.
AESTHETIC VARIETY ON PRODUCT CATEGORIES
Applying a different page look for every product category is where Magento excels. For WWC, the theme applies to and consistent across all products categories. Though it can be changed in WWC, it would involve programming, but, this is the shop-owners’ point of view, not the programmers point of view.
Both have their own style of user interface. However, everyone knows that WWC has better admin interface than Magento. It’s in fact, the very secret that make WordPress (and Woocommerce) a continuing success. Easy to understand, not much tiered pages. The user interface is very friendly, easy to follow. As for Magento, it’s web developer friendly, so many subpages that, most of the time, leave you in some sort of a labyrinth wondering where you are already, even if you’re a web developer.
MULTIPLE ONLINE PRESENCE
eBay acquired Magento for over USD180 million (back in 2011), so your shop in eBay can be synchronized with your products and inventory in your Magento shop. Isn’t that cool? This is where Magento excels.
Both can scale up to extended needs such as integration of POS and ERP software. Modern Retail, among others, provides software extensions for both. So, they’re equally good in terms of scalability.
At some point in time, you might require customization that only programmers can do. Because of WordPress huge community, you can easily get a WordPress developer at low-cost. As for Magento developers, get ready for huge expenses.
Now comes the developers’ point of view. We focus more on which are sometimes vaguely understood. Read on.
I don’t know if every developer knows it, and I believe it’s worth mentioning. WWC is under GPL v3 (or later) while Magento is under OSL 3. That simply means that WWC is under free software license, which guarantees end users (individuals, organizations, companies) the “freedom” to run, study, share (copy), and modify the software, but, your derivative works must also be under GPL and you must make your source code available. When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price, so you can charge for customization (the source code of the derivative work) if you want.
On the other hand, Magento being under the open-source license, means it’s also under copyleft software, wherein your derivative works must also be licensed under OSL 3 because OSL 3 is a reciprocal OSL. However, it doesn’t attempt to force you to disclose the source code of your work, and you can also charge a fee for providing the source code.
Magento was built following the MVC (model view controller) programming design pattern. It uses bits out of different components from different frameworks like Zend Framework 1 and 2, Symfony, and tiny parts in Angular, and call it the Magento Framework. Though it struggles creating its own evolving framework identity, it still is based on MVC concept and that’s good for developers who are well-acquainted with developing using MVC programming pattern.
On the other hand, WordPress uses event-driven architecture. To insert or change a behavior of an event, you inject functions or override existing functions. WordPress has set of functions you can make use to make things easier and programming standards so your program will not end up like a quick-hack spaghetti program. And even if you try to implement MVC, you’re still going to have to utilize the hook system.
DOCUMENTATION & LEARNING CURVE
Programming in WordPress is easier because there is a complete online documentation on top of the very large community documentations, wikis, forums and stackexchanges on how to get things done. The community members help each other and I love it.
As for Magento, not everything is made available for you online, that means you might find yourself struggling as to how you can get a simple function done the right way. You see, you’ll have to really enroll on their courses and get those certifications that you may be rendered a certified Magento professional, like Magento Certified Solutions Specialist, Front-end Developer Solution Specialist, Certified Developer and Developer Plus, among others. Fundamentals of Magento 2 Development alone would already cost you around USD3k, click here to learn more, not to mention the other pertinent courses down the line.
So it really depends on what kind of programmer you are – if you’ve got very deep pocket, go for Magento. The reward — it could get you highly-budgeted projects from big companies, the likes of implemented projects using Hybris, Oracle/ATG or IBM Websphere Commerce. Just be sure to advertise yourself well (online marketing) so your investment will be worthwhile.
Both requires that you know PHP. While WordPress additionally requires that you know their basic programming concepts and familiarity with their functions, Magento additionally requires that you know MVC, such as Zend Framework. Everyone loves MVC, so do I.
You must know your long-term goals and your budget, that would dictate as to which you should invest your time/money on.
Likewise, you’ll have to know if the software company behind the software is stable (in its vision) – it could affect your long-term decisions, as well. Though Magento keeps on being tossed around (from Varien Inc. to eBay, then spun out as being independent again having Permira Private Equity Fund as the new owner), it seems to be stable for now, but vulnerable to the owner’s vision that could be in conflict with Magento’s original and intended vision. Key staff started leaving in 2012 and the founder left in 2014. So, its future is increasingly cloudy. WordPress seems to be stable so far being largely maintained by WordPress Foundation and by the huge community.