There’s a slew of content management systems (CMS) with different features and benefits that can help you develop and build your own website.
The choice on which one to use depends on a variety of factors because implementing a CMS isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.
If you’re looking to set up your new site, two of the popular CMS options are Adobe Business Catalyst – an all-in-one hosted CMS and SaaS proprietary – and
WordPress, a free and open-source blogging tool CMS.
In this comparison piece, we’re going to consider both CMS platforms and help you discover which one is best for your needs.
Let’s look at each of them individually, and then compare them based on certain features to see how they stack up against each other.
Note: Adobe Business Catalyst will be discontinued from March 2021, so we’ve included a short guide on how to migrate your site to an alternative platform.
Since its acquisition, many of its users thought Adobe would update a lot of stuff, but it didn’t happen as fast as they’d hoped it would.
They just hadn’t innovated enough.
In more recent times though, the company picked up their game, rolled out a few new features, while resolving some things that frustrated developers, and threw in some mobile responsive templates too.
Users who have experience with both Business Catalyst and WordPress, and have seen the various scenarios that play out in web projects are pretty sure about which CMS may be a better choice for particular sites.
Sadly though, Business Catalyst will be discontinued and shut down on March 26th, 2021.
Adobe made the announcement that it won’t take on any more users, meaning the current users have until March 2021 to migrate Business Catalyst or find a new platform and host for their businesses.
This means that from March 26th 2020, all sites on the platform will no longer be live or accessible to the public, or to its site admins.
All their data will also be deleted, and tech support will be limited until then, with higher priority given to off-the-platform migration, security, compliance, and availability issues.
While this isn’t a pleasant experience, you can leverage the opportunity to instead grow your business by picking alternative, easy-to-use solutions like WordPress, which has more features.
What is Adobe Business Catalyst?
This is a hosted application that allows businesses to create, build, and manage online businesses using integrated marketing tools.
The unified platform lets web designers build anything from a simple but amazing website, to powerful online stores without back-end coding.
Although the software is being shut down, the cost of using it was dependent on the size of the website and traffic levels, which can be a few dollars a month and up – a cost that can be passed on to clients.
The all-in-one CMS helps its customers, ranging from businesses to digital agencies, manage their ecommerce and websites better, while integrating service, sales, and marketing features.
Business Catalyst Features
Here are the main features you can get in Adobe Business Catalyst CMS:
Ecommerce: This feature is fairly capable, but integrations and extensions require programming via APIs. Built-in support is available for most major shipping carriers, as well as for gift vouchers and coupons.
CMS and blog: This is part of Business Catalyst’s core software.
It’s very flexible and easy to maintain, plus it’s almost fully integrated with other features, which makes it easy to share or reuse content.
A blog is also available though it’s fairly crude when compared to WordPress.
Email marketing: This fairly robust feature is also included with the core software but doesn’t integrate with MailChimp or Constant Contact.
You can design and manage custom templates within the admin interface and upload templates developed externally with support for responsive design.
Customer database: This is another core software component that’s easy to maintain and integrates well with other built-in features.
Although the default fields are limited, you can extend it easily via custom CRM forms.
Contact forms: Also within the core software is a built-in web form builder.
It’s moderately customizable, powerful, and well integrated with built-in support for payment processing, workflows, and anti-spam Google ReCaptcha tool.
SEO: Business Catalyst’s SEO support is built-in with the page editor, though there’s no guidance on per-post or per-page.
This means you need professional SEO knowledge to use it. Plus, its basic analytics and reporting still relies on Google Analytics.
Event management: A built-in basic booking system and event calendar is available, integrated in the core software with support for payment processing.
Reporting: Business Catalyst offers a built-in dashboard with traffic statistics for one week of activity.
The reports include sales, email campaign activity, secure zone logins, orders, and form submissions.
Menus/navigation: A built-in basic menu and navigation function is available. It’s very flexible, but if you want to customize or integrate them, you need a good website developer to do it.
Membership support: Basic support is available via custom web apps, an integrated CRM, secured content, and multiple secure zones.
Web apps: Business Catalyst also offers a built-in web app module from which you can easily generate form-based apps to post and share various content types.
It’s integrated with built-in secure zones modules so you can build a members-only platform.
Media support: This feature supports popular types of media, which you can link simply via the WYSIWYG page editor or “Media Downloads”.
A built-in file manager makes it easier to manage uploaded media.
Adobe Business Catalyst pricing is available in three different plans:
webBasics+: $12.21 per month with 1GB storage
webMarketing: $18.88 per month with 1GB storage
webCommerce: Pricing depends on number of users
- 3 users – $38.88 per month (1GB storage)
- 5 users – $58.88 per month (2GB storage)
- 10 users – $79.99 per month (5GB storage)
Each of the above plans offers hosting plus 1TB bandwidth, CMS, site analytics, web forms, and more.
Business Catalyst Pros and Cons
- Analytics are available on multiple traffic levels, clicks, and search terms
- Easy to generate reports
- Easy to link with Adobe Marketing to send newsletters and emails automatically
- Online editing
- Hard to get to the multiple client management dashboard
- No server support
- Software will no longer be available
WordPress is an open source CMS so unlike Business Catalyst, it can’t be shut down or discontinued unexpectedly.
If its developers decided to drop it, the websites running the platform will still remain online, while the code basically continues with its functions.
WordPress directory plugins. For example, if you want to create an email marketing sign up form, you can do so using a plugin, or even convert your site to an online store with WooCommerce.
You can use it for anything from your own personal blog, to a website for a huge brand or company, by installing the relevant theme and adding some plugins.
Similarly, it’s easier to get a budget-friendly developer thanks to the open source nature of the platform, plus the software is free so you really save a lot on costs.
The downside is that WordPress is self-hosted, unlike Business Catalyst which is hosted.
Ecommerce: WordPress offers ecommerce integration but it requires third-party extensions to work.
It’s included with many themes and integrates with other systems easily.
Also included is shipping support, but you have to use add-ons to the ecommerce extension, which means you pay more.
CMS and blog: WordPress has a fairly powerful blog and CMS that’s flexible, easy to maintain and can be extended.
You can share and reuse content, but you need third-party extensions for that. Also included is a blog engine that’s actually one of the best around.
Email marketing: Third-party extensions are also needed to activate email marketing. Unlike Business Catalyst, WordPress offers plugins for MailChimp and Constant contact that offer varied functionality levels.
Customer database: There’s no real built-in capability for this so again, it needs a third-party extension to add it in WordPress.
This may not be easy to manage and is mostly linked to the current extensions being used.
Contact forms: WordPress requires third-party extensions to get contact forms, and these may not integrate with other extensions currently being used.
SEO: Yoast is one of the best SEO plugins and it’s in WordPress. It’s easy to use and helps you improve your SEO quality in your website.
Event management: WordPress uses third-party extensions to offer a specialized event management solution, but it comes at an extra cost and maintenance.
Reporting: This too relies on third-party extensions, otherwise you can use it with Google Analytics.
Menus/navigation: There’s a built-in basic navigation builder that integrates with site customization and templates but it also depends on third-party extensions to work.
Membership support: This feature is available with third-party plugins.
Web apps: Plugins are available, though they tend to be highly specialized or very limited.
Media support: WordPress offers media support for various types of media, but it’s not well integrated so you have to copy and paste the links to the media files. Plus, it’s cumbersome to manage uploaded media.
WordPress is free to download and use, but it’s self-hosted, so you have to register a domain name and pay for web hosting.
WordPress Pros and Cons
- 100 percent ownership of your site
- Freedom to move your site wherever you want
- Complete customization thanks to thousands of free themes
- Unlimited extensions, plugins, and add-ons for extra features
- Easy integration with most tools and apps
- Large WordPress community with forums, online help, and tutorials
- Slight learning curve – needs technical knowledge to set up and manage hosting
- No direct support like email, live chat, or phone
- Coding knowledge needed to customize design, plus manage and troubleshoot issues
- Maintenance and security is owner’s responsibility
Business Catalyst or WordPress: Which one is best?
Before making the decision, one of the big questions to ask yourself is how large your site will be and whether it’ll be an online store or catalog site.
For small sites, WordPress works best, but for large sites, Business Catalyst is a better option, plus it gives you highly customized designs.
Business Catalyst has been a convenient solution with a mailing list, built-in CRM, and ecommerce, while WordPress is more extendable as it integrates better with third-party tools and uses more modern web technologies.
The two are fairly different. Business Catalyst is more of a SaaS tool as it has everything you need plus hosting in one package.
WordPress was initially built for blogging, but it has since evolved to be more flexible thanks to its themes and plugins, so in practice, it can be more versatile.
With Business Catalyst discontinued after March 2020, you can be sure you’ll need a more reliable alternative that’s trusted and won’t let you down in the long run.
WordPress already has Adobe team’s seal of approval, so you can migrate your site to the CMS, and we’ll show you how later in this post.
Business Catalyst offers benefits such as secure hosting through Adobe, useful, and reliable site features like news, galleries, and event bookings among others, and handles all technical updates.
It also lets you sell products and collect payments using various gateways, and support is available from Adobe itself.
On the other hand, WordPress support is handled by the open source community online.
The CMS doesn’t offer benefits like those of Business Catalyst like automatic updates, without paying developers to do it.
Similarly, it can be costly adding plugins, updates, and features, besides having to pay for hosting, CRM, email marketing, updates, and security upgrades.
However, WordPress is still affordable, highly customizable, and still the most popular CMS on the web, powering more than 30 percent of all websites online.
Popularity isn’t the main reason why you should settle on it for your site though, but it comes with many tangible benefits.
This goes to show that using Business Catalyst adds value to your site with time, compared to WordPress sites that can be a depreciating asset when not worked on constantly by developers.
How to migrate your Business Catalyst site to WordPress
Business Catalyst has had a great run though, and many of its users will definitely miss the platform.
However, switching to WordPress is an opportunity to get even more features and benefits you’d otherwise have been missing out on.
There are several reasons why WordPress is a great alternative to move your site to.
One of the best ones is because many people use and manage it, so there’s a large community of people ready to help with anything on this open source platform.
The wide range of tech support is available from open forums to local meetups and managed hosting, so you’re never alone on this journey.
With open source comes more innovation, plus the fact that WordPress won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, unlike Business Catalyst.
Furthermore, you won’t have to stress about the technical stuff thanks to managed hosting as you can focus on your website’s design and development, while someone else handles the nitty gritty stuff.
You also get to create every type of site because WordPress is flexible and extendable. It may not be the easiest thing to move your site over, but the platform can create any kind of site.
Steps to take when Migrating from Business Catalyst to WordPress
If you’ve used Business Catalyst for a while and you’re now looking to switch to WordPress as Adobe’s end of life deadline draws closer, there are a few things to consider before making the switch.
Among them is finding out which components you want when you’re migrating from Business Catalyst.
There’s no simple way to migrate your site. You can’t copy it from Business Catalyst and paste it to WordPress, so you have to move everything manually.
We’re going to show you how to migrate the main components of your Business Catalyst website from web design to custom functions using five main categories.
1. Website Design
There’s no simple hack to use to migrate the visual elements of your Business Catalyst site to WordPress.
The former uses HTML while the latter is based on MYSQL and PHP, so it’s impossible to export HTML code and upload it to WordPress.
In this case, analyze your site critically before deciding whether this is a disadvantage for you.
If you haven’t changed your site for the past five years, you could do with a redesign for your business.
When designing a WordPress site, you can either use a theme, or get a web design agency to create a customized design for you.
If you like your current site’s design, you can ask an agency to develop it for WordPress based on the current one.
2. Custom features or functionality
There’s no way of transitioning Business Catalyst apps, which are custom-made, to WordPress.
If you had these for your site, you need to rebuild them for and through WordPress, and an agency can do this for you.
3. Blogs or posts
Business Catalyst doesn’t let you export your blog posts, even though it enables exportation of other features.
However, you can use an RSS feed and migrate posts to WordPress CMS. To do this:
- Go to Business Catalyst and create an RSS channel
- Compile all RSS channel URLs and save the RSS files
- Import the RSS files into WordPress
- Assign categories to the RSS files
4. EDM and Mailing lists
WordPress doesn’t have a built-in email marketing feature as we have already seen, but Business Catalyst does.
MailChimp, Constant Contact, and others can be integrated into WordPress through plugins though, and you won’t have to start over with mailing lists because you can export your email data.
WordPress also doesn’t have built-in ecommerce features, but you can use the WooCommerce plugin for that.
Business Catalyst lets you migrate your customer data and products to WordPress by exporting your XML file, though it’s time-consuming because you have to restructure them first.
This isn’t a comprehensive breakdown of the actual migration process, but it’s a good place to start, so you can address the main issues you’ll face as you make the switch.
There are a few guides Adobe has made available to help you with the migration process and Business Catalyst recommended migration partners.
You can also republish from Muse if your site was published using it, or you can upload your site to WordPress using FTP.
Make sure you backup the email accounts and point DNS records to your new WordPress site.
Business Catalyst made a good case for itself as a powerful CMS and SaaS platform before Adobe decided to discontinue it.
Besides being easy to use and flexible, it offers an integrated solution with email marketing, analytics, customer database, and ecommerce all in one place.
The downside is it wasn’t open source, so after it’s discontinued, all live websites go offline for good. Plus, it didn’t have third-party plugins and support from the online community is limited.
WordPress, on the other hand, is not only free and easy to use, but you’re assured your site will live long after the developers on its platform walk out on it.
It also offers a variety of plugins for extra functionality and features, and it’s a great blogging engine that’s search engine friendly too.
If you’re ready to make your move from Business Catalyst to WordPress, you can either go the long haul on your own, or get a professional web development agency to handle it for you and make it a great experience altogether.