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A Fair Review of the Top .NET CMS Platforms

With literally hundreds of web content management (WCM) systems out in the global marketplace, I’ve always thought there would be a few websites you could visit for a legitimate apples-to-apples comparison of the top CMS platforms. Although, there are many sites that provide some good content, I have yet to find a site that provides a fair comparison for the consumer.

What you seem to receive instead is a convoluted mix of small, mid-market and enterprise-level solutions all with diverse technologies, mashed together like it’s a plug-and-play world, no matter what the platform or consumer need. Do a quick search online for top WCM reviews and what you’ll find is a multitude of sites that seem to position WordPress and Joomla as the best platforms, followed by a plethora of open source offerings that no one’s ever heard of before. Granted, WordPress and Joomla are great products with a huge global following, but are they the best fit? Let me put it this way - if I was in the market for a full size pickup truck, I’m not going to be interested in test driving a Honda Civic.

One review site I recently visited had HubSpot, a sales and inbound marketing platform, listed as the “best” WCM solution… oh really? Another site was comparing WordPress to Sitecore, an absurd comparison that seems to be commonplace with amateur bloggers and critics.

“I would surmise that most review sites are created and maintained by people that are simply not qualified enough for the task of reviewing software.”

Why is it so difficult to find a software review site geared towards actually helping decision-makers during the arduous task of selecting a best fit WCM solution, instead of confusing or misleading them? I would surmise that most review sites are created and maintained by people that are simply not qualified enough for the task of reviewing software. Do they have hands-on experience with every platform they rate? Probably not. Let’s be honest, if you don’t know the difference between WordPress and Sitecore, or that HubSpot is not a WCM system, then maybe you should abstain from reviewing software.

Most of the top analysts that can tell the difference do charge a fee to access their reports, but buyer beware of the pay-to-play and mysterious metrics for inclusion. Although reports like Gartner’s Magic Quadrant and Forrester’s Wave for WCM can be useful, I recommend they be used as a loose guideline only.

If you’re asking yourself - what makes this guy think he’s qualified to review WCM software? Well, that’s a very good question, and to be honest I don’t believe I am qualified to review all WCM solutions. Although we have analysts at CMS-Connected that have a vast amount of PHP and Java platform experience, I’ve only worked on a handful of those platforms, so I don’t feel I’m qualified to dispense judgement on those technologies. But I have been working with .NET CMS solutions for well over 15-years. I have gained an in-depth knowledge of the platforms, the politics, and the people that shape the WCM industry.

With that said, for my review I’m going to stick with what I know best - .NET WCM systems that have a strong presence in North America. I’ll also be listing only those platforms that in my opinion have a strong market penetration, provide stable releases, and have good corporate governance. Also, no magical pay-to-play inclusions, and as an added bonus to the readers, a significant curtailing of vendor-created buzzwords.

 

Top Rated .Net Web Content Management Systems

  • Bridgeline
  • Dot Net Nuke
  • Elcom
  • epi
  • Ingeniux
  • Kentico
  • Progress Sitefinity
  • Sitecore
  • Umbraco

Click on the logos above to link to individual vendor reviews or download a PDF of all the top .NET CMS platforms reviewed. 

My Final Thoughts

All the vendors in this review are viable .NET WCM options and the similarities between them are far greater than their differences. Although I did consider adding a rating or some sort of scoring chart to help in the selection process, I simply could not see the value. Unless I have details of your business and technical capabilities, and can conduct a proper evaluation of your short and long-term digital strategies, a scoring chart would be impractical for this review.

The only sure-fire way to select a best-fit solution for your organization once you’ve narrowed down the platforms that match your technology needs, feature requirements, and budgetary concerns, is to request a personalized demo or even better, download a trial version and start exploring.

I also recommend that you request a proof-of-concept (POC) from your shortlisted vendors, making sure your unique needs and concerns are fully met. As a professional courtesy though, make sure you’re ready to actually pull the trigger on the purchase before you start requesting POCs as they are time-consuming for the vendors to produce. It’s also important that you make sure you put as much debate and planning into selecting a best-fit implementation partner as you would in selecting the WCM system. A good integration team can work with sub-standard software, but hire an ineffective integrator and the software quickly becomes a non-factor in your ill-fated project.

Footnote: SharePoint was initially tabled for inclusion in this review but after speaking with an executive at Microsoft, it is clear that WCM is not a primary use case for SharePoint anymore and Microsoft has deprecated its public sites capabilities. Although, there are some publishing and anonymous access features still available in SharePoint Server for on-premises, they shouldn’t be reviewed as a WCM platform when Microsoft is clearly promoting other WCM solutions on Azure such as Sitecore and Adobe.
 

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About the Author

Gary Eisenstein

Gary Eisenstein

Gary has been working in the IT industry for over 23-years and is a Principle Analyst at CMS-Connected. If you would like to receive additional advice or consultation on selecting a “best-fit” Web Content Management solution, Gary can be reached at gary.eisenstein@cms-connected.com.