SharePoint vs Sitecore as a CMS for a Public Facing Website

Let me preface this blog by saying I have done a fair amount of both administering and developing for SharePoint 2007 / 2010 and Sitecore versions 6.x – 7. In my experience, I have found that some IT professionals have a love affair with SharePoint. For this reason, they see SharePoint as something that can be bigger than a simple intranet. This brings me to a common question I have been asked, “Should I use SharePoint as a CMS for my public facing website?”

Out of the box, SharePoint is great for an intranet – Someone with basic Microsoft administrative skills can easily setup a functional website with

  • AD / Exchange integration
  • MSFT Document Management / collaboration tools
  • Enterprise Search linked to server storage
  • Individual sites for teams and employees

I view SharePoint as a hammer, it does one thing very well: intranets. Sitecore, on the other hand, I view as a tool box. With Sitecore, assuming you select the correct tools and use them properly, you have the ability to do so much more with your website. When it comes to building a public facing website in the year 2014, I can’t understand why someone would choose SharePoint over Sitecore.

Most people (heads of IT) agree that SharePoint was not developed for public facing sites. The argument they have, however, is that they already have a lot of time, money, and knowledge invested in SharePoint so they do not want to invest in something new. While I understand this argument, I have put together a short list of the advantages Sitecore offers over SharePoint as a CMS for a public facing website.

  • SharePoint requires high customization in order to be public facing (even allowing anonymous user to access the site takes some work)
  • Sitecore’s DMS (Digital Marketing Suite) – SharePoint has nothing like this. Any website that has marketing in mind can greatly benefit from this tool included with Sitecore.
  • A/B testing is included with Sitecore, a must for a modern website. To my knowledge, SharePoint does not come with any kind of A/B testing.
  • Frontend development for SharePoint is restricted and requires a lot of customized work, Sitecore on the other hand, is free of restrictions and able to do anything you want.
  • SharePoint is very limited to List Views for content entry.
  • Sitecore has a clear line between data and presentation making content easier to manage.
  • Sitecore allows high flexibility for content editors and a logical hierarchical structure.
  • Sitecore offers fantastic technical support, Microsoft charges $120 to open a case.
  • I understand that licensing costs can vary, but in my last estimate, SharePoint (with search) was more expensive.
  • Sitecore’s Web Forms for Marketers makes building forms and triggering goals simple.
  • Sitecore offers a free for multisite solution – meaning the cost of having 3 sites running under 1 solution is the same cost as having just 1.
  • Sitecore offers easy multilingual configuration
  • Sitecore is developer friendly – Development in Sitecore is much easier and requires a lot less specific knowledge. More developers are able to produce a better solution, faster, cheaper.