Sitecore CMS vs. Adobe Experience Manager (AEM)

The development of a robust and comprehensive content management system (CMS) is a time- and resource-consuming process, but its proper implementation provides incredible business opportunities. That is why a company that requires an efficient cooperative content creation, editing and management should select a content management system with great care.

To help companies make the choice of a proper CMS, Gartner has created its annual Magic Quadrants for Web Content Management (WCM). Once again, Gartner rated Sitecore CMS and Adobe Experience Manager  (AEM) as key players that have left their competitors, such as Acquia, IBM, Oracle and SDL Tridion behind.

Source: Gartner

Based on our own CMS development expertise and numerous expert reviews, we have prepared this article. It is a benchmarking analysis to understand the strengths and shortcomings of each of the two systems and compare Adobe versus Sitecore CMS performance.

Sitecore CMS

Since its emergence in 2001, Sitecore Web CMS allows developing and managing websites of various complexity levels. Sitecore is not the most popular CMS in the world, as it runs 11,400+ websites in comparison with 18,700,000+ websites that are based on the top performer — WordPress. However, this commercial CMS is certainly best -known for the ultimate personalization capabilities that it provides.

Unlike numerous similar solutions, this .NET- based system has a modular structure, which is particularly useful for companies that need to develop websites from scratch and in full compliance with their requirements. On the other side, the development of Sitecore-based websites requires considerable programming, as the solution is “empty” and lacks a well-defined structure. That is why IT experts should build the foundation first, prior to website development and configuration.

Gartner distinguishes Sitecore’s extraordinary ability to execute and sets an especially high value on the 360-degree view of the customer that the solution provides. Indeed, the system’s functionality is beyond that of an intranet solution as it combines a comprehensive CMS and website. Also, it includes numerous extensions for web analytics, interaction with SharePoint, SEO optimization, email distribution and more.

The Advantages of Sitecore CMS

The system possesses a wide range of advantages that make it stand out and provide the background for the development of powerful websites, such as:

  • Unparalleled personalization capabilities, first and foremost. No other CMS can boast the ability to adjust content to specific user groups that is comparable to that of Sitecore. The system provides personalized, contextual data through user segmentation based on embedded analytics and targeting.
  • Endless customization functionality. The system provides unlimited capabilities for solution tailoring as it allows developing websites from the ground up. Also, a wide variety of modules is available in the marketplace. However, this benefit entails certain problems (we will focus on it in the “Disadvantages” section).
  • Powerful eCommerce capabilities. Recently created, Sitecore Experience Commerce extends the capabilities of a CMS and transforms it into a comprehensive platform for Digital Enterprise that embraces sales and content management.
  • Easy integration. A Sitecore-based solution can be merged seamlessly with the customer’s existing databases, websites developed by third parties, and other vendors’ tools and extensions.
  • High scalability. This CMS allows for ramping up accordingly as the number of users increases.
  • Distributed content management. Multiple users can access, share and mastermind data simultaneously, and it will not trigger content loss and the system’s speed drop or downtime.
  • Easy CMS administration. Running Sitecore-based websites does not require programming skills; a common user with basic computer knowledge can do it.
  • SEO- and SMM-friendliness.
  • Robust security.
  • A mobile app is available.

The Disadvantages of Sitecore CMS

Companies that decide on the system’s unmatched personalization capabilities should be ready for the following limitations:

  • High cost. As it usually happens in software development, the cost depends greatly on the company’s business specifics and requirements. However, irrespective of the case, a Sitecore-based CMS comes at a high price.
  • A “per user” licensing. Companies with a broad reach may consider this pricing model unsuitable as it significantly increases the overall cost.
  • CMS development requires IT expertise. Non-pro users cannot develop a full-fledged CMS out of the basic framework that Sitecore delivers, as it requires programming skills. The framework is “empty,” it does not come laden with a template that allows creating a system on its basis. That is why, to build the core that will enable further system management, companies require third-party assistance.
  • Cloud-related issues. Sitecore has not been as quick as its competitors in shifting to the cloud, which causes various issues. Recently, however, this vendor has begun utilizing the cloud in a fast-paced manner, which brings hope for the elimination of this issue.

Check our Sitecore CMS experience

Sitecore Prospective Customers

The high cost and the necessity to turn to professional service providers are measured against extraordinary personalization that Sitecore provides to its followers. These are the main pros and cons of the Sitecore content management system. Only mid-market and enterprise-level companies can afford to bear considerable license costs and the solution’s customization and configuration in return for the capability to access their users in a more individual way.

High personalization is especially relevant to businesses that deliver their services and products to highly diversified markets. That is why Procter & Gamble, SGS, LEO Pharma, Canon, Suzuki, Toshiba and many other companies have opted for Sitecore.

Adobe Experience Manager

Another powerful commercial CMS, Adobe Experience Manager CMS is an offspring of Adobe Systems Incorporated, a company that has Photoshop, Acrobat Reader, Adobe Creative Cloud and some other solutions under its belt. That is why there is no surprise that the CMS allows smooth and seamless integration with other Adobe software; also, it operates efficiently in conjunction with SAP Customer Experience and similar systems.

More than 6,000 websites are based on Adobe content management tools, the number that is even smaller than that of Sitecore. Despite this fact, Gartner considers Adobe to be the leading web CMS because of the completeness of vision.

The feature that makes Adobe XP Manager stand out is that it allows maintaining the same look and feel across all parts of a company’s CMS from a single location. The system’s integrated editing interface contributes to it, while separate client-side libraries facilitate the simultaneous work of multiple editors and enable concurrent cooperation among development teams, both frontend and backend.

The system’s user-friendly interface enables contributors with little to no subject-matter knowledge to edit content easily, thus providing positive user experience. Real-time updates contribute to a real “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) experience, which allows authors to have a clear idea of the website’s look and feel.

The Advantages of Adobe Experience Manager

The combination of the following benefits shapes up the “completeness of vision” of the Adobe Content Manager:

  • Management of websites from a single platform. All of the company’s websites can be accessed and masterminded from a single location, which contributes to more efficient system performance, and less time required for quality assurance and personnel training. It also improves the time it takes to deliver content to targeted website users.
  • A user-friendly interface. Users with any level of programming knowledge can create the content and publish it, while WYSIWYG experience adds to the visibility of editing. The system allows uploading images easily.
  • A wide range of options. Proper system customization opens the floodgates to leveraging comprehensive system features.
  • Diversified content management. The system allows multiple contributors to access and manage the content simultaneously.
  • Ecommerce capabilities. The platform easily integrates with Magento Commerce.
  • Smooth integration. The solution easily integrates with a company’s marketing software and supports out-of-the-box integration with Adobe applications.
  • High-level security. Digital watermarking and various privilege levels protect the content against unauthorized use.
  • Unparalleled SMM capabilities.
  • High scalability.

The Disadvantages of Adobe Experience Manager

However, the Adobe content management system has some significant drawbacks, such as:

  • The cost is extremely high. Naturally, the CMS’s cost depends heavily on the customer’s requirements, but in the case of Adobe, it never comes cheap: an average project cost usually runs into six figures.
  • The customization of an out-of-the-box solution requires programmers’ involvement and deep technology expertise. To function properly and add value to businesses, an out-of-the-box solution requires considerable customization that is impossible without IT expertise.
  • Complicated development and customization. The lack of consistent documentation only adds to the complexity of developers’ work. Also, the vendor is often too slow or even absent from bug fixing.
  • Poor customer support. While the solution is not open-source, the vendor does not provide proper support for the developer community.
  • Upgrade-related issues. Careful backup is recommended before system upgrading, otherwise, it may result in damage and data loss. Backup is also an issue.
  • Poor TouchUI.
  • The hunt for subject-matter developers is a challenge.

Prospective Customers of Adobe Content Management System

The high cost of the system’s implementation significantly confines the circle of prospective customers. Of all the business es that can afford Adobe Experience Manager, this CMS is a definitive solution for companies that run large websites and share large amounts of data. That is why the XP Manager’s customer success stories include that of Motorola, MasterCard, Franke Group, Philips, Sony Interactive Entertainment and many other businesses.

The Comparative Analysis of Sitecore CMS vs. Adobe CMS

Both of the systems have much in common, such as their broad-spectrum functionality, powerful performance and, unfortunately, high cost and implementation complexity. To gain a 360-degree overview of the crucial differences between Sitecore and Adobe CMS and their similarities, we have created a comparative table. It describes the benefits of Sitecore vs. Adobe, the advantages of Sitecore over Adobe, and vice versa.

Adobe vs. Sitecore comparison

Sitecore CMSAdobe CMS
The cost of implementationVery highVery high
The complexity of implementationDifficult and time-consuming implementation, requires IT expertiseDifficult and time-consuming implementation, requires IT expertise
Functional capabilitiesA wide range of features that are available after proper customizationA wide range of features that are available after proper customization
The simplicity of integrationIntegrates easily with customer databases, websites, applications and extensionsIntegrates easily with customer databases, websites, applications and extensions
Distributed content managementMultiple users can manage the content simultaneouslyMultiple users can manage the content simultaneously
SEO- and SMM-friendlinessFriendlyFriendly
The level of securityHighHigh
Personalization capabilitiesUnparalleled personalization capabilities, allows adjusting the content to specific user groupsAverage
The ability to manage the system from a single platformNoAll websites can be accessed and managed from a single location, allows enhancing performance, reducing the time for QA and personnel training and improving time for delivering a targeted content
User interfaceFriendly, system administration does not require programming skillsFriendly, system administration does not require programming skills. Users with no IT expertise can create and publish the content. WYSIWYG experience adds to the visibility of editing.
Ecommerce capabilitiesPowerful built-in eCommerce module — Sitecore Experience CommerceIntegration with Magento commerce platform

Adobe vs. Sitecore Comparison

As it is evident from the table above, the two CMSs have much in common: they can both perform efficiently and add value to businesses if properly customized. However, the systems have certain distinctions that can turn out to be crucial depending on a company’s requirements and expectations. They are personalization capabilities, the ability to manage the system from a single platform and the user interface’s friendliness.

When our customers ask us when to use Sitecore instead of Adobe content management software, we usually recommend looking at the project’s main requirement. It is clear that these CMSs are not the first choice for startups and small businesses, while midsize and large companies may find these solutions to be a fit. If companies run diversified businesses, chances are, they will find Sitecore to be a spot-on system for them, while for businesses that focus on content-sharing, Adobe Experience Manager will fit the bill.

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About the author

Yuliya Shaptunova
Yuliya Shaptunova

A content writer at SaM Solutions, Yuliya is anxious to create and deliver relevant experiences. She evangelizes corporate knowledge on expertise and innovations that the company provides.


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