Wordpress VS Business Catalyst

Written by Vineeta G - May 12, 2011

Wordpress is an extremely efficient CMS & a blogging engine. It is a light system and therefore does not put too much strain on the hosting system. Wordpress is a bit more user friendly, has more features, and clients love it.

You can build regular sites using WordPress, using either its pages or posts functionality. They function and look like sites you would build from scratch in DreamWeaver, the difference being you can build them in half the time in WordPress because it already has a lot of CMS functionality coded for you. You can create your own templates (themes) for WordPress to achieve any design layout if the client can afford you to do so, or choose one of the thousands of free or cheap WP themes available worldwide and modify it to be your own if you are on a budget.

Business Catalyst is a fully integrated system that enables programmers to create a website. The blog that BC offers is not as easy to use as that of WordPress.  You can make a great shopping cart with Business Catalyst and also a listing website.  However, is now a days quite easy to do this with WordPress using the right plugins.


Wordpress is very good for search engine optimisation.  As Matt Cutt (Google’s speaker) says – WordPress is a “fantastic choice” for SEO. 

Business Catalyst on the other hand has some built in features for SEO, but mainly the focus has to be off-site SEO.  There is very little scope for on-site SEO. BC is certainly not as powerful as Wordpress in regards to SEO.


Wordpress can be hosted on a linux based platform and has the following requirements:

  • PHP version 5.2.4 or greater
  • MySQL version 5.0 or greater
  • The requirements have changed as of WordPress 3.2. The minimum requirements for WordPress 3.1 are PHP 4.3 and MySQL 4.1.2.

You can move wordpress site to a new hosting in a matter of minutes if not hours.  There are many hosting companies out there who allow you to use ‘One Click Install’ for latest version of Wordpress.

Business Catalyst comes with a hosting plan and you cannot move away unless you create the same website in another system and start a new hosting plan with a new supplier.  You cannot host BC wherever you want, it is a hosted solution – software as a service. You either buy a license up front or  host on one of their partner’s system.


Wordpress CMS – The WordPress Theme system is a way to “skin” your website. Yet, it is more than just a “skin.” Skinning your site implies that only the design is changed. WordPress Themes can provide much more control over the look and presentationof the material on your website. A WordPress Theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a website. These files are called template files. A Theme modifies the way the site is displayed, without modifying the underlying software. Themes may include customized template files, image files (*.jpg, *.gif), style sheets (*.css), custom Pages, as well as any necessary code files (*.php).

Business Catalyst CMS can be customised using dreamweaver software.

Open Source Code

Wordpress code is open souce and thousands of programmers are working everyday to make the system more robust and better.  It is a voluntary organisaiton and lets you have many plugins and core system for free.

BC code is not open source.  The company is allowing to use the system by tying companies into using Adobe products right from Adobe photoshop, Dreamweaver to Business Catalyst.  Unless the customer is ready to pay the minimum charges which BC is charging for hosting, it is not a solution to go with.


WordPress has a huge user community (70 million sites run in WP making it the biggest content system on the planet) and those users contribute to the community thousands of free plug-ins and design template themes anyone can freely use.  There are over 18,000 free plugins in the Wordpress directory.

BC has no such sharing or community.  BC are independent developers who keep their own code and designs to themselves. BC doesn’t lean to the “open source” philosophy. For this reason, they are limited to the small number of plug-in Modules the BC developers give us, and most of those are limited in function compared to the WP plug-ins. For instance, the one BC photo gallery is not the best whereas in WP there are many kinds of gallery plug-ins to choose from and some do spectacular things.


BC is poor as a blogging platform.

On the other hand Wordpress was developed as a blogging platform to start with.


Wordpress is an open source system.  With its recent version 3.4.3 it has become more secure to use and with the use of appropriate plugins the website can be made more secure than the previous versions. It is advisable to budget for an update every three months to ensure that the website remains bug free.

E-commerce Store / Shopping Cart

I would recommending using Shopp Plugin – http://shopplugin.net/ (US$55/license) for e-commerce stores if the client is interested in adding a shopp on the existing wordpress website. There are more plugins on the market such as foxycart and cart66 which are worth giving a go.  There are other free plugins such as wp-ecommerce that can integrate with wordpress to form a shopping cart & shop.

Business Catalyst has a built in Shop module and therefore there is no requirement for customisation or additional work.

WordPress can function as an e-commerce shopping cart using the free WP E-commerce plug-in, which has been downloaded a half-million times so there are many stores running in it.  However, performance issues limit the number of products to a few hundred.  However, I wouldn’t put a bigger store in it, although a new version of the plug-in is under development that will store data in WordPress native tables and not its own with the promise of fast performance. However, the visual display of your products is limited within WordPress.

Whereas in BC you can more easily and quickly design your own template to display product lists and product details and product photos any way you need. BC also supports more payment gateways.

Email Newsletter Integration

WP has limited ability to manage e-mail lists and poor outbound e-marketing plug-ins. When WP clients need this its best to hook up a form in Wordpress with the API at a service like MailChimp so the signups are stored there and then MailChimp is used for marketing.

BC is far superior when it comes to building a customer database and emailing them.

There is a great form-builder plug-in for WordPress (Gravity Forms) that easily lets clients build forms like BC, but there is no central customer database where everything gets stored like in BC, unless the client signs up for a Mailchimp account.

So, BC is a good platform for deploying forms and collecting data in one place, and especially monitoring those customers with reporting and later marketing to them.

Adding a social network to your site

With BuddyPress users can chat in real time on your site, and each chat session becomes a permanent page as well. Great way to build up lots of content to impress Google with. WordPress allows one installation to use multiple domain names, so to Google SEO you can look like you are running different and specific sites on each topic, but it’s really all part of one world. WP 3.0 lets you attach different templates to content by which category its in, by who the author was, and so on. So the templating assignment is very flexible. There is no such functionality in Business Catalyst

Creating Menus

WordPress has a far superior menu creation system (starting in new version WordPress 3.0 released June 2010) which EASILY lets clients use a drag-and-drop to create their own menus consisting of any combinations of anything. For instance, within one branch of your menu you can include links to your pages, a link to display one category of items from your shopping cart or blog, links to PDFs or photo galleries, links to external websites, etc. In other words, any branch of any menu can link to anything, there is no fixed limits to what any menu can refer to. You can create as many menus as you need and insert them where you need. BC does not have this sort of functionality.

Training Clients

WordPress is simpler for clients because there is only one way to add content to pages with its back-end editor. ‘Your Agency’ can train a client in an hour and they are good to go. For ongoing support – you can use video manuals like – http://www.videousermanuals.com/. With BC, ‘Your Agency’ will have to train the clients to use multiple editors, because it’s the only way to achieve the layout they want with multiple content areas on a page. The BC back-end editor can edit only the one tag page content area, so other areas on a page have to be edited within the content holder editor, or using In-Context Editing on the page.

Adding a Secure area to the site

It is easier to add a secure area in Business Catalyst as compared to Wordpress. Wordpress allows you to password protect pages and posts of the website.

Branding as ‘Your Agency’ – White Label

Business Catalyst can be branded after a payment of $2000 which includes support.

With Wordpress, ‘White Label CMS’ allows you to white label the system.  Major agencies around the world use Wordpress, and use this plugin.  http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/white-label-cms/.  This allows you to control how much information you allow the clients to see in the admin area. White Label CMS allows you to remove all the panels from the WordPress dashboard and insert your own panel, which you can use to write a personalised message to your client and link to the important elements in the CMS. It also allows you to add custom logos to the header and footer as well as the all important login page, giving your client a better branded experience of using their new website. There is also the option to hide the nag updates as well. UPDATE – Salesforce CRM plugin and there are other plugins which will allow you to integrate CRM with WordPress, more reasons to use WordPress!!

Examples –

Wordpress Examples





Business Catalyst Examples




Use Wordpress. Leave the business catalyst sites that are already developed in business catalyst.

Don’t try and make a powerful website in Business Catalyst.

WordPress is available for the $10 a month ‘Your Agency’ can charge for hosting it. Also, if they need more complicated functionality and you can’t find any paid/free plugins for wordpress, then you need to hire a php coder to code this plugin. Of course, before committing to the client, its good to map out what functionality is essential and what is the budget for the job.  If there are functions that can be implemented by using plugins, then there is absolutely no cost to ‘Your Agency’ to add this functionality – for example, contact form, image gallery, calender, social media widgets.

Some References:

lahatte from http://businesscatalyst.com/ForumRetrieve.aspx?ForumID=30&TopicID=14457&X=57325

If you want SEO of any kind… go Wordpress… BC really is way behind on SEO and Wordpress dominates in Google severely… We did a test and put up 2 sites at the same time, one on Wordpress, and one on BC. Both were targeting the exact same keyword and both had same exact “on-page” SEO… There was no duplicate content…. The Wordpress site was fully indexed in Google within 24hrs… The BC site took over 3 weeks before Google indexed anything… The Wordpress site dominated BC site in rankings…. Google loves Wordpress and if you are planning on doing any off page optimization, Wordpress will definitely dominate there as well… Search Engine Optimization clearly favors WordPress because every URL in WordPress consists of user-friendly English words where you can put your Google search keywords and get high search rank. WP also has a robust category system and search tags you assign to pages, and Google values those highly as search criteria.

Other useful information

Wordpress creates dynamic pages. Dreamweaver (BC) creates static pages. A web page can be static or dynamic. Static pages, such as a regular HTML page that you might create with Dreamweaver, are those which have been created once and do not have to be regenerated every time a person visits it.

In contrast, dynamic pages, such as those you create with WordPress, do need to be regenerated every time they are viewed; code for what to generate has been specified by the author, but not the actual page itself. These use extensive PHP code which is evaluated each time the page is visited, and the content is thus generated on the fly, upon each new visit. Almost everything in WordPress is generated dynamically, including Pages. Everything you and others write in WordPress (Posts, Pages, Comments, Blogrolls, Categories, etc.) is stored in your MySQL database. When your site is accessed, that database information is then used by your WordPress Templates from your current ‘ Theme’ to generate the web page being requested. Thus, WordPress information is dynamic, including the information contained in your Pages.