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Farewell, Adobe Business Catalyst – What’s Next?

Meredith Schraeder - Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Adobe Business Catalyst Logo

At this time two years ago, we encouraged B2B companies to use Adobe Business Catalyst – our website content management system (WCMS) of choice.

Sadly and unexpectedly, Business Catalyst announced that they will end-of-life the platform by March 26, 2020. Adobe originally wanted to pull the plug in 2018, but pushed the date back as torches were lit and pitchforks were being sharpened. This leaves more than 700,000 websites currently hosted on Adobe with the daunting task of migrating to another platform.

Choosing a WCMS for your B2B website can be a struggle. There are so many – trendy platforms entice you with promises of do-it-yourself website designs and minimal prices. Others wow you with functionality until you realize that the monthly subscription is more than your entire marketing budget.

So, how do you choose the right WCMS without sacrificing something key?

Sacrifice #1: Security

We were initially drawn to Adobe Business Catalyst because it is cloud-based and can be accessed remotely by both us and our clients. Its security and data centers are hosted via Amazon Web Services, the world leader of the cloud computing market. Business Catalyst also offers Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates for purchase for websites needing to secure their domain. Since we first started using the platform in 2014, we’ve never seen an Adobe Business Catalyst website hacked.

What Is the Security of other WCMS Platforms?

We’ve seen too many WordPress sites hacked, which is why we’ve migrated so many to Adobe Business Catalyst. In fact, a 2017 report by Sucuri showed that WordPress hosted 83% of the total websites hacked out of the platforms evaluated, followed by Joomla at 13% and Magento at 7%. In our experience, WordPress hacks almost always occur because no one is accountable for keeping the core module updated, and hackers exploit open source vulnerabilities that have been known for months or years and have been long since patched in the latest versions. This is also a problem for other open source sites like Joomla, Drupal and Umbraco.

Security is a top concern for B2B websites. A single hack can destroy your credibility with Google and cause your keyword rankings and lead generation to plummet – we’ve seen it take up to a year to recover from a hack from the day the site was migrated to a new WCMS.

SSL Is Not Enough

While sites like Wix and SquareSpace offer free SSL certificates for all of their sites, that only protects any contact form submissions or e-commerce sales – it does not prevent hackers from getting in through code vulnerabilities.

Sacrifice #2: Search Engine Optimization

It’s no secret that things like page titles, meta descriptions and structured data are needed on your website to rank in the organic Google search results.

Why, then, do some visual website editing platforms lack the capability to edit these fields?

It’s important to remember that a professionally designed website does not translate to high rankings and lead generation without a critical mass of content and the implementation of SEO best practices. If a website editor seems too easy, then it probably is and may hurt your potential for generating leads – especially if it only allows you to have one page title and meta description for the whole site (each one needs to be unique) or if it automatically populates (they need to incorporate your most important keywords and read well).

Sacrifice #3: Functionality and Customization

Another aspect of Adobe Business Catalyst that we loved was the cost-effectiveness of including all of the following as native functionality (not third-party plug-ins): built-in contact forms, partner portals (secure zones), SEO, URL redirects, file manager, e-commerce, email marketing and even CRM (though the latter two are quite basic). This saved our clients money and headache.

Today’s WCMS platforms require plug-ins for almost everything, except the e-commerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce (though the latter is an effective ecommerce plug-in for WordPress). Because of security concerns, it’s important to make sure you choose your plug-ins wisely.

The problem with plug-ins for low-cost WCMS platforms like Wix and SquareSpace is that available plug-ins look good at first glance, but their functionality is often limited and they do not allow you to customize the underlying HTML. They often offer a premium upgrade, costing as little at $1-2 per month for additional functionality, but this can add up quickly and still may not provide the customization it would take a developer 30 minutes to achieve.

Sacrifice #4: Cost

If you’re like us and have ruled out all the low-cost and legacy open-source WCMS platforms, what fits and is cost-effective? The closest proprietary WCMS platforms to Adobe Business Catalyst tend to cost 10x as much at $500 to $1,000 per month because they are enterprise grade WCMS platforms like Episerver, SiteCore and Adobe Experience Manager that are sold primarily to the Fortune 500.

Sacrifice #5: A Name You Know

Even when we found cost-effective WCMS platforms, they have names we’ve never heard of. Who owns them? Do they work out of a basement? Who will guarantee continued development? Are they on version 2.0?

We cannot build our client’s #1 marketing asset on the flavor of the week.

WP Engine: The Perfect Combination of WordPress, Security, SEO & Everything Else

With Adobe Business Catalyst on its last leg, we’re migrating all client sites to WP Engine.

WP Engine is more than a WCMS platform – it’s actually “managed WordPress.” This is why they offer automated daily back-ups, automated WordPress updates and 24/7 support. If you want to manually update your site (for major WordPress and PHP releases), you can do so in a staged environment to troubleshoot potential theme and plug-in issues. They even offer free SSL certification through Let’s Encrypt.

If you’ve got an outdated, unsecured WordPress site, you can migrate it to WP Engine with the click of a button.

We also like that WP Engine vets every plugin and does not allow you to use any plug-in with security issues. Key vetted plug-ins include Contact Form 7, Members, Yoast SEO, Redirects, WP File Manager, and WooCommerce. Sadly, email marketing is completely separate, but we recommend iContact, which is easier to use than ConstantContact at half the cost. We also recommend using both WordFence and Sucuri Scanner to ensure your website is secure.

The price is right: WP Engine only costs $35 a month, which is even less than Adobe Business Catalyst. And while you may not know them, WP Engine has over 500 employees who support 85,000 customers in 140 countries. An estimated 5% of web users visits a website on WP Engine’s platform every day.

Considering that about 32% of the internet’s websites are run on WordPress, it’s safe to say it’s not going anywhere soon. This allows us to tap into a large developer universe when we need cost-effective development beyond our in-house capabilities, which keeps costs down for clients who’d rather spend on lead generation activities than website development.

What more do you want? While we will miss Adobe Business Catalyst, our clients really like WP Engine and making the switch was relatively easy. However, if you think you know a better WCMS, let us know.