ButterCMS vs. Wagtail: A Comprehensive Comparison of Two Powerful Content Management Systems

ButterCMS vs. Wagtail: A Comprehensive Comparison of Two Powerful Content Management Systems


Welcome to our comprehensive comparison guide between ButterCMS and Wagtail, two popular Content Management Systems (CMS). Choosing the right CMS is crucial for digital leaders and decision-makers as it determines the efficiency and effectiveness of managing and delivering content. In this guide, we will delve into various aspects of both CMSs, including their foundations, design and user experience, content management capabilities, collaboration and user management features, performance and scalability, customization and extensions, SEO and marketing tools, security and compliance measures, as well as migration, support, and maintenance options. By the end of this guide, you will have a clear understanding of which CMS will be the best fit for your organization's needs.

Foundations of CMS

Both ButterCMS and Wagtail are powerful CMSs that offer a range of features and functionalities. ButterCMS is a headless CMS, meaning it provides a back-end content management system without a front-end presentation layer. This makes it ideal for developers who want full control over the front-end design and user experience. On the other hand, Wagtail is a traditional CMS that offers both back-end content management and front-end design capabilities. This makes it a great choice for organizations that prefer an all-in-one solution without needing extensive technical knowledge.

When it comes to ease of use, ButterCMS boasts a simple and intuitive interface, allowing users to quickly navigate and manage their content. Its user-friendly approach makes it ideal for non-technical users who want a hassle-free content management experience. In contrast, Wagtail offers a more robust and flexible CMS solution but requires a slightly steeper learning curve due to its extensive features and functionalities. However, for organizations with more complex content management needs, Wagtail's advanced capabilities can be highly beneficial.

In terms of scalability, both CMSs have proven to be highly capable. ButterCMS offers a scalable infrastructure that can handle large amounts of content and traffic, ensuring optimal performance even during peak times. Similarly, Wagtail is designed to handle high-traffic websites and has been successfully implemented by several large organizations. Therefore, you can trust both CMSs to handle your organization's growth and evolving needs.

Lastly, the cost of implementation and maintenance is always a crucial factor. ButterCMS offers various pricing plans to cater to different organizational needs, making it a cost-effective option for both small businesses and large enterprises. Wagtail, on the other hand, is an open-source CMS, which means it can be freely downloaded and used. However, additional development and support costs may apply, depending on the extent of customization and integrations required. It's essential to consider your budget and resources when evaluating the cost aspect of each CMS.

Design & User Experience

When it comes to design and user experience, both ButterCMS and Wagtail offer robust capabilities. ButterCMS allows you to fully customize the front-end design, ensuring a seamless and engaging user experience. Its flexible templating system enables you to create unique and visually appealing websites while providing an intuitive editorial interface for content management.

Wagtail, being a traditional CMS, provides a built-in front-end editing feature that allows content creators and editors to make real-time changes directly on the website. This feature simplifies the editing process and improves overall productivity. Additionally, Wagtail offers a wide range of responsive design options, allowing your website to adapt to different screen sizes and devices.

Both CMSs provide support for creating responsive and mobile-friendly websites, ensuring a consistent user experience across various devices. Whether you choose ButterCMS or Wagtail, you can be confident that your website will look and function seamlessly on desktops, tablets, and smartphones.

In terms of design integrations and third-party tools, ButterCMS offers seamless integration with popular design tools like Adobe XD and Sketch. This enables designers to seamlessly import their design files into ButterCMS, saving time and effort in the development process. Additionally, ButterCMS provides APIs and SDKs, allowing developers to integrate the CMS into their existing tech stack easily.

Content Management

Effective content management is at the core of any CMS, and both ButterCMS and Wagtail excel in this aspect. ButterCMS boasts a user-friendly and intuitive content editor, empowering marketers and content creators to write, edit, and publish content effortlessly. Its WYSIWYG editor provides a familiar interface, similar to popular word processors, making it easy for non-technical users to produce and manage content.

Wagtail, being a traditional CMS, also offers a powerful content management system that enables teams to collaborate effectively on content creation and publishing. It provides version control, allowing you to track and manage revisions, ensuring content accuracy and accountability. Additionally, Wagtail's content editing interface is highly customizable, enabling you to tailor the experience to your team's specific needs.

Both CMSs provide content scheduling and publishing features, allowing you to plan and automate content releases. This ensures a consistent flow of fresh content on your website, elevating user engagement and organic search visibility. Furthermore, ButterCMS offers advanced content modeling capabilities, enabling you to structure and organize your content in a way that best suits your organization's needs.

For organizations with multiple websites or blogs, ButterCMS provides a multi-site management feature, allowing you to efficiently manage all your websites from a single dashboard. With ButterCMS, you can easily create and manage content across different projects or domains, saving time and streamlining your content management processes.

Collaboration & User Management

Collaboration and user management play a vital role, especially for larger organizations with multiple content contributors and editors. ButterCMS offers robust collaboration features, allowing you to invite team members and assign specific roles and permissions. This ensures that each team member has the appropriate level of access and control over the content they are responsible for.

Wagtail, being a traditional CMS, also provides extensive user management capabilities. It allows you to create user groups, assign specific permissions, and define workflows for content approval and publishing processes. This level of granular control ensures that your content creation and publishing workflows align with your organizational structure and needs.

Both CMSs offer easy-to-use content review and approval processes, allowing multiple stakeholders to collaborate and provide feedback on content drafts before publication. This helps maintain content quality and consistency, ensuring your organization delivers high-value content to your audience.

Additionally, both ButterCMS and Wagtail offer robust analytics and reporting features, providing insights into content performance and user engagement. This data allows you to make data-driven decisions and optimize your content strategy for maximum impact.

Performance, Scalability, & Hosting

Performance and scalability are critical factors to consider when selecting a CMS. ButterCMS ensures optimal performance with its global Content Delivery Network (CDN) infrastructure, delivering content to users at lightning-fast speeds regardless of their geographic location. This ensures a seamless user experience, reducing bounce rates and improving conversion rates.

Wagtail, being a self-hosted CMS, allows you to have complete control over your hosting environment. This means that you can choose a hosting provider that meets your organization's specific requirements in terms of performance and scalability. With Wagtail, you have the flexibility to scale your hosting infrastructure as your website traffic grows.

Both CMSs prioritize performance optimization and provide caching mechanisms to reduce server load and improve page load speeds. This contributes to a positive user experience and better search engine rankings. Additionally, both CMSs offer responsive design options and image optimization features, ensuring fast loading times on various devices.

When it comes to security, ButterCMS and Wagtail implement robust measures to protect your content and user data. They offer secure hosting options, regular security updates, and encryption protocols to prevent unauthorized access. However, as self-hosted CMS, Wagtail provides you with additional control over your hosting infrastructure's security configurations, enabling you to implement custom security measures as per your organization's requirements.

Customization, Extensions, & Ecosystem

Customization and extensibility are important considerations to ensure that the CMS can adapt to your organization's unique requirements. ButterCMS provides a flexible and developer-friendly environment, allowing you to customize the CMS to align with your brand guidelines and design preferences. It offers a wide range of APIs and SDKs, enabling seamless integration with third-party tools and technologies.

Wagtail, being an open-source CMS, offers extensive customization options. Its modular architecture allows developers to create custom plugins and extensions to enhance the CMS's functionality. Additionally, Wagtail has a thriving community of developers, providing a wide range of pre-built plugins and extensions that can be easily integrated into your CMS setup.

Both CMSs offer a rich ecosystem of integrations with popular tools and services such as analytics platforms, marketing automation software, CRM systems, and e-commerce platforms. This allows you to leverage existing technologies and streamline your workflows.

However, it's important to note that while ButterCMS offers a comprehensive set of features and integrations, its ecosystem may not be as extensive as Wagtail's due to its focus on headless CMS capabilities. If your organization requires a wide variety of pre-built integrations, Wagtail's open-source nature may provide a more extensive ecosystem of plugins and integrations to choose from.

SEO, Marketing, & Monetization

Both ButterCMS and Wagtail prioritize search engine optimization (SEO) and provide features to help improve your website's visibility in search engine results. ButterCMS offers advanced SEO features, including automatic sitemaps, meta tags, and Open Graph tags. It also provides SEO-friendly URLs and customizable URL structures.

Wagtail, being a traditional CMS, offers similar SEO features, including customizable meta tags, sitemaps, and URL structures. Additionally, its built-in page hierarchy and content categorization features contribute to better SEO optimization and website structure.

When it comes to marketing and monetization, ButterCMS provides built-in tools for email marketing automation, lead capture forms, and A/B testing. These features enable you to engage your audience, capture leads, and optimize your marketing campaigns directly within the CMS platform.

Wagtail, being a flexible CMS, allows you to integrate with popular marketing automation platforms, CRM systems, and advertising networks. This provides you with the flexibility to leverage your existing marketing technology stack and tailor your marketing and monetization efforts according to your organization's specific needs.

Security & Compliance

Both ButterCMS and Wagtail take security and compliance seriously. ButterCMS ensures data security by encrypting sensitive information and providing secure hosting options. It also regularly updates its software to address any security vulnerabilities.

Wagtail, being open-source, benefits from community-driven security checks and updates. Its large developer community ensures that security vulnerabilities are identified and addressed promptly. Additionally, being self-hosted, Wagtail allows organizations to implement custom security measures, ensuring compliance with industry-specific regulations and standards.

Both CMSs provide features for user authentication and access control, allowing you to secure your content and define roles and permissions for various users. This level of control ensures that only authorized individuals can access and modify your content.

In terms of data privacy and compliance, both ButterCMS and Wagtail offer features that enable compliance with data protection regulations such as GDPR and CCPA. They provide tools for data anonymization, consent management, and granular control over user data.

Migration, Support, & Maintenance

When considering a CMS, it's essential to evaluate the migration process, ongoing support, and maintenance options. ButterCMS offers migration tools and services to help you seamlessly transition from your current CMS or website to their platform. Their dedicated support team is available to assist you throughout the migration process, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free transition.

Wagtail, being open-source, provides extensive documentation and resources to facilitate self-migration. Its strong developer community also offers support forums and resources to help you during the migration process. While migrating to Wagtail may require more technical expertise, the flexibility and customization options it provides can be highly beneficial in the long run.

In terms of ongoing support and maintenance, ButterCMS offers various support channels, including email support and a comprehensive knowledge base. They also provide regular software updates and bug fixes to ensure that your CMS remains secure and up to date.

Similarly, Wagtail provides community-driven support through forums and documentation. Additionally, there are several third-party agencies and developers who offer professional support and maintenance services for Wagtail. Depending on your organization's requirements, you can choose the level of support that best fits your needs.


In conclusion, both ButterCMS and Wagtail are powerful CMSs with a range of features and capabilities. The choice between the two ultimately depends on your organization's specific needs and preferences.

If you prioritize simplicity, ease of use, and a headless CMS architecture, ButterCMS may be the ideal choice. It offers a user-friendly interface, scalability, and customization options, making it perfect for non-technical users and developers who want full control over the front-end design.

On the other hand, if you require an all-in-one solution with extensive customization options and a strong developer community, Wagtail may be the better fit. It offers a traditional CMS experience with built-in front-end editing, advanced user management features, and a wide range of plugins and integrations.

Ultimately, thoroughly evaluating your organization's content management needs, scalability requirements, design preferences, and budget constraints will help you make an informed decision. Both ButterCMS and Wagtail are highly capable CMSs that can effectively support your organization's content management and delivery goals.


Martin Dejnicki
Martin Dejnicki

Martin is a digital product innovator and pioneer who built and optimized his first website back in 1996 when he was 16 years old. Since then, he has helped many companies win in the digital space, including Walmart, IBM, Rogers, Canada Post, TMX Group and TD Securities. Recently, he worked with the Deploi team to build an elegant publishing platform for creative writers and a novel algorithmic trading platform.