When it comes to web development, there are so many options that people tend to get confused. If you’re here because you’re having difficulty choosing between Ruby on Rails and WordPress, then you’re not the first one. On one hand, you have WordPress popularity and on the other, is the flexibility that ROR offers.
In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of WordPress and Ruby on Rails and make recommendations based on the use cases.
What is Ruby on Rails?
Ruby on Rails (RoR) is a server-side web application framework. It is written in Ruby (programming language) and uses MVC architectural pattern. Launched in 2004, a year after WordPress, Ruby on Rails is an open-source and free framework. It can be used to create both simple and complex applications and has a massive library of gems to bridge the gap between your Rails app and external services. Many large organizations including GitHub, Scribd, Airbnb, and Hulu use Rails web development.
Ruby on Rails emphasizes two principles, DRY (Don’t Repeat yourself) and CoC (Convention over Configuration). The DRY principle aims to eliminate code repetition via abstraction. CoC attempts to minimize the number of decisions that a developer makes without losing flexibility.
In recent years, the Rails community took a major hit as some large platforms including Twitter opted for the latest technologies like Scala, Go, or Rust. Despite the decline, Rails is still used by 7% of the web framework developers and stands among the most beloved web frameworks.
What is WordPress?
The first thing that we frequently hear about WordPress is that it’s not a programming language. In 2003, WordPress was launched as a simple blogging platform, which later transformed into the majestic website builder and CMS that we know and love today.
WordPress is an open-source CMS (Content Management System) that is written in PHP paired with MySQL and MariaDB. Since it’s open-source software, you can customize (with some development experience) it in nearly any way.
In terms of popularity, WordPress is powering no less than 39.5% of websites on the internet. It has an expanding community with a growing number of users every day. Since WordPress is leading the CMS market with a market share of 64.1, it’s easy to find support or advice from another developer in the WordPress community.
For beginners, WordPress is easy to start, and for PHP developers, it’s a very powerful tool.
Ruby on Rails Vs. WordPress: Which One is Easy to Learn?
It’s usually better to hire a developer to handle web development, especially if you’re creating a complex application. However, if you want to create a simple (or complex) website yourself, then this section is for you
WordPress is very easy to learn and implement, and shouldn’t take more than a few hours of persistent work to master. You can even find free video tutorials and relevant resources on Youtube and other websites. WordPress offers a number of templates, to begin with. Playing with templates requires some experience with PHP for WordPress. Ideally, you should hire a developer to customize WordPress templates.
Compared to WordPress, Ruby on Rails is difficult to learn. To work with Rails, you need to learn Ruby (programming language) first. To begin, you also need some programming knowledge and experience. Starting with an online course from a platform like Udemy and Skillshare is ideal, but you can also find free learning resources on Youtube and other websites.
With Rails, there is a steep learning curve, but it’s said to be easy to master.
WordPress is easy to learn and use, and offers a huge range of resources. For a simple website, it’s easy to learn and use.
Ruby on Rails Vs. WordPress: UI (User Interface)
In the user interface, we need to explore interfaces for both admins (admin panel) and end-users (user interface).
WordPress offers a great admin dashboard also known as WP admin or WP admin panel. It’s pretty easy to get the hang of various options, and you will be navigating the dashboard seamlessly in no time. There are many templates available for the admin interface in a Rails application. For example, SB Admin Ruby on Rails, Atlas Admin, PLAB, etc.
In WordPress, themes can be used to create the user interface. WordPress offers plenty of options in both free and paid themes, templates, and plugins. You may notice a lack of features in the free options, but the paid themes offer far more out-of-the-box functionalities. The front-end development of a Ruby on Rails website needs to be coded manually starting with a UI design first. Although, you can use RubyGems (collection of Rails libraries) to make the design process easier.
Ruby on Rails Vs. WordPress: Performance
Website performance depends on various factors such as your hosting, code, plugins, etc. Let’s take a look at both Rails and WordPress and what factors affect performance in each.
In comparison, WordPress websites have the capacity to perform great, but only if they’re properly maintained. Creating a simple website with WordPress is extremely easy. However, maintaining performance while scaling can be an issue here. WordPress is flexible but not as flexible as a custom-coded website with a framework like Ruby on Rails.
The main reasons behind the poor performance of a WordPress site include:
- Slow, poor-quality hosting that is inadequate for your website traffic.
- Lack of a CDN (content delivery network).
- Slow or out-of-date plugins.
- No caching data or caching plugins.
- Use of an older PHP version.
- Not utilizing the HTTPS protocol.
On the other hand, since Ruby on Rails websites are custom-built, no plugins are involved. This means that it will take longer to create the application, but it will be easier to maintain ad scale over time. Also, since the code is your own, and you won’t be using plugins, there’s a small chance of someone else’s code slowing down your website.
Ruby on Rails Vs. WordPress: Ease of Use
In terms of ease of use, WordPress is the clear winner. It’s an open-source project where many developers are involved which means quick updates. Updates include new features, security fixes, themes, and WordPress plugins updates, etc. However, WordPress updates can become downgrades when they end up creating new errors. You can get ahead of the game by making a backup, updating in a staged environment, and testing thoroughly before releasing the update on the live site.
Additionally, WordPress offers plenty of templates, themes, and plugins, both free and paid. This means that you don’t need to handle the entire front-end design.
Ruby on Rails has a user-friendly syntax and emphasizes the DRY (Do Not Repeat Yourself), which makes development easy. However, ROR does not have all the extras that WordPRess offers such as themes, plugins, and templates.
Ruby on Rails Vs. WordPress: Scalability
At the end of the day, WordPress is an excellent CMS platform and a great tool to create MVP (Minimum Viable Product) or a proof-of-concept. If your product requirements aren’t expected to grow tremendously over time, then WordPress is the right tool for you. However, if you want to avoid hitting brick walls as the product matures, a custom application would be the best way to go.
Ruby on Rails Vs. WordPress: Cost
Cost is one of the most important considerations when developing a web application. Let’s take a look at how much it typically costs to develop a WordPress and ROR website.
WordPress is free and open-source (can’t argue with that)! All you need is a hosting platform and your website can go live within minutes. Additionally, if you’re low on funds, you can start for free by hosting your website on WordPress.com. Even the paid options are pretty good, and you can have more customization options and serve ads for $100 per year.
With WordPress, anyone can create websites, however a WordPress specialist is always recommended if you want a fast, secure and hassle-free website. Even though WordPress is cost-efficient, some maintenance cost is always inevitable.
Ruby on Rails is also free and open-source, but unlike WordPress, you need significant development experience to create a website with Rails. Additionally, there’s always some maintenance cost to consider especially during the initial stage.
Rails professionals usually charge between $80-100 per hour depending on the engagement type such as temp, freelance, and part-time. Full-time Rails developers have an average salary of $94,427 per year. Compared to WordPress developers, ROR and Ruby developers charge a higher price.
Between WordPress and Rails, WordPress is the budget-friendly option.
Ruby on Rails Vs. WordPress: Web Hosting
Web hosting is another important consideration when you want to launch a website. You need to host your website with a reliable hosting company.
WordPress websites are usually lightweight and use fewer resources, but that’s not the best part. What makes WordPress great for beginners is the fact that you can host your website for free on WordPress.org. On top of that, WordPress also offers multiple other affordable hosting plans including Personal and Premium. Since WordPress websites are lightweight, they can also be hosted on a shared hosting plan at an affordable price, and securely scale later. For web hosting WordPress recommends the following providers:
However for more advanced WordPress websites, where speed and security are necessary our team recommends:
Ruby on Rails websites are usually large-scale and use more resources. Unlike WordPress, Rails is a framework and doesn’t offer free or paid web hosting plans. For a Rails website, a VPS (virtual private server) is the best option. It will ensure that your website loads fast, but it won’t come as cheap as WordPress hosting.
Ruby on Rails Vs. WordPress: SEO
Whether you maintain a gardening blog or an eCommerce store, SEO is unavoidable. Customers no longer stumble across great products by accident. Rather businesses spend hundreds of thousands of dollars just to get in touch with them. And what better way to reach new customers than SEO (search engine optimization).
WordPress has most of the SEO functionalities built-in. For SEO optimization, it offers plugins such as Yoast that can help boost search rankings. Configuring a plugin is quite easy and its performance depends on factors such as the plugin, hosting provider, etc. Most of the SEO plugins on WordPress offer free functionality, and even the free version can be an awesome tool to optimize.
Some popular SEO plugins include:
- AIO (All in One) SEO Pack
- SEO Squirrely
Ruby on Rails is not exactly a CMS, so it doesn’t come equipped with SEO plugins. To optimize your Rails site for SEO, you will need to do it manually. For example, by using an SEO-friendly URL, meta tags, structuring data, etc.
Ruby on Rails Vs. WordPress: Community
With a large user base, both WordPress and Ruby on Rails boast an active community. On most forums, WordPress queries and issues get the largest audience and some programmer is always around to offer his help and perspective.
Although WordPress is more widely used, and much easier to implement, it’s the community is larger than that of ROR. With a large user base, you can expect to find more support, more developers, themes, blog posts, and video tutorials.
Ruby on Rails Vs. WordPress: For Businesses
When it comes to the use cases in the business scenario, WordPress and ROR are suitable for different types of businesses. This makes it easier for business owners to choose one option over the other depending on the type of business you’re running. For example, if you want to develop a SAAS platform or an application with backend processes, then ROR is the best choice. On the other hand, blogging websites and business marketing pages with good-looking front end and core features are better for WordPress.
Is It Possible to Use Both WordPress and Ruby on Rails?
If this is your first time developing a website, then you may be wondering, why not combine WordPress and Ruby on Rails to get the best of both worlds. Though it may sound like a great idea, it’s not tactical when it comes to implementation.
Firstly, the programming languages for ROR and WordPress are different. WordPress uses PHP whereas ROR uses the Ruby programming language. Not only is it impossible to combine the two technologies, but you will also need to learn both from scratch.
There’s one scenario where you can use both WordPress and Ruby on Rails. Since ROR is a web application framework, you can create both front-end and back-end with it. You can create a web app with ROR and power the front-end with WordPress. Although, this will complicate the web application code vastly, and we do not recommend it.
Ruby on Rails Vs. WordPress – Verdict
WordPress and Ruby on Rails are both great technologies in themselves. Choosing one over another is as simple as analyzing the requirement of the project. If the project is not big, nor requires sudden decisions, and has limited functionality, then go for WordPress. Otherwise, for a big project with lots of functionalities, Ruby on Rails is the right choice.