Laravel vs WordPress

Laravel and WordPress often show up in various discussions. They often relate to running e-commerce stores or blog-like sites, but the list is far from complete. They’re mentioned for a reason – both approaches are extremely popular and can be used for the same types of sites. How do you pick between WordPress and Laravel then? That’s what we’re here to help you with.

WordPress & Laravel – what are they?

WordPress is an open-source content management system (CMS) that was released back in 2003. It’s based on PHP and MySQL and is free to use.

WP is powered by a theme-based system and follows the plugin architecture, offering its users over 55,000 plugins enhancing the themes and offering new functionalities.

It’s the world’s most popular CMS and an estimated 35% of sites on the internet run on WordPress.

Laravel, on the other hand, is a free open-source PHP framework launched in 2011. It follows a feature-package architecture and is based on the Symfony 2 framework and Model View Controller (MVC) architecture.

Laravel was launched with the aim of tackling complex tasks more easily and building advanced web applications more quickly. And it’s gained traction in the developer community quickly too, quickly becoming the most popular PHP framework.

What are the benefits of using them?

Each has its faithful fanbase, and for good reason. They’re both constantly developed, the number of resources around grows, and they’re still a favorite pick for thousands of developers out there. Here’s why:

WordPress:

  • Search engine friendly
  • Integrated link management
  • A WYSIWYG editor for publishing content
  • Easy to use for non-tech users
  • Very shallow learning curve
  • Quick to deliver an MVP because of ready-to-use templates
  • Cost-effective
  • Huge community around it with a multitude of resources
  • Easy integration with external platforms with the use of plugins

Laravel:

  • Developer-friendly structure
  • Large community and tons of available packages
  • Reasonable learning curve (steeper than WordPress, but shallower than most other frameworks)
  • Out-of-the-box integration with frontend
  • Very flexible and easily extendable
  • Extensive and easy-to-grasp documentation
  • Seamless database migration
  • Built-in authentication and enhanced security
  • Completely customizable

As you can see, both come with lots of distinct advantages. Which one will work best for you will heavily depend on what you expect from such a platform and what your particular use case is. Let’s explore the most common scenarios then.

Laravel or WordPress for an eCommerce store?

Both systems have given birth to thousands of online stores, because of the large number of plugins that make launching an online store a pleasant experience, rather than a very long and complex task.

Automattic, the company behind WordPress, acquired its most popular e-commerce plugin – Woocommerce – back in 2015. Since then, it’s made it an integral part of WordPress, making it simple to launch an online store in just minutes. It comes with support for products, themes, offers, built-in payment getaways, reports, and other things. 

It’s got everything you need to sell online without any tech-savviness. And, if for some reason you’re not happy with Woocommerce, there are dozens of other eCommerce plugins available free of charge. 

Building a store in Laravel is definitely more complex, but it also gives you more opportunities for customization. The store functionalities are there already, Aimeons or Bagisto being some of the most popular eCommerce packages. They add all the functionalities you need to run a store, large or small. And, if something is missing, Laravel makes it easy to add features and scale the business as it grows.

So which one should you choose? Most businesses should be perfectly fine running their store on WordPress. It’s got everything you need and is super simple to set up.

However, if you’re building a very large store, featuring thousands of products, you may want to consider a more custom project made with Laravel. Laravel deals better with complex solutions, and stores built with this method load faster and make for better user experience.

Laravel or WordPress for a web application?

Both Laravel and WordPress are perfectly fine for many web apps. But, the more complex a project gets, the more obvious advantages of using an MVC framework over a CMS become.

Laravel brings to the table a lot of built-in features that ease the development – authentication, advanced routing, error and exception handling. And what’s not already included comes with a magnitude of packages for much easier development. Laravel applications are also easy to scale up and down according to changing needs.

WordPress can handle some of these functionalities with plugins, but the more add-ons you use, the slower the site gets. What’s more, at some point you’ll encounter some limitations that may turn out to be difficult to breach. Although building with Laravel is more complex and time consuming, you’ll enjoy the freedom of building exactly what your project needs.

This is not to say that WordPress is not good for anything more than landing pages. Many popular brands use WordPress as a base for their sites, and they’re not only about news and blogging. Take Spotify and BBC America as examples.

Building a web application on WordPress is also great for an MVP. With the use of thousands of free and paid themes, you can set up a sophisticated website in a few hours tops. If that’s all you need, because, for example, everything happens in a mobile app, WordPress is a perfect approach. For anything more complex, Laravel may well be a better idea.

Laravel of WordPress for a blog or a news site?

Here, the choice is much simpler. WordPress was built with content sharing in mind. Today, many news outlets, and probably the vast majority of all online blogs, are powered by WP.

WordPress makes it very easy to create and share content, to categorize and tag it, to upload media, and so on. It’s also very accessible to non-technical users, and setting up a simple blog takes minutes. 

Of course, you could recreate all these features with Laravel, and there are even packages that can help you with that. But does it really make sense if you can have it all at a much lower cost and way faster?

What’s more, WordPress comes with a handy, free Yoast plugin that takes care of SEO for you. Since blogs and news outlets rely heavily on organic search, this makes for an important advantage of WordPress sites.

There can be use cases for Laravel too, but this will be with more complex development. For example, if content sharing is just one of the many features of a platform and everything else needs to be built from the ground up, it makes sense to commit to Laravel for an entire project.

Comparing both in more detail

Now, let’s put both platforms next to each other to see which stakes better where.

WordPress Laravel
Speed
WP sites can be heavily slowed down as the number of plugins grows. Having unoptimized code floating around can strengthen the effects. However, choosing well written plugins and limiting their numbers can make a site quite fast.
Laravel uses Eloquent ORM for writing database queries and it makes it blazing fast. It’s one of the fastest frameworks and one of the many reasons developers choose this environment for their work.
Performance
WordPress suffers at times from long site loads and poor performance of certain add-ons. It looks better on simpler sites but complex solutions, if not optimized, can be a hurdle.
Laravel was built to handle complex tasks. It’s built-in features give plenty of functionalities and these can be bolstered with tons of available packages.
SEO
WP offers a straightforward way of making your content search engine friendly. WordPress sites typically perform well in searches.
Laravel doesn’t come with any out-of-the-box SEO features. There are a number of resources available to optimize the content, though.
Security
Security is one of the main issues of WordPress as a number of vulnerabilities have been discovered (and addressed) in the past. This applies mainly to downloadable plugins and themes that are mainly beyond Automattic’s control. WP has improved a lot in this aspect over the years, though.
Laravel comes with advanced security features built-into the framework. This includes robust authentication mechanics, password encryption, routes protection and shielding from the most common threats.
Ease of use
It doesn’t get much easier than that. WordPress is really easy to set up, and themes and plugins make it accessible for the masses. A newbie to WordPress can grasp the basics in maybe 10 minutes.
Laravel is a framework for developers and it requires a certain level of experience to grasp even its main concept. But in the developer community, it’s still considered to be one of the most intuitive and easy to use frameworks.
Development time
With ready themes, in WordPress it’s very easy to get the site running. Customizations will take a bit longer but for the undemanding project, the development time is very satisfactory.
Laravel projects take much longer to build, of course, as they need to be constructed from scratch. But with the abundance of resources and a large community around it, skilled devs can significantly cut their development time.
Cost-effectiveness
WordPress is free to use, themes are inexpensive or even free. Custom projects will of course cost more accordingly but, in general, WordPress is considered to be one of the most cost-effective ways of getting a web app up and running.
Laravel sites require an investment of resources as do any development projects. In this aspect, they can’t compete with WP. Laravel resources are also, in general, more expensive than WordPress-based ones.
Scalability
Scaling web apps with WordPress can be problematic. Adding more and more add-ons slows the site down and options for customization are limited.
Laravel is a dream come true when thinking about scalability. Due to its modular constructions, developers can shape an architecture right from the start and freely modify it as the project grows.

How to send emails with Laravel and WordPress

We wouldn’t be ourselves if we didn’t touch on email sending functionality. After all, it’s a vital feature of nearly any web application, and Mailtrap helps thousands of WordPress and Laravel users test their emails.

Sending emails in WordPress can happen via default PHP mail() function, but we don’t recommend this approach. You’ll experience poor deliverability and lots of emails will end up in spam folders.

A much better approach is with plugins. There are a number of free resources for general email sending. All of the respectable ESPs, such as SendGrid or Mailchimp, also provide their own plugins for sending emails via their platforms. We’ve got this covered in more detail in our article on WordPress SMTP Settings.

Laravel provides built-in email functionality using the popular SwiftMailer library. It’s used by thousands of web apps, and usually results in some really good performance.

Laravel creators recommend using one of the API-based drivers, such as SparkPost or Amazon SES. You can also utilize a free Gmail account, but the performance may be affected. Check out our guide to sending emails in Laravel for more detail.

Can Laravel and WordPress be used together?

There’s a consistent interest in combining both platforms for a single web application. This can prove particularly useful if you’re developing a web application that will be used by someone else (typically a client).

WordPress is famous for its simplicity and typical Laravel backends take quite some effort to get a hold of. That’s why some developers choose to combine both – WordPress admin and Laravel-based platform that takes care of the frontend. This way, everyone can control the content through the backend without much additional training. At the same time, the site enjoys the high concurrency of Laravel (compared to WordPress) and, as a result, a much better performance.

It’s not the most straightforward thing to do, but it is definitely doable. You’ll find several possible approaches in this post from Laravel-news.com.

Wrapping up

Laravel and WordPress are very different platforms, but can be used for the same things, with a lot of success. 

When looking at the performance, scalability or speed, Laravel beats WordPress by a mile. Automattic’s product takes revenge when we focus on ease of use, cost, and SEO. Each has its distinct advantages, so no wonder they’re also used together on various occasions.

We hope we managed to make the choice easier for you and that you’ll now be able to make an informed decision. 

Until next time!