Sitecore vs Optimizely


Sitecore and Optimizely are two of the industry’s most popular enterprise digital experience platforms (DXP). Both have delivered stellar results for enterprise clients across the globe and share many similarities in terms of architecture and database management. Despite all their similarities, they’re not exactly equal; more importantly, they serve different uses.

Since Oshyn is both a Sitecore and Optimizely (formerly Episerver) partner, we get asked about how they stack up against each other often. In this article, we compare the two and give you the information you need to make the best decision for your company.

Meet The Contenders: Sitecore vs. Optimizely

Let’s take a closer look at both DXPs to understand more about who they are, what their core offers, and their architecture.



Dating from 2001, Sitecore began as CMS and has evolved into a DXP that offers enterprise companies an all-in-one content and ecommerce platform that includes a personalization platform for granular 1:1 customer experiences.

Sitecore is an integration-friendly platform that offers enterprise users a consistent, cutting-edge experience for both users and visitors. Sitecore products are based on .NET, and they are all ready to work with the SQL-based Sitecore Experience Database as its customer data management platform. It also allows for integrating third-party software using the API-based xConnect service layer for maximum flexibility and scalability.

Sitecore can be used as a Platform as a Service (PaaS), enabling enterprise companies to ramp up the number of users without worrying about external servers or CDNs and reducing the need for enterprise businesses to host the solution on physical, on-premises servers, thus enhancing Sitecore’s scalability and flexibility.

Sitecore offers the following tools and integrable platforms:

  • Sitecore Content Hub
  • Sitecore Experience Platform
  • Sitecore Experience Manager
  • Sitecore Experience Commerce



Dating from 1994, Optimizely—known as Episerver until January 2021—is an enterprise software platform that offers web content management, ecommerce, and marketing tools through the Optimizely DXP.

Optimizely combines content, commerce, omnichannel marketing, and predictive analytics in a single platform to work full-circle for enterprises, delivering intelligent real-time personalization and lead generation. The Optimizely REST API allows users to manage their Optimizely projects using code and integrate with third-party software as a headless DXP.

Optimizely is notable for its simplicity and ease of use, something that’s not often a given in the enterprise sector, and for its ability to support marketing teams and enable global ecommerce brands to establish an omnichannel digital presence.

Optimizely offers the following tools and integrable platforms:

  • Optimizely DXP
  • Optimizely Content Cloud
  • Optimizely Commerce Cloud
  • Optimizely B2B/B2C Commerce
  • Optimizely Intelligence Cloud

Sitecore and Optimizely: Technology Profile

Optimizely Sitecore
Source Code Proprietary Proprietary
Web Framework .NET .NET
Programming Language C# C#
Database Server SQL SQL

Why Choose Sitecore Over Optimizely

While Optimizely is definitely a solid tool, some users believe it lacks enterprise-grade features. It shares the same drawbacks as Adobe in terms of the fragmented nature of its other core offerings, which makes it harder to wield and even harder to integrate with other tools, including those within the Optimizely umbrella.

Although most of Optimizely’s offerings rest on Episerver’s already sturdy backbone as a battle-tested DXP, the flurry of acquisitions that led to Optimizely’s acquisition and the subsequent rebranding has shaken things and users are known to experience bugs and integration issues.

Here’s a list of pitfalls users might find when enlisting Optimizely as their DXP.

Lacks Thorough Documentation

Several Optimizely users across different review sites such as G2, Capterra, and TrustRadius have stated that while Optimizely has solid documentation, it’s not as thorough as one would expect from an enterprise DXP. They sometimes lack examples and video demos —something other DXPs like Sitecore have in abundance.

Small Partner Ecosystem

Optimizely has three different kinds of partners (solution, technology, and platform) and plenty of agencies and service providers to choose from. Yet, the platform simply doesn’t have the sheer number of partners as in the Sitecore ecosystem. Optimizely is actively trying to integrate more partners into its ecosystem but, there aren’t as many options as in Sitecore, this can lead to vendor lock if your partner does not perform up to your expectations.

Doesn’t Come With Out-of-The-Box Integrations

As a DXP, Optimizely is a very bare-bones one, and while it’s true that it integrates well with third-party software, you need to integrate it with other Optimizely software to get the most of it. While this isn’t a sin per se in the DXP world, it can still complicate things for enterprises looking to get certain functionalities out of the box and those who want more from their DXP.

Why Choose Optimizely Over Sitecore?

Better Editor Experience

From a content editor perspective, Optimizely can be easier to work with than Sitecore. Sitecore Experience Editor, for instance, while similar to Optimizely’s, doesn’t offer the ease of use that Optimizely’s offers. Some users in review aggregation sites have stated that Sitecore Experience Editor can sometimes be buggy, and while the new Horizon editing interface promises to alleviate some of these issues for Sitecore, it still has a ways to go to give editors access to all the features of the CMS available in Content or Experience editor.

Yet, these potential fixes may not be enough to help content editors. Optimizely, on the other hand, can be seen as a bit less flashy in terms of features, but it enables developers to create and test content in the same interface as the editors use (edit mode) and leave it ready for publication without developers.

Comparatively Faster Time To Market

It only takes one look under the hood to see that Sitecore’s architecture is more complex than Optimizely’s. While these complexities can work wonders for some clients, it makes things more cumbersome for others. In fact, Sitecore deployments can be twice as time-consuming as Optimizely’s, and if we’re talking about platform upgrades, the number is also high.

On the other hand, Optimizely offers enterprises a lower cost to market as it enables users to do more with less features, especially when compared to Sitecore, whose users won’t probably use all the features they’re paying for.

The Verdict

Both platforms are similarly robust and deliver on their promise of empowering enterprise companies in their journey towards digital transformation. However, there are a few places where Sitecore shines brighter than Optimizely.

For instance, when it comes to integrations, that means that all the products in Optimizely’s DXP umbrella are still siloed rather than seamlessly integrated. On the other hand, Sitecore’s products are all integrable with one another and really work as a unified system.

Despite this apparent disconnect between Optimizely’s offerings, every user still regarded it as an easy-to-use platform that doesn’t require as much muscle as Sitecore, reducing implementation times and expenses related to partners and technology. This could come in handy for enterprise businesses as it frees IT teams from maintenance and migration tasks that an agency or the in-house development team could take on.

If you want a robust DXP that’s capable of everything and more, Sitecore is the choice for you. If you’re looking for a platform with a no-nonsense approach to content management, and you’re looking to integrate it with other third parties and have no need for out-of-the-box integrations, Optimizely is the right solution.

Choosing the right DXP for your company isn’t a decision that can be taken lightly. Choosing the wrong one will set your company thousands or even millions of dollars back and will mean substantial time and manpower losses due to faulty implementation issues.

The good news is that you don’t have to make that decision on your own. Oshyn is an Optimizely and Sitecore partner, and our team has the experience to guide you through the decision process, ensuring that you select the right platform to help you get your business to the next level.

If you want to learn more about Oshyn’s Optimizely and Sitecore services, check any of the links below: