HubSpot has modules, WordPress has plugins. They both have a lot of similarities, but come in very different packages. Before we dive into the differences, let’s summarize what makes up a module and a plugin.
What is a HubSpot Module?
A HubSpot module is intended to be a group of editable content objects that maintain their style across individual templates and pages on HubSpot’s COS, while still allowing marketers to control the specific content appearing within those modules on a page-by-page basis. If you’re familiar with the Atomic Design Methodology, modules are the molecules and/or organisms. They are one level deeper than templates if you will.
In other words, they are small chunks of content that can be easily changed. They can be anything from a popup module, to social sharing buttons, or even a parallax hero banner.
What is a WordPress Plugin?
WordPress plugins, according to WordPress, are “intended to extend the core functionality of WordPress”. Already, we can tell that plugins have a much broader scope than a HubSpot module. Plugins can basically do anything to WordPress. For this very reason, you should be careful when installing plugins willy nilly and only use plugins from reputable sources. WordPress plugins can enable something as minor as changing the admin’s theme, or something massive like enabling an entire forum software on your site, or something more common like adding new “widgets” to your website like our social sharing widget. Which leads us to the obvious next question…
What are widgets?
Originally, widgets were designed to be blocks of global content that could be added to a website’s sidebar. This was back in the day when all websites had sidebars and were designed in Microsoft FrontPage ?. Today, widgets are the things on your website that can be edited using the customizer to give you more control over your site’s layout and design. Widgets are the primary tools that are used when you want a custom home page design for example.
Sound familiar? That’s because they are a lot like HubSpot modules.
So let’s review: a plugin can do anything. A plugin sometimes contains widgets. A widget is like a module. We good? Just a little confused? Awesome.
Open vs Closed Systems
Comparing WordPress plugins and HubSpot modules is a lot like the classic Android vs. iOS debate. The former is open, which gives everyone a ton of power. But, like when Uncle Ben tried to warn Peter, there is a lot of responsibility with power. Since it’s completely open, anyone can wield that power as desired. This fact alone opens the door to a whole lot of potential issues if you’re not careful.
On the other hand, HubSpot’s modules are only as powerful as HubSpot says they are. HubSpot controls everything from the server they run on, to what functions can be used in the module itself. This closed approach comes with its own set of trade-offs. They may not be as powerful as WordPress plugins, but they do offer more stability and less surprises in terms of what can go wrong. They also make things extremely easy for developers so it takes less time to create them.
The HubSpot Marketplace
HubSpot has had their Marketplace for a while now. But it wasn’t until just a few weeks ago that they opened it up to custom modules. At the time of this writing there are only 43 modules available.
One of the cool features HubSpot has built into the marketplace is the ability to test a module before you install it, which is great! Try it out before you clutter up your design manager for no reason.
The WordPress Plugin Directory
The plugin directory is probably one of the largest directories of it’s kind with over 55k+ plugins available. You can search for just about anything and almost always find something that will do what you want. But, this is also where most WordPress sites get into trouble. Like I mentioned before, plugins have a ton of power and not all of them are built to very high standards. They can quickly slow your server down and clutter your admin with popups and ads.
So… Which One is Better?
WordPress has issues with quality control, while HubSpot just doesn’t have that many options to choose from. On the bright side, it’s only a matter of time before HubSpot has a larger module library. WordPress and it’s Gutenberg initiative has a lot of potential to make a vast amount of plugins obsolete which will partially fix the quality control issues. Google has even started dedicating employees to work on WordPress which can only be a good thing.
At the end of the day, there’s not a single clear winner and it’s a bit of an apples to oranges comparison. They both have a lot of unique benefits and their own sets of issues. If you’ve got a differing opinion, I’d love to hear it in the comments.
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