Custom vs Open Source Content Management Systems: Which Is Best?

The choice between a custom content management system (CMS) and an open source CMS such as WordPress or Drupal is an important one. An informed decision made now will prevent costly problems and changes in the future. So which is best? The short answer is that neither choice is best for everyone. What is best for you will depend on your plans and requirements. Once you know what they are, then the following descriptions of both types of content management systems will help to guide your choice.

The Open Source Content Management System:

It’s Free

In terms of direct monetary cost, you certainly can’t beat the price tag. Those not familiar with open source software might argue that you get what you pay for. However, if you choose the right open source CMS, what you get free is reliable and well maintained software that has evolved over the years to meet the needs of an enormous user base.

It Has a Large Developer Base

That is, a popular open source CMS will have a large developer base. WordPress for example, has a huge and talented developer community. This means there are more eyes available to view and improve the code. This also means that bugs and vulnerabilities are quickly spotted and corrected.

Lone individual developers and small teams don’t benefit from the large-scale community engagement of open source. A large open source community also means that you benefit from the enormous choice of plugins and extensions that are independently built.

It Is Regularly Updated

Again, this is true of a popular CMS. A large and active developer community means it’s proactive about code improvement and vulnerability patches. WordPress for example, has rendered many of its old and popular plugins obsolete by incorporating their functionality directly into its CMS. Popular plugins are but one form of user feedback which the WordPress community responds to if it is generally useful to everyone.

It Is Often Easily Adapted

If your requirements aren’t quite met by a popular CMS, you can hire the services of its specialists. The more popular the CMS, the larger the pool of specialist developers for hire who can adapt the CMS to your requirements.

No Single Web Developer Can Hold You Hostage

Popular content management systems have a large supply of web developer specialists. If you have a falling-out with your WordPress web developer, you will find plenty of other web developers who are fluent with WordPress. This is usually not the case with a CMS that was custom-made for you by a single developer.

Rapid Website Deployment

If you, an employee, or a web developer is proficient with an open source CMS, you can rapidly deploy your website in a matter of hours or days.

The Custom Content Management System:

You Get Exactly What You Want

If you have exacting requirements that aren’t readily met by the available open source content management systems, then you will need a CMS that is custom-made to your specifications. You know (from research or experience) that any compromise will reduce the efficiency of running your website and will reduce its profitability.

Your branding may also require a website with a precise look and functionality that isn’t available from an open source CMS. Sometimes, forcing an open source CMS to do things it wasn’t meant to do incurs more development time and costs than building the website and its CMS from scratch.

Your Website Will Be a Smaller Target for Hackers and Spammers

By targeting a popular open source CMS such as WordPress, spammers and hackers are automatically familiar with the structure and software used by a large class of websites. This kind of specialization has a larger payoff than singling out one-of-a-kind websites with unique content management systems.

On the other hand, the popular open source content management systems are battle tested. The custom-made CMS may have several as yet undiscovered security flaws.

You Have the Benefit of Customer Service

The open source community does not answer to any single user of their CMS. This means you are left to your own devices for solving problems and modifying the CMS to meet your unique requirements. While there are lots of online troubleshooting information available, research of this kind is time intensive and is often a hit-or-miss effort. However, the developer of a customized CMS should provide you with this kind of support.

On the other hand, a hired developer specializing in an open source CMS, will also provide this kind of personalized customer support.

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About the Author

Jennifer Cooley

Applied Innovations is a managed hosting provider that cares about the customers and businesses it supports. Experience the difference a managed vps hosting provider can provide your business.