CMS: Bespoke Vs. Open Source (WordPress etc)
Open Source Content Management Systems (CMSs) have changed the way that people go about creating websites quite possibly forever. Take WordPress for example. Over the last decade it has absolutely exploded in popularity, being used to create sites for amateur bloggers and professional web developers alike.
It’s become truly massive in fact. It was reported by the ManageWP Blog last year that a staggering 74.6 million sites out there were dependent upon WordPress.
There is of course good reason for WordPress’s popularity, and other CMSs like Drupal and Joomla! for that matter. The fact is that they have been designed to be user friendly and intuitive (especially WordPress). They are fast and streamlined, and pretty much anybody with only the very basic of IT skills could have their very own blog or website up and running in under an hour.
However, despite the obvious benefits of using an open source or even premium version of these much-favoured CMSs – sometimes they just simply won’t do everything that you want them to, in which case a bespoke solution is the better option.
For one thing, you will have much greater control over your site with a bespoke solution, and your back-end will be completely customised to your requirements. In a lot of cases, WordPress or something similar will do everything that you want it to – and you can even hire in a professional developer to add a few extra bells and whistles if you so wish (not to mention purchasing a few extra plugins). But, in the end, it will come down to the nature of your business and what you want your site to look like and do that will ultimately guide your decision.
So, let’s pit the two against each other to give you a better idea of which solution will be right for you…
The Benefits Of An Open Source CMS (like WordPress)
- It’s Free
Being open source means that it is free to use, and, usually, there will be a number of templates that you can choose from to start creating a very professional looking site. There are of course upgrade options which will allow you to tailor your site even further, and to do so will of course still be far cheaper than hiring a professional to build your CMS from scratch.
A bespoke solution will cost you to set up, and cost you even more to maintain.
- Flexibility To Change Website Hosting
You may find that your site starts its life running at an agreeable speed with few security problems. But, after a while, things slow down and you’ve had an increasing amount of spam finding its way into your site. With an open-source CMS, you will have the freedom and flexibility to move your site onto a different hosting platform to try and fix this problem.
Bespoke agencies often do not let you do this, and that can sometimes lead to website inefficiencies that might not ever get resolved.
- Free To Start Again Whenever You Want
There is no contract when you go with an open source plan. This means that you can try out as many different CMSs that you like without being tied to any until you have found the right one, or indeed just move to another at a later date if you so wish.
With a bespoke solution, you will be tied in as your developer’s client forever. They will have created their own CMS via their own IP address – so you’ll be stuck, even if things go sour.
- Free Regular Updates
The teams behind open source CMSs are constantly working hard on security issues, and thusly release free updates regularly in order to patch any holes or bugs that they find that might be exploited by cybercriminals. With the likes of WordPress for example, with its millions of users, it is nearly always being further developed, which means that it evolves with the times, and keeps up with the current wants and needs of the customer.
With a bespoke package, there is often no guarantee that the agency that has designed your site will be providing you with as many updates – they might not even do any at all once the job is done, and certainly not for free.
The Benefits Of A Bespoke CMS Solution
- Designed To Function Exactly As You Want It To
Right from the word go, you will be able to work with your developer to create something that functions and behaves exactly like you want it to. One of the great benefits of this is that your backend will not be chock full of features and menu items that you never use. As such, your CMS can actually be rather lightweight and even more intuitive than something like WordPress.
With an open source CMS you’re pretty much stuck with what you’ve got, and if you don’t like it or can’t get on with it then you’re just going to have to lump it.
- Better Security
Since CMSs like WordPress are so big and so popular, they have inevitably become a favoured target for hackers, spammers and other cybercriminals. These systems are well known by these types of malicious attackers (the coding is of course open source too), which means that their vulnerabilities are well known also. With a bespoke solution, however, it will be designed uniquely, and therefore will be harder for attackers to penetrate.
- Bespoke Plugins
Any additional features that you want to add to your site at any time you can have designed uniquely to streamline perfectly with the functionality of your existing site. By this point, you should have a very decent working relationship with your developer anyway, so you will be able to discuss with him or her exactly what you want and how it will work. These features will also of course be completely unique to your site, and not just the same as millions of others out there.
With an open source solution, you are at the mercy of the developers of the plugins, who may suddenly decide to stop offering support and updates, or just drop the plugin altogether.
A bespoke website with a bespoke CMS can ultimately scale up and down in line with your business requirements. Over time, your needs or your perspective might change, and you will be able to make the appropriate adjustments accordingly.
With an open source CMS, if it doesn’t do what you need it to do when you need to do it, you will unfortunately have to wait until the right plugin comes along, or the developers miraculously create the exact update that you’re looking for.
So, those are the pros and cons of bespoke and open source CMSs. The right solution for you will depend on what you want your site to do. So, it will always be worth exploring the open source options for free in the first instance before you just jump straight in and start forking out for something bespoke. If you can find an open source CMS that does everything that you want it to do, then you will have no need to look for a bespoke option. If, however, you are disappointed by the limitations that you are presented with, then a bespoke CMS solution will probably be right for you.