Posted by Amit Chail on September 24, 2015
Back in August of 2013 we wrote a blog post titled, Which Content Management System is Best for Your Business? That blog explored differences between the 3 biggest off-the-shelf CMS providers; Drupal, Joomla and Wordpress. In this article, we are going to weigh the pros and cons of off-the-shelf content management systems (CMS) vs. a custom content management system.
Before I dive into the differences, let’s do a quick lesson of what a CMS actually is. A CMS is a web application that has been designed to make life easy for someone who is non-technical. That user will be able to add, edit and completely manage their website without writing a single piece of code.
There are tons of content management systems that are available to web developers (paid and free). Many of these are starting points to build a website upon. One of the most popular and well known content management systems is Wordpress. Wordpress has been around since May of 2003. Another very popular CMS is Joomla which has been around since 2005. Both have a very strong following and user group.
Why is off-the-shelf so popular?
Designers or Front-end Coders that don't know PHP or MySQL, use off-the-shelf tools because they can install and configure them without editing any code. Even if it's not an ideal implementation, it's better than nothing, and certainly faster than trying to learn the underlying technologies. Developers or Backend Coders that don't have branding or marketing knowledge, a trained eye for design, or experience with tools like Photoshop, use off-the-shelf tools because they include basic templates or basic customizations that they can implement themselves. Again, these might not be ideal, but they know how to install them, and may not know what they are missing.
Do-it-Yourselfers that need something that they can implement with no design or coding and are willing to spend the time themselves learning and configuring it, use off-the-shelf CMS tools, usually for personal or small projects with little or no budget.
Overview and Comparisons
Joomla and Wordpress have been created in a specific way, so when a client needs something to work differently than the way it was initially intended, development time goes up. Also, customizing a pre-built CMS system can leave some security holes in your website.
Pre-built content management systems are usually well known for their security and patches. These systems have been in development for years, so most issues have been thought of. The problem is that these systems are open source, and can be downloaded by anyone. That's why Wordpress and Joomla websites are often hacked. With a custom CMS, no one will see the code except for the developer. Security holes are a lot more difficult to find.
There are tons of plugins available for Wordpress and Joomla websites. If you want new functionality on your website, there is a good chance that the plugin is available on the Wordpress / Joomla plugin page and most of the time it will be free. The disadvantage will bring us back to customizability. If you want the plugin to work differently than the “out of the box” option, the plugin will need to be customized which brings cost up.
When you need a feature to be added to a custom CMS, usually the person who created the CMS will be building the extension or plugin. What that means is that the plugin will work the way it was intended and the exact same way the client / customer expects it to work.
|Pre-built CMS||Custom CMS|
|Ease of Use||
|Deliverability and turn around time||
So, what's the verdict?
Both off-the-shelf and custom content management systems have their positives and negatives, but in the long term, we personally believe the custom option is the best option. When you consider the aspects of longevity, updates, adding features and ease of use, custom makes the most sense.
Here at BTI we build both custom content management systems and develop off-the-shelf systems. Give us a shout for more insight and to discuss the best option for you.
Do you agree or disagree with some of the comments in my post? Use the comment field below.