If you are in the process of getting a content management system for your website you will probably hear a lot said about open source systems that you can use. How do you know whether to use one or whether to go with a custom made solution? We have written this article to give you our opinions on the options based on our own and our client experiences.

Firstly let’s consider open source content management systems. You will wind there are a large number on the market and deciding on the best one is difficult. You will often find that an open source CMS is free, however you need to know how to put it together and unless you have experience of this you will need to employ a developer. The cost of this can vary dramatically depending on the knowledge of the developer and the complexity of your website.

One of the most important things to consider with an open source CMS is that it already has predefined functions, so if your site is very simple this may be the way you want to go. On the other hand as an open source system is premade it is basically a drag a drop system which could result in you having more functions in your back office than you need. The time you need to learn the system and the functions that apply to you may be great and could cause confusion if more than one person is using the system.

As an extension to this, let us tell you about a problem we have seen people have in the past. Consider a situation where you have a complex website with lots of advanced functionality. If you are using an open source system you may encounter the problem that your system does not have prebuilt functions that meet your requirements. This can then cause you great headaches as we have found in the past that developers that only use open source systems do not have the prerequisite programming knowledge to be able to add these functions to the system. Now you are left in a situation where you will need to go out and find a specialised programmer to add these functions to your open source system and the cost for this can often be astronomical. So you are stuck, change the functions on your site or pay a small fortune to have them added.

I bet you are now thinking, well what is the difference with custom built systems? Well you can get the answer to that by considering the different approaches. With an open source system you take a back end with predefined functions and create a front end to your website to fit in with it. With a custom built system you can build your front end, decide on the functions that you want and then create a back end that fits in with the front end. This gives you a much greater flexibility with your site and means you will be able to get exactly what you want.

This is great, but what about small, less complex sites? Well if you have a custom built system you will often find that the CMS does not need to be complex and so the costs will not be that much higher and you will end up with a CMS that is very simple, does exactly what you need it to do and is not cluttered with lots of extra functions that you don’t need.

We would always suggest doing your own research and deciding what you need but we would recommend custom built content management systems due to their flexibility and possibility for growth at a later date.

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