Custom CMS: Pros and Cons. Is It a Good Idea to Invest in Custom Content Management Systems?
If you run a website, you probably use a CMS to manage it. Thanks to this solution, you’re able to introduce a lot of modifications without any IT knowledge. The market offers numerous solutions that vary in terms of prices and functionalities. You can also go for a custom CMS. But is it a beneficial choice?
Table of Contents:
- CMS – What Is It And How Does It Work?
- Types of CMSes
- Pros of a Custom CMS
- Cons of a Custom CMS
- Custom CMS – Is It A Good Choice?
CMS – what is it and how does it work?
CMS stands for a content management system which is pretty self-explanatory. With its use, you can manage your website relatively easily. For this purpose, you won’t usually need even the basic knowledge of HTML language as an operation of the system resembles popular text editors. However, CMSes aren’t solely about publishing content. They offer numerous functionalities such as:
- User management,
- Menu management,
- Comment moderation,
- Photo upload,
- Template change,
- HTML code modification,
- Selection of appropriate URL formats,
- Implementation of new solutions.
The functionalities you’ve at your disposal are determined mainly by the type of system you decide to choose.
If you use hosting, log in to the administration panel. There, you’ll probably find an app installer that can help you install a CMS just with a few clicks. The possibilities are endless! The screenshot below presents only some of the solutions but all of them have one thing in common – they’re available for free.
CMS is supposed to make website management easier. Thanks to it, you can run a company website and frequently implement simple modifications such as content updates, menu changes, or meta tag implementation without any specialist support. Nevertheless, not every CMS is so user-friendly in real life. Some of them are approachable while others are more demanding and introducing any changes requires some time and understanding.
That’s why, it’s not the best idea to choose some random CMS, especially if you’re just starting your adventure and you don’t have any previous experience with such solutions. WordPress, the most recognizable CMS in the world, owes its success to the simplicity of use. According to W3Techs data from October 2020, it was used in the case of almost 64% of all sites that are based on a CMS and almost 40% of all existing pages. This perfectly illustrates the huge potential of this solution.
Although the list of its advantages is pretty long, the popularity of WordPress results mainly from the fact that it can be used for free, even for profit-making purposes. The community advocating this content management system is represented by millions of Internet users and thousands of available extensions that help to refine the functionalities of the tool. In November 2020 the WordPress database offered over 58 thousand plugins!
Types of CMSes
If you’re searching for a CMS that will meet your expectations, you should take into consideration various types of solutions to ultimately select the one that’s the most appropriate for your project. Analyze different issues as using a free application isn’t necessarily a solution that will suit everyone. Below you can find different types of content management systems:
This stands for software as a service and is offered by numerous hosting companies. It’s an ideal solution if you’re looking for the easiest way to set up a website. In this case, you don’t care about finding the right hosting, updating, or installing a CMS. As part of the service, you get a ready-made page. You just need to log in to the administration panel and customize the site. This CMS type is particularly popular among online store owners.
This solution is extremely convenient for both individual clients and businesses. You can pay a monthly, quarterly, or annual fee. In most cases, it’s possible to select from several packages that may differ in the maximum number of products, administrators, languages, currencies, or templates to choose from. The popularity of this solution results from the fact that it makes it relatively easy to launch an online business. On the other end of the spectrum, limited flexibility is one of its disadvantages. Transferring any data may be problematic – it all depends on whether the company offering the service gives such a possibility.
2. Open Source
Meaning solutions available for free. The abovementioned WordPress is the most popular CMS from this group. Others include Drupal and Joomla!. When it comes to free store software, we can mention WooCommerce (WordPress plug-in), Magento, PrestaShop, OpenCart, osCommerce, and many, many more. In this case, you don’t have to pay for using these solutions, but you may need help with implementing modifications and you need to remember to install updates.
If you decide on a free, popular CMS, you can choose from a wide range of ready-made templates or plugins. You’ll also easily find descriptions of how to obtain the desired effect. Hiring a professional web developer to introduce the necessary changes should be a piece of cake. The advantage of this solution is that you don’t incur any costs related to the software, and even if you do, they’re really insignificant. Unlimited flexibility and trouble-free data transfer are also great benefits of Open Source systems.
So which of the solutions enjoys greater popularity – SaaS or Open Source? Data from builtwith.com shows that most Polish store owners decide to choose free software. Presta was ranked first among SaaS stores. “Others” constituted 21%.
3. Custom CMS
Such a system is developed according to the specifications you provide. So, it’s a tailor-made CMS meeting all your expectations. Of course, it’s possible to implement other functionalities in the future, if necessary. So is it the finest choice? Let’s take a closer look at this solution.
Pros of a custom CMS
Perhaps you’ve encountered solutions that looked completely different than you would have imagined when you were using free CMSes. Maybe the implementation of modifications cost an arm and a leg? The situation looks quite different in the case of a custom CMS. The list of advantages includes:
- No restrictions and flexibility – a web developer will make all of your wishes come true if they’re doable. The solutions employed on the website will certainly meet your expectations. Almost every functionality can be implemented within a certain time frame. Money and time are the only limits.
- Increased security – the biggest disadvantage of popular CMSes is that they’re an attractive target for hackers who know thousands of ways to steal valuable user data or intercept other important information. All they need is a discrepancy in the plug-in code, template, or in the CMS itself. When information about the error appears on the web, millions of other websites in the world may already be affected by the virus. The risk is much lower when it comes to a custom CMS. Take a look at the chart below. According to Sucuri, even 90 percent of the hacking in 2018 affected WordPress. Other popular free CMS was also ranked on subsequent positions.
- Documentation and support – as part of the project, you can count on comprehensive documentation and support from the company that develops the CMS. The contractor should give you tips concerning the system and provide training on how to use it.
Cons of a custom CMS
Unfortunately, there’s also the other side of the coin. Custom CMSes have disadvantages which include:
- Project execution time – if you choose a free CMS or SaaS model, the page can be at your disposal even on the same day. The process of creating a custom CMS will take much longer. Web developers will need to organize certain solutions from scratch which undoubtedly affects the execution time. In the case of more advanced projects, it may take even a few months to achieve the expected results.
- Higher costs – fees for free CMSes or SaaS models are really insignificant. On the other hand, creating an advanced project from scratch may require a very large amount of money. So how much exactly will you need to pay? It’s hard to say. The agency or freelancers you choose also have an impact on the final price.
- Risk of implementation problems – if you want a custom CMS, you should find an experienced and reputable agency or web developer. If you make the wrong choice, you may need to constantly struggle with subsequent errors found in the CMS. Running the site will be difficult, even though you have invested a lot of money in the system.
- Cooperation with one company – you’ll almost certainly continue cooperating with the web developer who created your site every time you need to implement subsequent modifications. If the cooperation doesn’t meet your expectations, you may hire another company, however, it may mean that your CMS will be black magic for the new developer. Consequently, implementation of any changes will be more time and money-consuming than management of popular, free systems.
- Paid modifications – any ideas on how to modify your custom CMS? Not a problem, you just commission the task and the web developer usually does it without any problems. In the case of free systems, it’s possible to implement most of the functionalities with the use of free plug-ins, and even if you need to pay for something, the costs are considerably lower.
- No free updates – you’re rather unlikely to get free updates. If you choose a custom CMS, you’ll need to pay for most modifications, except for the ones related to the found errors. However, everything is regulated by the contract.
- Waiting for implementation – when you commission a task, you have to reckon with the fact that it may take some time to perform it. In the case of popular CMSes, there are hundreds of web developers willing to introduce the changes you need at hand.
- No SEO – when developing websites, IT companies frequently forget about SEO. Instead, they focus on the simplicity and aesthetics of the page. This makes working with a custom CMS even more challenging because an SEO agency usually has to implement significant and expensive modifications (e.g. that require modifying the code or creating additional modules).
Custom CMS – is it a good choice?
When reading our today’s entry, you may come to the conclusion that custom CMSes have more disadvantages. But does it necessarily mean that you should forget about this solution? Only a small percentage of all websites benefit from custom systems, however, the decision you make depends on the situation and needs you have. First of all, analyze whether the available budget is sufficient to execute such a project. To make it possible for a company to price your website development out, you need to precisely define your objectives. When is it a good idea to choose a custom CMS? If:
- You want to have unique software.
- You’re already using one CMS but you want to implement numerous changes.
- You invest in a long-term project you want to develop.
- You’re dealing with a great project and functionalities offered by free CMSes aren’t enough.
- You want to protect your website against cyber attacks.
However, if you want to create a simple company website, information platform, or a small store, investing in a custom CMS may not pay off. Using free or even paid solutions should be enough to achieve satisfactory results and in the end, it’ll also be less expensive.
Nice article. I used custom CMS for one of my websites, then when creating a new one I decided to go with one of the already existing systems – I encountered a lot of troubles when doing SEO for custom CMS before and didn’t want to go through it again!