“Why I should invest in a custom CMS solution when I can use Wordpress at a fraction of the cost?”
For those who may not be familiar with WordPress, it’s a great open source blogging platform. In recent years it’s become popular to use it as an inexpensive way to build websites.
A custom CMS is likely to be a tool developed for the purpose of creating websites. Generally speaking, if you go the route of CMS solutions that are customized it is going to cost a good bit more in both time and money, assuming that it’s professionally built.
In this post, I’ll do my best to be objective and share what I feel are the pros and cons of each.
Keep in mind — my intent is not to beat up on Wordress.
We love to use WordPress for what it was built for – blogging software. This discussion is comparing WordPress as a CMS to a more standard CMS solution.
Benefits of Using WordPress as a CMS
- WordPress as a CMS is a very low cost option.
- WordPress gives you access to thousands of WordPress themes that can be used right out of the box.
- Because WordPress is ‘open source’, there is a broad developer base that range from novice to pro, as well as offer support at various price-points.
- WordPress blogs and websites typically have a very fast implementation time.
- There are thousands of WordPress plugins and extensions that add functionality to your website or blog.
Pitfalls of Using WordPress as a CMS
- With any WordPress website or blog, data security can be a real challenge.
- Because WordPress was built as a blogging CMS, the features and functionality can present challenges when using WordPress as a CMS for websites.
- Even with a vast array of WordPress developers, skill sets can vary.
Benefits of Using a Custom CMS
- With a custom CMS, you have the ability to have your website built to the exact specifications that support your business.
- Most custom CMS solutions are built to be highly flexible.
- Because a custom CMS is usually built from the ground up by a group of skilled developers, security is typically better.
- With most CMS solutions, the integration of third party apps becomes and easier process.
- Custom CMS solutions are built to accomodate advanced website functionality.
Pitfalls of Using a Custom CMS
- You will typically pay more for a website built on a Custom CMS.
- The code used in a custom CMS is typically proprietary, meaning that the agency or development team own it.
- Websites built on custom CMS typically require a longer development process.
- With a custom CMS, brands will have some level of dependency on their agency partner.
What to Watch Out For When Using WordPress as a CMS
For various reasons we inherit quite a few projects midstream that are being built on WordPress. What matters to you, if you are using or considering it as a CMS, are the following things to look out for.
- Security: WordPress is open source, so every hacker in the world has free access to its core code. That makes it much more susceptible to hacking and injection type attacks. In addition because of the simplicity of implementing WordPress, it is easy to “be a web developer” with very little experience. Ask your developer what they are doing to harden your install. With most custom CMS solutions the risks are lower due to the fact that the core code is not open to the public. In addition, they tend to be built by professional level developers.
- Plugins & Extensions: All the plugins and extensions can seem like a toy store for some developers. Don’t over use them and install every plugin you can think of. Identify the ones that really work toward your goals. As with any software, the more you “glue onto” it, the more temperamental it can become. Just get what you need to accomplish your business goals.
- Customization: This is where it can get very tricky very fast. Many companies use WordPress thinking they are avoiding “proprietary code” of a custom CMS. The fact is, once you have a developer alter WordPress, you now have “proprietary code”. Just have an awareness of that and the fact that customizing it will most likely impact the ability of your site to accept standard WordPress updates.
All this being said, if you are looking for a basic CMS solution on a limited budget, and don’t need a lot of integration or customization, WordPress may be a great CMS solution for your needs.
On the other hand, if you need a CMS solution with a bit more horse power and one that aligns more closely with specific business processes, a custom CMS may be a better fit.
Final Words From My Experience
In your decision, consider what you need now, and your business goals for the next 2 to 3 years.
Make sure you choose a platform that can truly grow with your business.
What question do you have?