Choosing a custom CMS vs. open source CMS is one of the most important decisions a business can make regarding its website. Content management systems are not one-size-fits-all technologies, and there is no "right" answer when selecting a custom or open source platform. To determine the best option for your business, first you must understand what each CMS alternative has to offer, and what your team needs from a CMS solution.

Overview of Custom CMS vs. Open Source CMS

There are a number of differences between custom and open source content management systems.

In an open source CMS, such as Wordpress, Drupal or Joomla!, the platform's underlying code is publicly available and editable. Open source solutions can be redistributed, copied and modified for a number of applications. These systems are frequently updated by the broader online community, which can freely patch glitches in the software and add new features.

A custom CMS is a proprietary solution that's created exclusively for one company or use case. With a custom CMS, your business (or the service firm that built it) has control over the platform's functionality, interface and updates. With custom solutions, the system's workflow, design and usability can be tailored to any business or department's specific needs.

Custom CMS vs. Open Source CMS: How to Choose

There are a number of factors that impact the decision to go with a custom or open source CMS. Here are a few points to consider when navigating that choice for your firm:

  • In-house IT resources: Open source CMS platforms provide infinite possibilities for adding new layers of functionality, but making these changes requires a high level of development expertise that some businesses don't have in-house. When choosing a CMS, it's important to honestly evaluate whether or not your company has the resources to make the most of an open source platform.
  • User profiles: The roles and needs of your company’s primary CMS users should play a large role in the selection of your CMS platform. Certain types of CMS are too technical for marketers to manage on their own, forcing them to rely on IT staff to help with coding, uploading and editing content. If your marketing team can't manage the CMS without external support, your time to market for new content campaigns might slow down dramatically.
  • Budget: As with most major technology purchases, cost can be a determining factor in choosing a CMS. Open source CMS alternatives are often available at no or low cost, but companies that rely on them may end up investing more in IT staffing or third party development support to modify and expand the system later on. The upfront cost of a custom CMS varies depending on whether it's built in-house or by a service firm, but the increased control over the platform may reduce maintenance expenses over time.

Next Steps for Selecting a Custom CMS vs. Open Source CMS

Making the right choice between custom CMS vs. open source CMS begins with doing your homework. Assessing your current and future business goals, along with your internal resources, will ultimately inform this major decision.

At Walker Sands Digital, we understand that every company is different when it comes to their website needs. We've invested in our own easy to use, custom CMS that we offer clients at no additional cost. As a vendor agnostic agency, we're also ready and willing to work with any existing open source CMS that you've already implemented. Reach out to us today at 312-267-0066 to learn more about our content management services, and how to choose the best platform for your firm.