Open Source Content Management Systems vs. Proprietary Content Management Systems: An Unbiased Outlook - Part Two

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    In the previous article, I laid out for you what open source CMS and proprietary CMS software is. In this article, we'll get further in depth into open source CMS detailing the benefits and drawbacks of the system. 

    What are the Benefits of Open Source CMS?

    There are a number of popular open source platforms, including WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Mambo, Wix and many more. Ask a person with design or development knowledge which one is their favorite and you will get a different answer each time why theirs is the easiest and most cost effective to use. However, we can agree that WordPress is easily the most popular. If you do not have much development experience and you are choosing an open-source solution, WordPress is a hard platform to pass up. But what does open source give you? Why is it right for your business?

    • Quick & Cheap - It is a quick, “cheap” up-front cost that has a basic template to get you going. It’s an easy go-to for the small business that just need a page or two to get started
    • Customizable - You have someone (or yourself) that an add custom functionality to a website easily and expertly from a custom theme you created yourself or a more advanced theme purchased online. Although, technically, if you purchase a theme, you’re not exactly in the realm of open source software anymore because now you’re locked into a proprietary host
    • Content Updates - Your online presence is crucial to your business and yourself or a dedicated resource will constantly be adding, tweaking and updating the content on your website
    • Blogging - Your blog is your business
    • Custom Plugins - You are comfortable deciding what plugins and add-ons to include in your site to enhance hosting, infrastructure, search engine optimization and speed

    What are the issues with open source Content Management Systems?

    • You get what you pay for – if you spent $75 on a theme, you’re probably going to get a pretty looking product, but you have to implement, maintain and support it yourself. You will need to design skills and computer knowledge if you do not want to pay for an excellent design, and any customization can result in a fee to pay someone to create it
    • Support is a major issue. While open source is open to such a large community with thousands working on it at any given time, no one is working directly on your site but you. Support updates, bug fixes and plugin updates are not consistently scheduled, and one update to a plugin can break an entire site if the codebase isn’t sound throughout
    • Bugs & other errors – The code is only as good as the developer, and a majority of web developers who create for these different open sourced systems are not software developers. Experts may be helping to customize designs but are not working through bug fixes and other errors. They rely on the community to find and report them or work through them themselves
    • Your design isn’t necessarily yours. You may have access to the source code for your website, but it may not be yours to use on other printed material or branding needs. Designs from WordPress themes are customizable to a certain extent, but nothing is stopping another person from having a similar looking site. Only if you get a custom design can you make sure you own it.
    • Security Risks – The more familiar people are with a software, the higher the chance of security flaws.
    • Big data – For those who require specialized data handling, large databases or intranets, a custom designed CMS is most likely a better option to handle that amount of data

    Read PART THREE where I finish my series with the pros and cons of a proprietary CMS! 

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    About the Author

    Emily Oskay Gerrick

    Emily joined the Marketpath team in December of 2014 as a User Experience (UX) Designer. She serves as the product designer for Marketpath CMS, and the lead designer for the Pro Services division. Emily works directly with clients to establish their online marketing goals and outlines any functional requirements the custom website may need before designing client websites.

    Emily obtained her Masters of Science in Information Architecture & Knowledge Management with a concentration in User Experience Design from Kent State University in 2018. She previously attended Purdue University and graduated from Purdue University in May of 2013 with a B.A. in Visual Communication Design and Computer Science. In her free time, Emily enjoys cooking, drawing and designing, traveling the world, and spending time with her family and friends.

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