Trying to decide which of the many content management systems available is right for your business website? It can be a challenge to navigate through the options and at some point you're likely to throw up your hands in frustration.
So let's narrow it down a bit. A custom CMS can deliver exactly what you need as it's set up to work for your website goals. But you might still be drawn to what you believe are the benefits of an open-source CMS like WordPress, Drupal or Joomla. Should you decide on a custom CMS or try to customize an open-source option?
Open-source CMS solutions have their place, but they may not fit with your established business. Here are the truths behind the top myths about open-source CMS options.
1. Search engines love WordPress.
Search engines don't automatically prefer a popular CMS -- it's all in how clean the back-end code is and how good your content is. WordPress can be set up to work well with Google, but a straight install won't do the trick. First, many WordPress themes are extremely bloated in order to give you all the "easy" customization options for colors, fonts and features. Unless you have an expert strip away all the unneeded code, you're going to have a large footprint, bloated pages and higher download times.
Your ability to do on-page search engine optimization, or customization of elements like sub-headlines, "alt" text and descriptions, requires a plug-in—it's not something that WordPress allows you to do automatically. One popular SEO plug-in, Yoast, works well but has to be set up correctly for your needs. If you install and use it consistently, it can help you with your on-page SEO, but WordPress itself does not have this functionality included.
2. "Open Source" means it's cheap or free.
Your basic open-source CMS is free to install. The theme and plug-ins or add-ons that give your site the functionality required are often created by third-party developers who do charge for their products. By the time you get your open-source website set up to do everything you need it to do, you may have spent hundreds or thousands of dollars on plug-ins and customization of the open-source software to meet your needs.
3. The variety of plug-ins means you can easily add functionality.
Even plug-ins that seem to do exactly what you need must be optimized to work with your settings, your server, and your theme. Even though there are thousands of plug-ins available, they may not do exactly what you need—or they may not even be coded correctly, adding a security risk you don't need to your site.
Sometimes a developer will update a plug-in that renders it incompatible with others you have installed. Even more commonly, a developer will NOT update the plug-in, so when you install a new version of your CMS, your site stops working correctly. With a custom CMS, you don't run into these conflicts.
4. The community element makes it better.
It does seem like using a popular open-source CMS will make it easier if you ever need to switch web developers, or for the people in your office to learn to use. Plus, a popular open-source product is more likely to continue to be updated by advocates. The truth is, though, that a custom CMS will continue to be supported by your developer and will be set up to do exactly what you need it to do, making it easier to train employees on its use.
5. They're in use at Fortune 500 companies.
Of course, some larger companies are going to have open-source CMS solutions running their websites. But what works well for a Fortune 500 firm might not be what's best for you. Chances are your marketing, sales, and operations are not identical to huge companies, and your website shouldn't be either. Using the wrong solution that's designed for a much bigger company can add a layer of complexity in updating and maintaining a site that you don’t need.
Open-source software has its place, but it may not be right for your business. With a custom CMS, you'll know the total cost upfront, and won't be blindsided by the need for expensive plug-ins. Plus, your training and maintenance costs will be lower because your site won't be bloated with functionality you don't need. Talk to one of our experts today to find out more about why a custom CMS can benefit your company.