If you listen to most agencies, you would think WordPress is your only CMS option when developing a new website. Some, more avant-garde experts suggest Drupal, but your perceived options tend to end there.
In reality, that's far from the case. A number of major, successful websites use CMS solutions developed specifically for their needs, taking advantage of the customizability and increased end user support this alternative provides. The below 5 companies use a custom CMS and so should you.
1) New York Times
The United States Paper of Record owns one of Alexa's top 100 websites in the world, making it the most popular newspaper website worldwide. In an effort to integrate its print and digital efforts, the New York Times developed a custom CMS called 'Scoop.' According to the paper,
The beauty of a homegrown CMS is that we can shape its features and technology over time. Since its inception, the Scoop platform has been extended to include many new features such as sophisticated authoring and editing tools and workflows, budgeting, photo manipulation, video management and more robust content APIs. Its user base has swelled from a few dozen web producers to more than 1,000 users, including reporters, copy editors, photo editors and video producers.
The New York Times is not the only major digital publisher to build its own CMS rather than rely on template-based alternatives. Buzzfeed also relies on a custom CMS in order to streamline its publishing capabilities. When asked why the company would not go with WordPress, the company's Director of Editorial Products had an enlightening answer:
If you’re using a generic, off-the-shelf CMS, those assumptions might not fit your organization’s particular needs, creating frustrating obstacles that users need to work around. With a custom-built CMS, we can make the structure and assumptions work to our advantage, letting people do their work better or faster or more easily.
3) Say Media
This advertising conglomerate first created a CMS for its own publications, but began selling it to its partners when its success became evident. Called Tempest, the platform enables advertisers to integrate organic content and paid advertisements through effective story templates. According to the Matt Sanchez, CEO of Say Media,
Controlling the ad experience side and editorial experience side at the same time lets you do something that’s more effective for both the reader and the advertiser.
4) Vox Media
Chorus, the CMS created by Vox Media for its many media properties, is the stuff of legends among digital publishers. It is said to have played a major part in attracting journalism superstar (now editor in chief) Ezra Klein to the company, and employees joke that it can solve any problems possible. What makes Chorus so widely popular?
Vox Media... has built its Chorus platform to respond to the exact needs of its writers. These features include a text editor that shows writers relevant licensed photos, software that automatically adds story metadata, and baked-in story assignment features.
Operating under the mysterious name of Kinja, Gawker's CMS has existed longer than most - since 2003, to be exact. Kinja powers the company's most popular blogging domains, including io9, Deadspin, Lifehacker, and Gizmodo. Co-founder Nick Denton has gone so far as to call the company's content management system "the future of independent media."
All of the companies listed exemplify in a variety of ways why a custom CMS may be the best solution for your company. Increased customizability has enabled them to create content in ways that template-based alternatives like WordPress or Drupal simply can't. Choosing a custom CMS allows for limitless possibilities.