Sometimes, one size doesn't fit all.
Most people are familiar with popular content management systems such as WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and the like. While these solutions may work for some applications, it is important to be aware that one size doesn't always fit all scenarios!
We've put together a common list of frequently asked questions to talk about our custom cms development services:
When should you consider a custom content management system?
Good question. The best answer is that it all depends on your project's specifications. Here are a few scenarios where a custom CMS would make sense:
You have security concerns or corporate security requirements that would make off-the-shelf platforms unacceptable. An example of this could be stringent security requirements that limit the amount of software licenses allowed, or that require tightening so severe that it would inhibit the ability of the platform to operate correctly. Also, remember that off-the-shelf platforms are more susceptible to random attacks by bots and other automated attackers.
You require advanced features. If you plan on having a website requiring advanced customization, evaluate if you are pushing the limits of off-the-shelf CMS platforms. An example would be software that is core to your business that must be custom built on top of the CMS platform. Future risks could be the inability to run a proper software update, or even worse, a software update breaking your custom code. It happens all the time!
You want a simpler interface that you can design. The best part of a custom CMS is that the interface and workflows can be completely up to you! If you run a large team of editors or content creators, or have a large enterprise that requires updating by many administrators, you can choose an existing "dashboard" and build your custom CMS around that. Or, you can even design your own. This is something that is very difficult with many open-source platforms.
You require ownership. Remember, when you build a site with an open-source CMS, you may not "own" the software. Start-ups who are interested in future acquisitions of technology or similar would be disserved by building on top of an open-source framework, which would bring about licensing issues in the future.
Is a custom CMS risky?
Not if you choose a smart underlying technology, and an experienced team to develop it! Custom software can be built using the same tools that power the popular systems such as WordPress, Drupal and the like. The only difference is that the software will be 100% customized for your usage, not pieced together to get close to what you need.
When finding a team to develop it, look for examples of installations of the CMS that have been in place over long periods of time. In making an investment in a CMS, you should aim for at least a 5 year lifespan of the core software.
What about ongoing maintenance?
Anyone familiar with off-the-shelf systems know that they are constantly updated. And sometimes, when you update, your plug-ins, extensions or modules may stop working. This is the constant struggle that you face during an update cycle.
With custom software, you will need to update the core software (PHP, MySQL, Apache, etc.) just as you would with the popular open-source systems. However, the vulnerabilities commonly used against those platforms by automated bots become less of an issue. And, because you have no plug-ins used, you'll never have a compatibility issue when you do have to make a software update.
What if you (NPG, or any other developer) get hit by a bus?
Remember, web developers that build you a custom platform aren't using any unknown technology! They will use the same languages in use by millions of other sites. They just won't use bloated, inefficient software as the basis for their work. PHP, MySQL or MongoDB, Apache and Linux can all be used just like any other platform.
And best of all, the client in this case actually owns the software. Meaning, it is yours to do with as you choose.
Other developers have told me building a CMS these days is crazy...?
Always beware - not everyone really is a "developer". Many web design firms are proficient in a single platform, and will sell it to every customer as a solution to all of your problems. That is why you may get a Drupal recommendation from an agency with a portfolio full of Drupal work, and a WordPress proposal from a WordPress shop. Sadly, many will just find an off-the-shelf theme, repurpose it as a "custom design" and then flood it with plug-ins that will reduce the stability of the platform.
It is good to ask a couple of questions:
- If you didn't use X platform, what would be your second choice?
- How many plug-ins, modules or extensions will be used?
- Is the design custom, or based on a theme?
Just remember: If more agencies (and developers) were proficient with custom CMS development, you'd get more people offering it.
If you think you may be interested in a custom CMS solution, or simply aren't sure, reach out to us for a free consultation. We work with many off-the-shelf systems and build complex custom content management systems as well, and can make a determination with you about what platform will make sense for your project.
"A content management system adds, edits and deletes stuff. Why overcomplicate it?" -Our CEO