The Great Divide: Open vs. Closed Source CMS
A new website. A first website. Renovations to your current website. Whatever the case may be, you will inevitably face the great divide. Do you choose an open or closed source content management system (CMS)? It seems like a tough debate. You’ve likely seen advertisements for open CMS solutions, like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. And the digital agency responsible for your web design and development has also probably told you about closed source CMS solutions like Kentico, Ektron or Sitefinity. Like the smarty-pants marketer you are, you’ve decided to get educated on the topic to make a decision that will best represent your business, right? Bravo! We hope you brought your appetite – let’s dig in!
Open Source – What They Do Tell You
Open source CMS solutions are free to use. Hooray! They typically have a lot of developers working behind the curtain to improve software and fix bugs – so as an open source CMS customer, you and the web design and development team within your digital agency get to benefit from a wide range of perspectives and expertise. You’re also likely find an abundance of information online about your CMS solution. Tutorials, how-to posts, public forums…plenty of chatty chat out there if you and your digital agency require some assistance.
Your web developer will appreciate that an open source CMS provides substantial flexibility, ease of install and plenty of plug-ins to add valuable functionality to your site, as well. The more popular open source CMS solutions also feature well-structured source coding, which means that the web developer and the web designer will have an easier time making nice to build your site. Additionally, any web developer will be able to step in and understand your open source CMS as long as they speak the correct language. In other words, if you need to switch web developers, open source traverses well.
Open Source – What They Don’t…
Remember when that someone (probably a grandparent or crotchety neighbor) told you that nothing in life is free? Yeah… we hate to side with the crotchety, but in this case, it’s true.
Open source CMS is extremely popular right now. Guess why? Because it’s free! What advertisers fail to tell you is that because it’s popular, it’s also a very common code for hackers to learn, thus leaving your site susceptible to major security risks.
Time equals money and your web design and development team is going to charge for however long it takes them to eradicate the security breach. In other words, to fix a blunder like this – it’s going to cost you.
In fact, from the start, your digital agency will have to work twice as hard to anticipate a security threat with open source CMS solutions, especially depending on who within your business requires access to what parts of the site (like the admin panels). Suddenly, free isn’t looking so free, is it?
Lets talk about support for a minute. Lets say you run into an issue (non-security related) like:
And you need help to resolve the issue. You or your web developer might turn to online sources like ‘how-to’ posts or public forums. Your Open source CMS might even have a support line where you can ask questions. But they won’t be able to take you or your web design and development team into programming support. Gah! And while all this searching has been taking place, guess what else has been happening? The clock has been ticking, which means you’ll be paying for the time later.
We know – it stings a bit. But there’s more…
When you choose an open source CMS, you’ll also be bothered with constant updates and upgrades as all those people behind the curtain work to squash bugs in the software or patch holes in security. These updates will require the attention of your web design and development team, who will need to check your site each time an update is completed to ensure that it’s running properly, no security risks are present and your plug-ins are getting along with each other and your site’s theme. Tick tock…
Finally, if a security threat, upgrade malfunction or other unpredictable issue should befall your site; it could render the site inaccessible to online visitors until your web design and development team can doctor it up. Gasp! The ultimate no-no!
Getting full? Make room! There’s still another side to our source code story.
Closed Source – What They Do Tell You
If security and support are items 1 and 2 on your list of criteria – ding! ding! You’re getting closer! Closed source CMS solutions have greater security and support because they are privately developed and owned as opposed to open source, which is a collaborative effort amongst countless developers. Unlike open source, closed source CMS solutions will have a built in support team. Chances are, they’ve seen your issue before, which means that your web developer will be more likely to wiz through dilemmas without burning the arms off that money clock.
From your web developer and web designer’s perspective, closed source CMS solutions provide access to powerful template systems and can incorporate current technologies with ease. Your development team won’t run into incompatibility issues like they might with open source CMS, either. Your web developer will also relish the architecture options that will simplify plug-in and extension construction.
Lastly, closed source CMS solutions give you more. Who doesn’t want more? Closed source services might include email marketing tools or intuitive customer relationship management (CRM) functionality to facilitate your sales process. More bang for your buck? Yes please…
Closed Source – What They Also Tell You
When you choose a closed source CMS solution, you’re essentially choosing to partner with a provider that only benefits if you do, and that’s good news! That means they won’t be trying to sneak anything past you and, furthermore, they will be highly invested in your experience.
Upon talking with a closed source CMS solution provider, you’ll learn that this side of the divide is not for free. You will, in fact, get what you pay for - a ton of function, flex, security and support. But that means investing in the software, which can be expensive depending on whom you choose to work with. The other drawback to choosing a closed source CMS solution is that support isn’t necessarily included in your agreement, so be sure to ask how much support you can expect to receive and factor the answer into your budget.
In the end – your decision will be based on one towering factor – money. Mullah…dinheiro…Benjamins...Whatever you call it – plan your budget accordingly. We recommend you select a digital agency that provides custom web design and development and is certified with a closed source CMS solution like Kentico to ensure that regardless of the path you choose; your site’s requirements will be met. Talk to your web design and development team about specific goals, budgets and concerns. They will be able to help pair you with the right solution for your site.