For some businesses, choosing between a custom-built website or an open source solution is a dilemma. Others see it as an easy decision since open source is free, offers lots of functionality, and is often backed by a large following of talented developers who maintain and improve the code.
Open source solutions come in the form of content management systems (CMS) that allow the non-technical person to build a website and publish content. They offer a vast array of add-ons that add extra functionality to your website, and an enormous selection of website templates and themes.
All of this sounds good, and it is, for some users. Open source may be the right choice for small businesses whose requirements are readily met by the software. However, if your needs require extensive rework of the open source CMS or if you aren't interested in a website that uses the same building blocks as many other websites found on the Internet, then you are better off with a website that's custom-made.
A custom-built website doesn't necessarily mean you won't enjoy the benefits of a content management system because they can be custom-built as well. However, there is more to this choice besides whether an open source solution happens to perfectly meet your requirements. Here are two other considerations:
The Cost Of Implementation And Maintenance
Although many open source content management systems are built with the non-coder in mind, a learning curve is nevertheless required to become proficient with them. Implementation and maintenance is often a bumpy road requiring a fair amount of troubleshooting. Plenty of help is available online provided you are willing to ask questions in forums and do the research. All of this takes time. Whether it's yours or an employee's, this time equates to money. Alternatively, you can hire the services of someone who specializes in the open source CMS of your website.
The open source community does an excellent job of ironing out bugs and improving the code. However, they time their releases of these improvements according to their schedule, not yours. The nature of these improvements are based on the aggregate needs of everyone using the CMS. Sometimes the improvements may have little relevance to your needs and may even make things more difficult. Improvements specific to your needs will require the services of a specialist.
Custom-built websites also cost money to build and maintain. Depending on your circumstances, this may cost more or perhaps less than using an open source CMS. The circumstances for a custom-built website costing less are many. For example, you could be paying for the services of a specialist to build and manage your open source based website. Many of these professionals don't come cheap.
The Problem Of Security
According to opensource.org:
Open source software is software that can be freely used, changed, and shared (in modified or unmodified form) by anyone.
The software that runs your website is freely available to anyone, including hackers. The best open source content management systems are often very popular precisely because they're the best. This popularity incentivizes hackers to study them because they provide more targets of opportunity. Specific open source content management systems also form the basis of many hacking communities that freely share techniques and hacking software. All of this collective knowledge exists for one purpose: to hack into websites just like yours.
Some people mistakenly believe there is safety in numbers, that it's unlikely that hackers will single out their websites. This isn't necessarily true because hackers often employ software that tirelessly searches for the online "foot prints" of popular content management systems. They will find your website as surely as spammers will find your email inbox.
There are numerous ways that hackers can break into a website. They can exploit weaknesses in the CMS, the theme, or the weaknesses of one of your add-ons. A popular technique among hackers is the use of software that makes repeated attempts at guessing your login passwords. This method is called the brute force attack but it is a bit of a misnomer, because these algorithms often incorporate the use of lists and intelligent codified strategies.
Custom business website development doesn't make use of software that is freely available to the public. Potential hackers aren't armed with the "blueprints" of your website. Because of this, they aren't out there looking for your website's foot prints because they have no idea what to look for. In your case, there really is safety in numbers. Your website is just one out of millions, and on top of that, the vast majority of hackers are looking elsewhere: for websites using open source content management systems.
At Contensive, our talented team of engineers, analysts and designers develop secure custom business websites. We stand 100% behind our product with complete life-cycle support and user training. Contact us to learn more.