Is WordPress The Right Content Management System (CMS) For Your Business? Or Do You Need A Custom Solution?
In the age of the Internet, your online presence is vital in growing your brand. Luckily there are many tools in place that can help you establish your business online. Your website is the best way to introduce yourself to potential leads, so you want it to represent your brand while providing something valuable to your visitors
Content is king and how you choose to display it depends on a variety of factors.
To stand out from the crowd, you want to be the best available resource for your visitors. Most people have an appetite for good information, and original content is a means of engaging them.
The medium of your content should be relevant to your brand, whether it’s web pages, blogs, videos, photos, etc. The only limits to content creation are the limits you put on yourself.
A Content Management System (CMS) gives you the ability to edit the content displayed on your website. Ideally, your CMS will make it simple to add and update content, even if you aren’t a programmer.
Your options for hosting a CMS include using a one that is pre-built or building a custom CMS. The most common pre-built CMS available on the web is WordPress. 50-60% of the world’s CMS market is controlled by WordPress, making it 12 times more popular than any other custome management system.
If you're stuck about deciding whether to use WordPress or a custom website/CMS for your business, you're not alone. In order to make an informed decision, you must first understand the differences between these options, and what it could mean for your business.
A customized proprietary content management system is made specifically for your brand, so don’t hold back. If your needs exceed the functionality of existing software, you may need to consider customization.
Flexibility: A hired developer and designer can build almost anything you might need. With WordPress, the designer is limited to templates. While using templates is easier, so easy you can do it yourself, your competition might be using templates as well. When you can’t stand out as a business, your website gets lost among the millions of other sites.
Third party implementations are sometimes easier with a custom CMS as well, since the site can be built around the needs of the tool.
Customization: If you can dream it, someone can build it. For a substantial increase in price, your custom CMS can provide practically any tools you want.
Speed: Since a custom CMS is designed to do exactly what you need it to, there are no extra bells and whistles to slow it down. The code can be optimized to serve your unique needs, thus increasing the site speed.
Ease of Use: The users only see what they need to see, in order to do their jobs. Your staff can quickly learn to use an intuitive custom CMS, meaning you can spend less time training and more time using your new customized solution.
Support: Committing to a custom CMS usually means you will have in-house support from developers who understand what your business needs, so problems are generally solved within hours.
Cost: As you would expect, a website built on a custom CMS will cost substantially more than a WordPress website. Building a custom CMS requires an experienced professional with an advanced set of skills, so you can expect to pay substantially more for a custom site than you would for a WordPress site. You have to decide how much you want to invest in your website.
Implementation: A tailored solution requires a longer lead time for development. A custom CMS will require a massive investment of time and if you’re paying a developer, money to build; however, customizing a WordPress website will require extended development time as well.
Hosting: Most CMS solutions will include monthly hosting and support, which means you have to use whatever provider your designer chooses.
Add-ons and Plug-ins: Unlike WordPress, all additional tools will have to be built to specifically fit the custom design that only your developer can support, or you will have to pay for another development team to learn the customization in order to support it.
This CMS platform is used by media moguls CNN, Mashable, and Tech Crunch. In fact, WordPress powers about 4.5 percent of the entire internet!
Cost: As an open-source CMS, WordPress is totally free to use, but you still have to pay for hosting and domain registration. Plug-ins and paid themes can add to the cost as well, so the overall price will vary depending on the functionality you need.
Open Source: This means the code base is editable and available to everyone; you do not have to purchase anything to begin using the system. You can also host your site anywhere on the web where millions of developers can help you make the most of your website.
Ease of Use: You don't have to be a developer to use it. WordPress is great for businesses who want to consistently publish content, with or without the help of a web developer. It’s also easy to learn how to update an already-built website. Wordpress is fairly intuitive, but it takes a certain level of expertise to fully utilize.
Themes and Plug-ins: Although it starts as a generic platform, WordPress allows savvy users to design their own themes. As a result, the multitude of paid and free themes available enable you to build a website that suits your brand. Additionally, the vast library of available WordPress plugins provides sufficient functionality for almost any business or purpose.
Implementation: Any kind of website is a significant project, but WordPress allows you or your developer to use pre-built structures to keep project costs down. WordPress website will provide your business with excellent CMS services and help ensure a higher ROI.
Speed: Like anything that is shared online, WordPress can get bogged down by traffic. The code is written to cover a wide range of applications, so it can hoard resources. Generally, WordPress sites are only slow due to poorly-designed plugins and themes, or excessively large content, such as uncompressed photos. The WordPress CMS itself is a fairly efficient system, and a professional hosting company can make a WordPress site even faster by working with different web technologies, such as Content Delivery Networks (CDN).
Functionality: WordPress comes in a basic package, but plug-ins are available to customize your site, including- social media, contact forms, SEO, cache, sliders, etc. Because of the widespread, open-source nature of the platform, plugins are available for almost any purpose. That said, WordPress doesn’t necessarily support or isn’t ideal for certain advanced functions that a custom CMS could be better suited for, such as social media networking.
Customization: In order to ensure that your WordPress site looks and feels exactly the way you want, you may still need a designer and developer. WordPress is extremely customizable, but total control over your site can mean building your own theme or plugins. The WordPress CMS is intuitive and useful for many types of websites, but one CMS might not be customizable to all your needs.
Before making a big decision about your content management system, you should evaluate the needs of your business. Start with these questions:
- How big is your business? How many end users do you expect for your site?
- How important is price?
- How much time do you have to implement a system?
- What level of customization do you need?
- Do you intend to outsource development? What about maintenance?
The answers to these questions will help guide you in making the right choice for your company.
Our take: A custom CMS can be necessary for certain situations, but we love using WordPress for our clients!
Using a custom CMS generally requires either in-house web developers or committing to a single web development company. For major corporations who can afford a dedicated in-house web team, this option makes sense.
For the vast majority of businesses, however, we believe WordPress is an excellent solution.
WordPress websites are significantly more affordable while offering enough customization and functionality for almost any business. Using WordPress also gives you the flexibility to work with different developers, and helps you ensure that your website can adapt to changing design trends online.
Well-built WordPress websites look great, work well, and cost less than websites built with a custom CMS. What’s not to love?
Editor’s Note: Originally published in 2016, this article was updated and edited in October 2018.