DEV Community


Posted on

Custom Vs Open-Source Vs Proprietary CMS: Pros and Cons

When creating a new website, one of the first considerations you must make is which content management system (CMS) to use.  

There are normally three options to consider: a custom CMS, a proprietary CMS, or an open-source CMS. Which one you choose is mostly determined by your business's needs and budget. 

However, with the evolution of the web development industry, the numerous agencies accessible, and the enhancement of the functions of open-source platforms, deciding on a course of action has become a difficult problem. 

In this blog, we discuss the benefits and drawbacks of Open-source CMS vs. Proprietary CMS vs. Custom CMS, highlight potential alternatives, and offer advice on how to select the best platform for your company. 

Image description

What is a Content Management System? 

A content management system (CMS) is a technology that allows you to manage material on a website without having to create or run code.  

In other words, the CMS allows non-technical users to administer websites and add content including text, photographs, and videos. 

To make it easier for the management team to maintain the site, firms should consider the following CMS aspects: 

Features include functionality and customization options. 

·         User-friendliness 

·         Security

·         Speed

·         SEO

·         Maintenance 

Based on them, we may evaluate the three most popular CMS options: open source, proprietary, and custom. 

Comparison between Custom CMS, Open-Source CMS, and Proprietary CMS 

Open-source, custom, and proprietary CMS platforms take diverse ways to achieve the same goal. All three situations result in a website that the client can easily run and manage. 

However, there are significant distinctions.  

Let us have a look: 

Custom CMS

A CMS can be created from scratch by a developer or web development organization using many programming languages such as Python, PHP, ASP, Ruby, Laravel, and JavaScript. 

The Custom CMS is also known as proprietary because the code belongs to (or is the property of) the development business that created it, in contrast to open-source CMS, which is publicly available and accessible to everyone. 

When a firm hires a company to design a CMS for them, they specify exactly what they require, and the supplier builds it. This encompasses everything of the website's functionality, design, and interface, as well as anything else the client desires. 

Once the website is completed, the customer has full access to it and frequently continues communication and cooperation with the development company for further needs. These may involve additional functions, redesigns, maintenance, new employee onboarding, etc.

Pros: The primary advantage of a custom CMS is that, if you have a large enough budget, the result may be virtually anything you desire. Furthermore, many of the drawbacks that you may see in open-source solutions are not present here since the creators have complete control over every detail. 

Cons: Building a new CMS from scratch can be costly. And if it isn't, it could signify that the final product does not meet your expectations.

As a result, you rely heavily on the expertise of the developer or team that you hire. 

Furthermore, based on your demands and the provider's understanding of them, the admin panel and the various functionalities may be complicated to operate. As a result, it may be challenging to onboard new employees, as they will have to learn a completely new interface and way to do work.

Proprietary CMS

Proprietary CMS systems are created by a developer or company who owns the source code and has legal rights to it. Clients can purchase, rent, or use a free licence to create websites using the platform, but the code remains the developer's property and is not open to the public. 

Some examples of proprietary solutions include Adobe Experience Manager, Sitefinity, and Jadu.

Popular SaaS CMS platforms, such as Wix or Squarespace, also belong to the category of proprietary software. 

Pros: The most significant advantage of proprietary CMS software is that it is developed by a dedicated team. This means they can ensure code quality, monitor performance, and make improvements. 

Furthermore, as previously stated, clients are not responsible for the development, updates, or maintenance of their websites. The provider takes care of everything. It's commonly known that many open-source users find this to be a hassle, so if you're one of them, propriety can save you a lot of trouble. 

When it comes to security, one significant advantage is that any flaws and/or issues remain hidden from the public. If your developer detects and addresses problems quickly, it is less probable that the clients will experience any inconvenience.

Cons: The primary downside of proprietary CMS is that the client has virtually no legal rights to their website. Depending on the contract, they may own the content and design, but this is insufficient if you decide to switch providers and relocate to a different platform. 

In a nutshell, you could end up caught in a relationship that is tough to exit.

Additionally, not all proprietary systems are the same. There are numerous providers available, and in order to be successful, you must exercise extreme caution while selecting the best one for your organization. 

Because updates and customizations can be difficult (and expensive) to implement, you must ensure that the product meets all of your business and user-experience requirements. 

Furthermore, you must ensure that the development firm is trustworthy and will continue to actively work on the development of its products. Otherwise, you run the danger of your website falling behind in SEO, security, and technical performance. 

Open-Source CMS

As previously said, the major distinction between open-source CMS platforms and custom and proprietary solutions is who owns the code. A global community of programmers develops, upgrades, and improves open-source content management systems. Thus, anyone can provide feedback on faults, problems, issues, and so on. 

Furthermore, the nature of modern open-source CMS platforms makes it simple to create a website even if you have no programming background or only a basic understanding of coding and technical skills. They are built on themes and plugins, which the client can mix and match to create their own website. 

Open-source content management systems have made web development more accessible to everyone. They made it feasible for everyone, including startups, aspiring entrepreneurs, small company owners, mom-and-pop firms, and average Joes, to develop websites, go online, and start their digital presence.

As a result, over time, these techniques have grown in popularity and swept the internet. 

There are several open-source CMS platforms, the most popular of which are WordPress (43%), and Joomla! (1.7%), and Drupal. The percentages in brackets indicate how many of all the websites online are powered by the particular platform. As you can see, WordPress is the most popular, and it's also our personal favorite.

Just so you know, when people speak about how amazing open-source CMS is, they usually mean WordPress. 

Scalability, versatility, and ease of use are what make it so popular. 

Pros: With open-source CMS, anyone can create a website on a budget. Anyone who wants to utilize the software can do so for free, and as previously said, it takes a few additional skills. 

However, when organizations have specific preferences that they are unable to execute in-house, numerous professional agencies specialize in open-source platforms. Scalability is frequently affected by whether the client tries to construct themselves or hires experienced developers. 

Furthermore, platforms like WordPress are highly customizable and may meet almost any business demand. 

Cons: Open-source solutions require continuous maintenance and updates; otherwise, your data may be vulnerable to hacking. 

Don't forget that, despite the quantity of themes and plugins available, they are not always compatible. Furthermore, the huge diversity makes it tough to choose who to trust. Malfunctioning programming and sporadic updates offer security threats. 

While Custom WordPress development solves these difficulties, it is not inexpensive. This also applies to Joomla! and Drupal. 

As you can see, deciding on the finest CMS for your website is not an easy issue. 


So, what is best for your business? 

It depends! 

If you are a small business owner or simply someone who wants to go digital and requires a basic solution, you can try developing a WordPress website yourself and see how it goes. There are several good tutorials available to help you get started.  

However, if you are a mid-market or large organization, your website will have higher technical requirements. To that aim, you may require a custom solution or a high-end proprietary one. 

However, this does not imply that spending a fortune on one of these is your sole option.  



Choosing between a custom CMS vs. open source vs. Proprietary is a serious decision. After all, your entire digital presence and reputation may depend on it. 

Consider the hazards, financial investment, functionality, and overall quality of the final product. Furthermore, if your firm is large, think about scalability and growth, and how your website may help with both. 

Still not sure which CMS is ideal for your business? Don't hesitate to contact SynapseIndia; we'll help you work things out! 

Top comments (0)