Custom CMS or Open Source CMS?

The benefits of content management systems
Web Design - CMS
Web Design – CMS

Most dynamic websites that you see on the internet will make use of a CMS (content management system) that allows the website administrator to regularly update the content of the site.

Is an open-source CMS right for me? Or should I consider a custom-made CMS?

Generally, there are two CMS options that people choose from when starting a website – using a custom made CMS (such as the Creo CMS, iCreate), or using an open-source CMS (WordPress, Drupal, etc.). Depending on your needs, there are benefits and drawbacks to each. Here’s a quick comparison:


Custom CMS

It would be advisable for the developer of the CMS to set up the hosting as there will be specific requirements for the server setup and server type.

Open Source CMS

For the most popular content management systems, most larger hosting companies should be able to host them.

CMS Updates

Custom CMS

The CMS developer, according to what would be best for their clients, will control updates to the CMS.

Open Source CMS

The open source CMS developers will release updates. Any changes would be out of the control of the developer that has implemented the CMS. The individual client would have less say in how the CMS is updated.

Implementing general functionality

Custom CMS

Any additional functionality would have to be added by the developer at the request of the client.

Open source CMS

There is usually a large community of developers that release modules for a CMS that can be used within the website. It is usually the case of seeing what modules are available and adapting the requirements to how the modules function.

Implementing bespoke functionality

(for example, if creating an ecommerce website, having a T-shirt designer as opposed to a simple product listing that you select to buy from)

Custom CMS

It would be easier to add specific functionality, as the developer would have created the system.

Open source CMS

Generally, the modules available would need to be modified in order to achieve specific requirements. The issue with this is that if the original module developer releases an update, any modifications will be lost and the changes would need to be added again. The other option is to create a custom module from scratch, although this module will need to be checked/updated each time the CMS is updated to make sure it still works with the updates.

Resolving issues

Custom CMS

Custom built so if there are any issues it is easier for the develper to resolve them.

Open source CMS

Generally, modules created by the community are used to add functionality to a website. If issues arise from these modules in most cases you would have to wait until the developer that created the module releases an update that fixes the issue (if they fix this issue at all).


Custom CMS

The advantage of being a custom CMS is that there are not many hackers that would actively target the CMS when compared to websites using an open source CMS.

Open source CMS

The creators of the open source CMS will release regular security updates, although since the CMS code is the same across numerous websites there will be a much larger number of people attacking the system.

If creating a simple website, it would seem that an open source solution may be better for a lot of people, but when it comes to websites that need more bespoke functionality a custom CMS would be recommended.

At Creo, we can advise upon and provide the solution that best fits your needs.

Robert Kinsella
Senior Developer
Date Posted
27th March 2013

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