Selecting a content management system (CMS) is one of the most important decisions you make when developing a website for your business. The CMS is like the basement of your home. It’s the foundation upon which everything else is built. You will use the CMS to update content, create new pages, retrieve your leads, send out transactional/automated emails, and manage everything else on your site.
Content management systems are vital to communicating your brand’s story and creating a digital experience consumers expect. However, as with any mission-critical technology platform, finding the best fit solution matched to your business and user needs is easier said than done.
As a rule, you have two options to choose from:
- Use an off-the-shelf, template-based, open-source CMS solution like WordPress, Drupal or Joomla
- Use a custom CMS built for you like the epicPlatform
Major differences can be found in the following areas:
- Web Standards
- Ease of Use
Let’s take a look at the key differences between the most popular open-source CMS, Wordpress, and a custom CMS.
Using Wordpress is sort of like “making your website fit into a box”. Using a custom CMS is sort of like “making the box fit to your website.”
Wordpress works by choosing what’s known as a “theme” from a collection of design templates. The theme tells Wordpress (and the content added by you, the admin) how to behave on the “front end” design of the website. Scroll behavior, image placement, text sizes, and much more are controlled by the theme. While there are hundreds, or even thousands of themes available, some free and some paid, they almost always require some level of customization to achieve the look and feel your brand requires. Making changes to a theme can sometimes be a simple project. More often than not, however, it becomes a very difficult task not worth the level of work it requires to complete.
Not so with a custom CMS — that’s because this form of content management system is modular, which means each page is built from standardized parts (modules) with the ability to work independently from one another. You determine how you want each module to translate data from the back end as content on the front end.
Wordpress is “open source,” which means even the baseline code is available for anyone to download and use — for free. While there are thousands of wonderful use-cases and developers with great intentions of helping the community, there are also many bad actors who seek to spam, steal, and undermine the integrity of your website, your user data and more. Since Wordpress sites are heavily reliant on 3rd party plugins, developed by individuals with whom you almost certainly have no established relationship, there are more avenues for attack and more hoops to jump through should a breach occur.
Open-source systems are frequently attacked because their code base’s broadcast signals (to spiders, bots, and other indexing tools) are universal. Hackers can deploy a “crawler” to identify what websites are running a version of WordPress with a security vulnerability and attempt to hijack the system from there. Conversely, built within each custom CMS is a codebase unlike any other — they’re far less likely to be discovered by spam crawlers that may not even know to look for them.
All told, bespoke security within a content management system equates to far less downtime, almost no need for patches, and untold savings from potential lawsuits that can arise from something like a data breach.
Updates + Web Standards
Using WordPress is like building and running your business with nothing but freelancers. Using a Custom CMS is like hiring employees, dedicated to the growth of your brand.
Web standards and browser versions change regularly, almost a few times a year. When this happens and one of the plugins on your WordPress website breaks as a result of that change, the developer who created your system is essentially stuck with two options: wait or rebuild. Waiting until the 3rd party developer whom you’ve never met returns to their project and implements the fix on their end is a gamble. Asking your developer to locate, design, and code an alternative solution can get very time consuming and pricey.
A custom CMS is built to your specifications, by a team of developers well-attuned to the Web’s evolving landscape and the effects those tectonic shifts may have on your website. Your major advantage here is a working relationship and the communication that comes with that. When a needed update does slip through the cracks, there’s no wondering who’s accountable or who to call. When it’s time to bring your site “up to code,” it has the support of structural engineers who are already intimately familiar with its architecture.
Ease of Use
Using WordPress is like “buying an 11-bedroom house for 2 people”. Using a Custom CMS is like “designing and living in your dream home.”
WordPress is loaded with useless details. Chances are your website will require roughly 30% of the core WordPress functionality and even fewer of the plugins you choose to install — all that excess ultimately leads to bogging down site speed and admins who are less tech-savvy.
Custom CMS, on the other hand, is lightweight and adaptable to your established operations. It will include all the features you need, and none that you don’t, leaving you with a clean, comprehensive, and intuitive interface that is a pleasure to use.
Simplify Content Management with the epicPlatform
When seeking out a content management system, you want a platform that works with you and not against you. Being stuck with something that is difficult or cumbersome to use results in employee inefficiency, higher maintenance costs, decreased user engagement (because providing new or updated user experiences will be too much of a chore), and even a loss of business or customers as you struggle to turn around content promptly and properly.
Wouldn’t it be nice to invest your energy in creating compelling content that resonates with your customer base instead? EpicPlatform’s intuitive interface won’t get in your way — just one hour of training and you’ll be on your way.