Should you use Open Source for your CMS?
A look at the pros and cons of using an open source CMS platform for your site
Choosing a CMS is never an easy task. At Oshyn, we’ve seen our fair share of CMS selection projects. We know what to look out for and what features of a platform will really be important to your business (for more detailed information about choosing a CMS - check out our free ebook). One topic that we see come up repeatedly when choosing a CMS is whether to go the open source route. While each individual project will have its own specific set of criteria that need to be examined in order to decide on the platform, there are pros and cons that you should consider to help narrow down the decision on whether to use an open source CMS:
Low or no cost
Keep in mind that this low / no cost only applies to the licensing of the software, not the development and maintenance that comes along with a CMS implementation project.
The user interfaces of open source platforms are usually very editor-friendly. For example, WordPress was originally created as a blogging platform that made it easy for anyone to create a blog. Building on that premise, WordPress has kept its user-friendly interface, making it easy for almost everyone to create content on a WordPress site.
Large community of users
An open source platform’s large community of users may be one of its greatest draws. With so many users, it’s easy to find forums, resources, and answers to your platform questions online.
More modules / add-ons
Because of the nature of open source platforms, there are developers worldwide constantly creating additional modules and add-ons to the software. This makes it easy to add functionality to your site (think social sharing, image galleries, capcha forms, etc.) by simply pulling from a module library. One word of warning, however, since individual developers are contributing these to the community, you (or your developer) are in charge of verifying the quality and compatibility of each module used in your site.
Having too many developers in the ‘kitchen’ can put security of open source platforms at risk. Most platforms have regular updates to avoid security issues, but the security is still not as tight as a proprietary platform.
No support team
Though there are ample resources available online, there is no source for you to submit your support tickets or a customer service number for your to call when you have a specific issue with your platform.
While it’s true that some of the largest websites are built on open source platforms, most open source sites are smaller and not created with huge growth in mind, therefore the scalability of these platforms is not proven as well as that of a proprietary platform.
Proprietary platforms have a much tighter ecosystem, which means all modules, add-ons and updates are tested for quality and compatibility. Components work effortlessly with the platforms and with the ecosystem being regulated by one entity, the quality is usually much higher than open source.
There’s a lot to be said about open source platforms and whether they’re a good fit for your website. Take a look through the pros and cons and decide if you have the time and resources available to troubleshoot issues if they arise, are comfortable with the potential security risks, and have the patience to deal with an ever-developing platform. An open source CMS platform may be the right fit for you, but if you’re only choosing based on costs alone, you’ll most likely be disappointed.