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Open Source vs. Proprietary CMS – What You Should Know

More and more companies are opting to use a Content Management System (CMS), like Joomla, DotNetNuke or WordPress, when they redesign their site so that they can can add, edit and delete content on the fly.

But, before you jump in with both feet, it’s important to make a decision about whether you will use an open source CMS or a proprietary system.  Here’s where we can help.


Open Source vs. Proprietary CMS – what’s the difference?

  1. Site Ownership – an Open Source CMS is one that has been developed with input from many programmers across the web-o-sphere with ownership of the code provided in the public domain.  A proprietary CMS is one that a specific web design firm has developed on their own with which they will build your site.  The key question to ask your prospective developer is “who will own the source code for your web site” if you choose to move your site to another web host.   An Open Source CMS like DotNetNuke, Joomla or WordPpress can easily be moved to other web hosts – you will own rights to your entire site.  But you might not own the underlying code for a site built in a Proprietary CMS, thus making it difficult or impossible to move should your web developer fall out of favor.
  2. Ease of Maintenance – As you know, Internet technology changes pretty fast (are we on IE 100.12 yet?) and with many different types of browsers in use, making sure your site functions properly in all of them can be a challenge.  Open Source CMS has the advantage of constantly being updated, with many developers contributing so that the technology will work appropriately in any new browsing environment.   With proprietary code, it’s up to your developer whether they update the code so that your site works across all platforms.
  3. Many Hands – It may not work with cooks and kitchens, but having many programmers who understand the underlying source code for your site is a good thing.   With an Open Source CMS there are many developers who can assist you with site edits and updates should you dispatch your current developer.   That usually isn’t the case with a Proprietary CMS – the company that built it is generally the only one that can manage it without a huge learning curve by a different team.
  4. Many Apps – One of the nicest advantages of using an Open Source CMS is that you can have your site built using applications already developed by someone else.  For sites that have a lot of different features and functionality, this can yield a big cost savings compared with doing a custom build.  Oftentimes with Open Source CMS, there are multiple modules available for the same function, but with different bells and whistles so that your developer can pick the ones best for your site.  A Proprietary CMS usually won’t have as many module options.
  5. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – Open Source CMS developers have keyed into the importance of sites ranking well on search engines, so each of the platforms offers special SEO modules that get your site started on the right foot.  As for Proprietary CMS platforms, depending on who built it and when, they may not provide the tools you’ll need to optimize your site properly.

Pilot Fish offers site development and maintenance in several Open Source CMS platforms, including Joomla,WordPress and DotNetNuke.   We also can evaluate your existing proprietary CMS to determine whether we can host and/or update it for you.

For assistance with your site, call 877-799-9994 ext. 2102 or fill out our form.


Open Source vs. Proprietary CMS – what’s the difference?