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Comparison Between Open Source And Custom Web Development

By Expert Author: Jigar Shah

Choosing between an Open-source Content Management System (CMS) and a Custom-built CMS has always been a topic of discussion. Considering the past, when open source CMS was really shaping up and was at its infancy stage, it was deemed that the best option is to develop a CMS that was tailor made to the client’s specifications. But the truth is , there are advantages to both Open-source CMS and Custom-Built CMS, depending on the requirements and system needed, so there is no definite answer to which is the ‘Best’.

Here we shall compare the two and look at the pro’s and con’s for both Open-source and Custom-built CMS’s. But before we head in that direction, let us have a brief understanding of the two.

CMS stands for Content Management System. As the name suggests, it is a system that lets you manage the content for your website. When the option of Open-source was not available, all you could do was to get a custom-built developed. Custom developed CMS would mean that you give the development company a list of features you need in your CMS and it would be custom developed for you. Open Source, in contrast is freely available software developed collaboratively by likeminded individuals.

Let us discuss the factors that help us in choosing the best option.

Cost Factor

Open source is free and can be downloaded by anyone to design his/her website. Hence, when a website is designed using open source, the company charges you for the design and not for the development for the CMS. On the other hand, using a custom-built CMS is much more expensive compared to open source as the company charges you for the custom coding for the CMS.


Having a website is great. Once the site is launched you may presume nothing will have to be changed as all the details and requirements were discussed with your developer, but that’s never the case. Using a custom-built CMS means you are usually stuck with the web company if there are any changes, even for little things such as updating a home page image, so it is important to think before proceeding with a project.

The value of an open-source content management system means that you can usually complete the changes yourself, and if not, there are hundreds of support forums and people available to help you along your way.

Availability of features

This may sound a little strange, but open source CMS will have a lot more features than a custom developed CMS. Open source is used by many people and gets upgraded regularly over time. Because of the variety and diversity of people using it, there are upgrades and bug fixes for the next release of the software. Also, there are thousands of free and paid plug-ins available that extend the functionality of your open source CMS website.

Since open source is used by majority of web designing companies today, so switching your design company is not a problem. Any company can provide you with the ongoing support, which of course is not possible with custom developed CMS. Custom software is prone to errors and ongoing bug fixes and maintenance is going to be expensive and unavoidable. With open source you can simply upgrade to the newer version at the click of a button, as in the case of Word Press.


There is always someone out there smarter than you. Therefore, you are always susceptible to getting hacked regardless of whether you are using a custom or an open source CMS.

"Open source is insecure...." First off, this is a common misconception. It obviously depends on what system you are using. For example- Drupal, there are thousands of developers who use this open source system and keep it up to date to keep hackers out. If you use the system correctly and make sure you update the system, then you won't have any issues regarding security.

If you go with a custom CMS and you are not a technical person, how do you determine if this developer is skilled enough to build a great system that is secure? What if their idea of a CMS is a back end that just allows you to edit text? And they leave the entire back end open, or they don't encrypt the passwords which is a common problem we see.

There is no definite factor in choosing between Open Source or Custom built CMS. Unless your requirements can not be fulfilled with any of the existing Open Source CMS available, a custom built CMS can be considered.

Apex Global Solutions a Los Angeles based Leading Web Development Company offers custom web development, Content Management Solutions, Website Design, Website development Los Angeles and Internet Marketing Services like SEO services, SMO, Email Marketing. For more information contact at: info@apexglobalsolutions.com

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