A Comparative Understanding Of Free Source CMS And Custom CMS


Choosing a Content Management System (CMS) that will power your website is one of the most important decisions that you need to take as a developer. It so happens that in many cases, customers themselves suggest they need an upgradation of the website, however, they do not  specify the CMS they want for the upgradation.

So, the decision is often left to you as a professional website developer. In that case, most of the professional developers tend to use an established and recommended CMS platform. In most cases, it is WordPress as it has a great community behind it and offers many facilities.

The other options

However, there is also a group of programmers operating who have developed their own software for managing content. They often use existing JavaScript or PHP libraries within the system. However, such CMS is essentially their own creation.

There are many such roll-your-own systems which have their own CMS for their own websites, for example, the bespoke CMS. Such individual content management systems have also become popular as they offer easy management regarding deployment from a single application and page creation.

Apart from having all the features that you will find in any online content management system, it also offers a set of features to fit the usual requirements of developers. Some of the features that such custom built CMS website application have are as follows –

  • Custom file attributes
  • Multilingual CMS
  • A proper workflow functionality
  • Modification of templates along with resources

The big debate

Now whether to stick to using the ever-dependable WordPress or go for a new roll-your-own system is a topic that’s quite debatable. It’s hard to answer which one is better than the other – each has its pros and cons.

So rather than looking for a winner, you need to have an in-depth understanding of such systems so that you can make a better decision, the next time you are confused. Let’s now try to understand the argument of both the sites.


WordPress Popularity

Statistics reports claim that almost 26% of all websites over the internet run on WordPress. This figure is a testimony to the kind of confidence that developers and website owners have on this open-source software.

The popularity has its justified reasons. While WordPress started out as a blogging platform, over time it has successfully grown in its functionalities, making all types of industries be it news organizations, gigantic corporations, universities or pop stars take to it.

The wide variety of themes and plugins that it offers is simply matchless. Be it the commercial themes and plugins or the free ones, they help to achieve the specific look or uses you want to achieve.

While WordPress may not be perfect but with the use of different customized WordPress plugins, it can be easily molded and shaped as per one’s needs.

Roll-out CMS have their own fun

Roll-out individual CMS like bespoke may be limited to their own knowledge. In other words, with such CMS there is not much you can achieve in functionality or look. The problem with custom CMS is that they are crafted to match the requirements of a particular project and you can hardly make changes in it.

So, you better know what you are doing, since it has no plugin library, unlike WordPress. However, using a custom CMS, customers wouldn’t complain about speed gains.



Though it is established that it is popular, and holds 26% of the market share in WordPress website development, there are agents which are trying to degrade it. As a matter of fact, there are tens and thousands of blocked malicious login attempts in all types of WordPress websites.

Then there is an issue of security holes in popular themes, plugins and the core of WordPress itself. WordPress though does a good job of squashing its own bugs through automatic updates.

However, not all hosting environments work with auto-updates and therefore, there are websites that are outdated and thus with questionable security. There it demands vigilance on the part of the page administrator to keep things updated and follow the security guideline regularly.

Custom CMS

As bespoke CMS is like any other custom CMS, it’s hard to imagine any security lapse. This statement in itself is a strong argument in a case of stronger security offered by custom CMS over open source platforms.

This does not, however, mean that there are no vulnerabilities with a website created on custom CMS platforms. It so happens when best programming practices like ASP, JavaScript, or PHP is not followed. Here the developer is to take the responsibility for the security fixes.

Ease of Usability

The familiarity of WordPress

Though the WordPress dashboard looks cluttered, it is highly flexible in its usage. So if you are looking for something more than just standard posts and pages, you can use plugins or other custom options for specialized content.

Plugins can effectively handle forums, events and photo galleries while with custom post types, custom fields and taxonomies, you can fulfill the custom requirement of different websites. So, it is a great platform not only to organize content but makes the whole content management system a lot more interesting and fun.

Customization offered by custom CMS

The general perception is that when something is custom built, it is a piece of cake, as the software is tailor-made to the needs of a particular site. However, a lot of time this is often not the reality. Custom made Content Management Systems are often not that user-friendly.

It is not that individually, these CMS do not work smoothly, but then again without usability testing, developing an intuitive interface is more like shooting in the dark. As most of these CMS systems are built with a particular client in mind, these are often faulted with unclear paths to tasks and blurred menu items. This calls for research in order to work in such CMS.

Future Maintenance

Always a way out

As WordPress and custom WordPress Developer is here to stay, you needn’t worry about making a website that wouldn’t be viable in the future. Yes, plugin and themes keep changing, they can be abandoned by authors or can have updated versions, which can be a cause of conflict for some time.

However, you can easily choose another bit of plugin from the wide range of options available. It may not be exactly similar like the earlier one but never the less it will serve the purpose.

Left clueless

Yes, with custom CMS, you may not have an update waiting but then there are other issues that crop up at regular intervals and can be quite troublesome. As custom CMS platforms do not have specific standard module of maintenance, it can be tough for a guy who is not the developer, to work in the platform,

Unless a custom CMS has a built-in module to add content or change functionalities, a transition to a new developer often turns out to be a tricky endeavor. This leads to the CMS system being abandoned.

Bottom line

There is a host of things that you need to consider when deciding on a CMS. There are many other factors that you can take into account when taking your call like the initial cost of development. So, it’s better to judge for yourself, judging by your individual theories and beliefs. It’s more a decision of your preference and needs.


Sudeep Banerjee is the Founder and President of B3NET Inc., one of the leading Orange County Web Design & Mobile App Development Company in California, now serving clients nationwide. He brings to work over 26 years of expertise and quality in the various dimensions of Website design, Internet marketing trends and specializes to provide agile mobile apps development strategy. Over the years, he has helped more than 200 clients, which include small startups and large Fortune 500 companies.







Web developer, big fan of CakePHP, loving wordpress soo much. You can found him on Google+ and Facebook. Dont forget to follow him on Twitter.
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