What is a “Proprietary CMS” and Why Should You Avoid Them?

Proprietary CMSs and Why to Avoid Them
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This is a question you may encounter as you begin the website creation process. It’s an important one because it will serve as the basis of everything you do online going forward. First off, CMS stands for Content Management System, with open source platforms giving you complete control and access to all content on your website without requiring you to know convoluted computer coding. From posting pictures and blogs to updating content and adding events, power is at your fingertips to manage every aspect of your website design without being at the mercy of someone else.

According to Search Engine Land, many websites these days are powered by a CMS along with a back-end database, mostly because it’s cumbersome and prohibitive to code HTML on a page-by-page basis. Plus, you can expand your content possibilities to thousands of pages or more.

Types of Systems

There are two main types of CMS platforms: open source and proprietary.

Open source involves a code source and platform that can be shared by everyone. Usually, one party manages it but anyone can access it. WordPress is the best example of this. This provides the platform for website creation, but permission is granted to anyone in your company to make changes, modifications, and updates at their leisure. Open source is typically free and open to anyone, hence the name “open source.” From customization to hosting to design, you can have a hand in it.

Open source systems like WordPress are associated with a whole community, giving you full access to the code backed by a well-documented platform that’s extremely user friendly, says Computerworld.

But, while open source is an amazing development that has enabled people all over the world to contribute in meaningful ways thanks to versatile and intuitive tools, says Forbes, it still runs head to head in competition with traditional software vendors. Which leads us to the next type…

Proprietary CMSs are built from the ground up and are subsequently maintained by one company, usually a web designer/developer. This person or company has complete control over creation of the website, from features to functionality. They must have a license to use the software they are using, and as such, proprietary software companies don’t readily give access to the source code of their product.

Why Avoid Proprietary CMS?

While there are some advantages to proprietary CMS, such as custom design, support and no hassles with software updates and bug fixes, there are far more disadvantages that put open source over the top.

First off, there’s no sense of community and collaboration with these over open source. Because the software is proprietary software, by its very definition not everyone can contribute to the system’s features, which are pre-defined and developed by a team within the web design company.

Next, you don’t have as much control over customization. With one person handling all software components, it’s not as easy to locate add-ons and plug-ins that are adaptable to your website.

The licensing fee alone may not be worth it for you in the end. Because the software is proprietary, it’s fee-based. You’re under contract to pay monthly or even annually. Plus, the hosting will cost you as well. You pay that company to host your website on their server, again for a set fee.

There is sometimes a question as to whether you own your own design or can gain access to the content on your website. You must ask this up front, as you may never gain full ownership of your own site. It’s all in the fine print.

Bottom line is, you can’t log in to the back end of your site, add content and make changes at will. You have to run those changes by the designer and he or she will input the changes, update the site, and then allow you to check it over. So, every time you want to make a change, you have to go through that company.

With open source, you can do all of that on your own. The power is in your hands, and that’s the single most positive benefit for platforms like WordPress. It’s popular for a reason. WordPress powers nearly 27 percent of the Internet, making it by far the most popular CMS on the web, according to Torque. With a market share of about 60 percent, its closest competitor (Joomla!) is used by just 6.3 percent. Those are pretty strong numbers!

Contact A Servant’s Heart Web Design and Marketing

Here at A Servant’s Heart Web Design and Marketing, we prefer to use open source CMS. That’s why we power all our websites with WordPress. Contact us today at (760) 227-2720 to learn more about our WordPress web design and get a free consultation.



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