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Open Source vs. Proprietary CMS: Owning Your Website

August 29, 2017 by Eternity
Tags: MODX

If you’ve been thinking about getting a website for yourself or your business, then it’s likely that you have already come across the term: Content Management System or CMS.

What Is a Content Management System?

Simply put, by a content management system, we are referring to any software application used to create, customize, and manage your information or content.

Over the years, these have come to largely involve the quick creation and maintenance of powerful websites, often without much need for in-depth programming knowledge.

Today we can broadly differentiate two types of CMS: Proprietary and Open Source.

In our modern age, absolute beginners can—and often do get started with their own websites using these two types of content management systems.

But which is which, and which would work best for you?

Proprietary CMS

These are content management systems that are owned by a company which holds all the rights associated with the system. These companies then sell licenses that allow users to use their CMS.

Often, even with a license, users are restricted from duplicating the CMS or making any changes to it unless they purchase a more expensive ‘Developers’ license.

Pros of a Proprietary CMS

  • They are a great option if your business is more than just your website. Using a proprietary CMS might still work well even if your online presence defines your business, but you are only interested in the content rather than the technical functionalities.
  • Under a full hosting plan, the company behind the CMS handles all the gritty technical aspects that come with running your websites such as updates, upgrades, security issues, and bugs.
  • They often come with great designs that truly add flair to your website. This works great if great design represents the entire scope of all you want for your website.

Cons of a Proprietary CMS

  • Proprietary CMS severely limit the amount of freedom that you can enjoy with your website. You have limited options for software enhancements and customizations. Anything along these lines will usually be limited to standard modules and functionalities.
  • With proprietary CMS, you run the risk of losing access and ownership of your content and website design should you decide to move on for any reason. You need to ensure these are guaranteed before you commit.
    Licenses tend to be very costly.
  • Because many web hosting companies do not support proprietary CMS, you may be limited in your choice of where to host your website if you decide to move on.
  • Many proprietary CMS websites will only work as they are intended, provided they are hosted by the CMS owner.
    Open Source CMS
  • Open Source content management systems can be used by anyone for any purpose, and do not require you to purchase a license. Unlike with proprietary CMS, you can customize your open source CMS without special permission or license.

Pros of Open Source CMS

  • No licenses to buy, no fees for upgrades, no long term commitments.
  • There are countless free modules and plugins that you can choose from—a consequence of many contributors available in the development of open source CMS. Many of these upgrades and plugins don’t require you to hire a developer.
  • Thousands of free and paid templates at your disposal when you use open source CMS.
  • Many open source content management systems are built with a specific group of people in mind. A good example is Wordpress which caters to personal blogs and small enterprises, among others. This focus on a small group of needs makes open source CMS easy to customize, and flexible enough to meet your particular needs.
  • Search engines love open source CMS. Some open source content management systems are really easy to optimize for search engines using simple plugins and add-ons.

Cons of Open Source

  • Many of the templates that you get from open source CMS are free, and this reflects in the quality.
  • There is little if any technical support included. While there is a vibrant community of contributors behind any open source CMS, none of the members are working on your project specifically. Any technical support that your website may require going forward will have to be done by your developer.
  • It’s possible to move your site and content to the care of another developer if you want to, but the process might prove cumbersome due to design ownership issues, customizations, and design considerations. In general, every developer has their own preferences, and changing developers will most likely entail a complete overhaul and redesign of your website.
  • Even with open source CMS you have to make sure that your design is yours. With template websites where the design is not exactly yours, transferring to another host might prove difficult, and impossible if you intend moving to another platform altogether.

Which Type of CMS Is Best for You?

That choice depends on your budget and what your particular needs are. But open source CMS are dominating both in demand and capabilities right now, and the trend seems set to continue for the foreseeable future.

Organizations that use open source CMS include Ford, CNN, eBay, People Magazine, and the White House.

But apart from being in good company, going down the open source route is both easier on your budget and allows for a gentler learning curve.

If you’re a complete beginner, you could start with any of the most popular right now: MODX, Wordpress, Joomla, or Drupal.

Eternity exclusively uses and specializes in the open-source MODX Content Management System

Contact us today to chat about the benefits of MODX CMS.