Open Source CMS

Open Source CMS

When deciding on whether to get an CMS based website, or content management system based website, there are a couple of things that need to be considered. In the last couple of years, many open source, or free, CMS systems have gained popularity. This has made it increasingly more difficult for website developers to sell their custom programmed cms applications. Before making a decision on which option is best for you, l’ll explain a bit more about cms.

Content Management Systems (CMS) allow the user to log in via an online administration area to make changes to their websites, update the content, add new pages and much more. We simply refer to them as “Editable” websites, as it much clearer to a person who is not website savvy. This is a much more cost effective solution than a simple HTML website, as you no longer need to pay a developer to make updates or changes to your website. Sounds good, right? exactly what you were looking for, you say? Well, read on then…

The big decision now becomes “do I get an open source CMS or a custom programmed CMS?” This can be a very tough decision. I’ll now explain why:

Open source content management systems are FREE. That’s right, free. However, it is not as simple as that, as you still need the system installed and set up for you (aw shucks!). This can be easily done by people who are familiar with FTP programmes (File Transfer Protocol). This tool (also many free ones available) allows you to communicate directly with the server to upload and download files. So all you need to do then, is download the files for an open source CMS, upload them to your hosting package, and bang! you have a full CMS website ready to roll…. well, no (sorry). CMS sites are database driven, which means you now need to set up the “brain” of the website, so it can do all the work for you. This too is usually simple enough. You just need to log into your hosting control panel, set up a MySQL database and user, etc etc… then come back to the installation screen for the CMS, input all that info and now (finally) bang! you have your full, powerful CMS website ready to roll. But it doesn’t look anything like the sample you saw online, right? well, that’s because everything is set to “default”, so now you have the fun task of finding a template that you like (there are many free ones and paid ones available), customizing it if needed, installing it,….

Ok, by now you must have figured out that while the system is free, there is quite a bit of work involved in setting it up and getting it running the way you want. This is why developers charge for this.

So it turns out the system is not 100% free, as you still need to pay someone to set it up, install and modify a template for you, set up your basic pages and info, etc. Now this is where it gets tricky…

When you speak with a developer and let them know you want a website you can maintain yourself, they will (usually) suggest a CMS system. However, many developers will not tell you about the open source ones, as they obviously want to sell you their system, which is understandable, right? However, their system may cost big $$ which you don’t have! “Now what options do I have?”, you ask. Some will tell you to save up the money, some may offer a flexible payment plan… and some may actually suggest the open source CMS! “Aha!” you say; finally an option I can afford. Now here are some things to keep in mind when negotiating the installation and set up cost:

  1. the system is 100% free, which means they do not need to charge you for the system. Some free CMS systems are Joomla, Mambo, Drupal… just to name the most commonly used ones. Go ahead and Google the names to read more about them.
  2. To save more money, find a free template you like. You can then download this template and send it to your developer, who can install it for you in under 2 minutes. Make sure you find a template meant for your system though! The good thing with Mambo and Jooma is that they are more or less the same system, so many templates can be used by both systems.
  3. If you are not 100% happy with the template, ask the developer what their hourly charge is to modify to your needs. Most of the time simply changing the banner image at the top will give the whole template a new look.
  4. There are many free plugins that can be installed in these systems, that add functionality. WordPress, for example, has a HUGE library of plugins that allow you to do all sorts of cool things.

Custom programmed CMS systems will be more expensive, but usually have alot of benefits that come with the added expense, like :

  1. The system will function exactly the way you want it to. This means you don’t have to navigate your way around a huge, confusing and sometimes complex admin area of the open source cms, to find the function you’re looking for,
  2. The system is usually alot more secure and less vulnerable to hackers. This is because the open source cms system can be downloaded and installed by anyone, including baddies with nothing better to do with their time than sit there and find vulnerabilities in the programming, which they then develop a hack for and attack everyone they can find. Keep in mind that many open source cms and even blog systems, like wordpress, use standard database prefixes, like “wp-” for wordpress. This is a dead give away to a hacker who is looking to target a wordpress system!
  3. Support. Custom programmed cms systems should come with a guarantee, so if anything crashes or stops working, you should be able to call the developer who will then fix it at no cost. An open source system cannot come with a guarantee, as the developer did not create it, just installed it for you.

Ok, I think I have given you a lot to think about… Make sure to keep all this mind when shopping around (and if you call us, we’ll be happy to read you this post over the phone if needed!).

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    February 15, 2011 at 8:09 pm

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    March 15, 2011 at 7:44 am

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    • Sujay
      May 7, 2012 at 12:15 am

      You’re right, Joomla really does make creating and managing websites easy. I love using it, and best of all, it’s free like you say, very good!

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    March 16, 2011 at 10:13 pm

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  • stegnawczasy
    March 18, 2011 at 8:26 am

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    April 7, 2011 at 5:04 am

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    April 13, 2011 at 11:19 pm

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    • Gricko
      October 4, 2012 at 7:55 pm

      Totally agree. Creating a blog is extremely easy, and getting someone to create a blog site for the CMS element is also just as excellent. Having the ability to edit and add your own content whenever you like is the key to maintaining a constant supply of new material the search engines crave. Much better to have a web-presence using Web2.0 that interacts with your readers and audience than a static version that does nothing for you or your business.

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