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Whether you need to establish a new web presence or redesign your current website, you need to have a content management system (CMS) for maintaining and updating your digital content. It’s critical to select the right CMS that best suits your needs, since after your initial design there is a good chance that it will be your most frequently used web maintenance tool.  But how do you make your choice?

There are many different types of CMS systems that are available for businesses to choose from. Most are template-based platforms that are more affordable, in addition to customized solutions offering unique benefits. Your decision will ultimately be based on which system fits your needs the best.

Customization possibilities

The most important feature that a custom CMS provides is the ability to build your platform according to your precise and exact specifications. An alternative to custom development is WordPress, which offers plugins to help meet the needs of individual businesses. However, plugins only provide limited functionality for a generalized platform.    

WordPress is used by nearly 60 per cent of websites as their core CMS software. However, it’s near impossible to create a platform that will meet your individual marketing, content and web needs.

Client input

It’s a very simple process to start using a WordPress CMS: take an existing platform and make limited modifications to it to fit in with your overall digital strategy, and run with it!

On the other hand, a custom CMS, allows for a lot more direct input.  From the very beginning, you and your web developer can work together to establish what your needs are for your platform. Then you help test the CMS to make sure it meets all of your specifications, while there are numerous opportunities woven in to provide feedback. When a custom CMS is implemented, you can be directly involved in the entire design as well as implementation process of the system.


WordPress is an open source CMS system, meaning its code is accessible to everyone. It’s affordable, which is great. But in terms of safety, it isn’t very advantageous. New vulnerabilities and attacks on WordPress codes arise on a regular basis, which places your website at risk constantly due to the fact that it functions through the use of the same base code.

However, a custom CMS doesn’t, as we established above. The code gets designed from scratch, so you are a lot less vulnerable towards attacks that might not even be directly aimed at you. Due to its customizability, you might even be able to get your developer to integrate additional security measures for you.  

More reasons to choose a custom CMS

Having a proprietary customized CMS may be similar to LEGOs; the only limit there is is your creativity. However, if you plan on designing your own website, you’ll need to seriously consider customization. Your needs may be greater than the functionality of current software that exists.

  • Flexibility: Having a website designer and developer who can help you build anything you need is helpful. However, third-party implementations are also easier when using a custom CMS.
  • Plugin-ins and Add-ons: Unlike WordPress, all additional tools need to be built to fit your custom design specifically that can only be supported by your developer. Otherwise, you will need to pay a different development team to become familiar with the customization to be able to provide support.  
  • Hosting: Monthly support and hosting is included with most CMS solutions, which means you will need to use whichever provider your designer selects.  
  • Cost: Yes, a custom CMS does cost more than a template-based format. It requires an advanced and specific set of skills as well as lots more time to build a custom CMS, so you should expect to pay double at least (or more) for a custom website compared to a WordPress website.  
  • That’s why it’s important to decide what advantages are most important to you.
  • Speed: Given that a custom CMS will be designed to do precisely what you need it to do, it won’t be dragged down by any unnecessary bells and whistles. The code may be optimized in order to serve specific functions and increase the speed of your website.
  • Ease of use: To do their jobs, users only see what they actually need to see. An intuitive, well-written CMS may be easier to teach staff how to use compared to a more complex backend.
  • Support: Usually a custom CMS has dedicated in-house support from your developers. Therefore, usually problems are solved quickly.

What decision is right for you?

Before you can make a decision on a CMS to use, evaluate what your business needs are. Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. How large is the company? What number of end users will need access to the website?
  2. How important is price to you?
  3. What amount of time do you have available for implementing a new system?
  4. What degree of customization are you going to need?
  5. Are you planning on outsourcing the development? How about maintenance?

Your answers to the questions above can help guide you into making the best decision for your business.  

Our opinion: In certain situations, a custom CMS might be necessary depending on your needs.

To use a custom CMS it will usually require you to either commit to a web development company or have in-house web developers.  The option can make sense for a major corporation that is able to afford having a dedicated in-house web development team.

However, for most businesses, we think WordPress provides a great solution.  Websites which run on WordPress are much more affordable, and still offer enough functionality and customization for most businesses. When WordPress is used, it also provides you with the flexibility to be able to work with various developers, and ensure that your website will be able to adapt to changes in online design trends.

At the end of the day, you need a fully functioning website that’s designed for conversions. You can get there with a custom CMS, or templated WordPress website. The only difference is the time and effort you have to get it all done.

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James BohanonJames BohanonJames Bohanon is a digital marketing strategist that specializes in SEO, content marketing, website design and development. When not writing, he spends his time reading up on the latest trends and forecasts for the industry.View all posts by James Bohanon