Webposse first met with the Leeds Law Society nearly 1 year ago, they wanted to move away from their current web developer but felt tied in because the site was built using Custom CMS technology. Moving would have meant having to completely rebuild the site. Although they had problems with Custom CMS, the company was slow to support, the back end was old and difficult to update easily – the cost of rebuilding and the internal time was difficult to justify.
A couple of months ago we met with Leeds Law Society again as their provider had ceased trading, and they were left with no alternative but to rebuild the site. We were happy to help them out.
After discussions with the liquidator re the old supplier – the liquidator wouldn’t release the back end so an interim solution we built a basic HTML site to maintain the website while we built the new solution. Leeds Law Society were keen that the new website was built in an open source platform so they were protected going forward.
This issue raise the bigger on going discussion: is Open source is better than a Custom CMS
Companies that build Custom CMS (locked in systems) will state that they are more secure and have a dedicated team, while this may be true they don’t tell you that you aren’t buying the source code or anything you own. You may also have to pay monthly or yearly payments – maintenance fees – as you are officially leasing their system.
As Leeds Law Society found out, you are reliant on the support team for any future development with their time frame, and at their cost structure, in our experience modifying the code is not always an option – you have to fit in with their existing system.
If you find the relationship breaks down then you can’t simple switch to a new development team as this will mean moving off of the platform completely. A complete rebuild Some solutions are aimed specifically at niche markets that require a great deal of customisation, if this is the case, you should be careful, moving away from this platform may be very painful. The best way to know what you are getting yourself into with a proprietary CMS is to research other companies that are currently using the service and giving them a one-to-one unsolicited call.
Leeds Law Society now has a great looking responsive website built in an open source platform that is easy to use and update and there are plenty of options open for the future.
Are Open Source products free of issues.
Well known Open Source CMS systems, like WordPress for example offer a wide range of extensions and plugins. Adding these to a site will allow for customisation that a closed CMS can’t offer, typically at a fraction of the cost. You are only paying for the cost of the plugin, and the styling to match your site, not for the high cost of developing it. WordPress, has constant, consistent upgrades and now offers a higher level of security.
Open-source solutions, can be modified and customised at any time. There are plenty of expert developers who can improve your site easily, should your relationship fail with your current supplier you can move the site and maintain your investment without a major rebuild.
There are pitfalls with any solution, security and spamming are an ongoing concern whatever the system, regular updates are required – a site with multiple plugins needs a bit more care as each plugin needs to be regularly updated. But we think the Pros out way the Cons and would look to an Open Source solution first.
It is important that the customer has ownership of the site, this means not just the content but the source code as well.