With the popularity of open source content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, Joomla andd Drupal over the past few years, development costs have dropped dramatically for customers who desire a website that they can easily edit and manage themselves without programming skills. It seems that the glory days of the proprietary CMS are not as profitable as they once were, which is good news for everyone.
A proprietary CMS is a database driven, content management system website that the website owner can login to and make changes. Yahoo Store, many automotive dealer and real estate websites are a good example of this. A good CMS is easy for the novice to use and offers all the flexibility they need. The problem with a proprietary CMS is that development costs and monthly fees are much higher than an open source solution. Features may be outdated or a company may be slow to add the latest, greatest functionality (ie. “bells & whistles”). Even small changes to a proprietary CMS can be quite costly or require you to sign up for a “maintenance contract” or require a minimum hours of project work before the company will even begin to assist you. Many people who often find this out later feel locked into something that is costly and inflexible. Unfortunately, they have invested thousands of dollars and if they are not satisfied with their proprietary CMS, they lose everything when they discontinue services and must start again from scratch.
On the other hand, open source content management systems such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal (and many others) are free to download and upgrade costing you only the development costs. Because they are open source code, you have the advantage of backing up and saving your website database and files. If you’re not happy with your web design company or they should go out of business, etc. you can simply take your database and files to another company. You cannot do this with a proprietary CMS so if you don’t use it…you lose it. Another advantage to the open source CMS is constant development and new widgets or features that are often free, very low cost and take only minutes to install. A fraction of the cost that a company offering a proprietary CMS would charge. These are the reasons that Alpine Web Media works with the open source CMS model.
To be fair, the companies who offer proprietary CMS’ will say that open source solutions are more vulnerable to viruses and hackers. Like any other popular software, that is true. However, nothing on the web is 100% safe from hackers, not even a proprietary CMS. There are a number of debates on the web about “open source vs. proprietary CMS” and it’s easy to see that the “proprietary” crowd are fighting to retain their high profits and 100% control over their customer’s websites. Their primary argument is that their systems are safer from hackers. If your open source CMS is developed properly with the correct file permission, strong passwords, file backups and vigilant updates, you really don’t have much to worry about, proprietary or not.
A number of large corporations and government organizations utilize open source content management systems. For instance, the White House website is based on Drupal. I think open source is a pretty safe bet and certainly far more flexible and cost efficient. Ultimately, the decision is up to you and your budget.