Open versus closed source content management systems
6 min read 
Back in the day, if you wanted to change the copy or content on your website you would have to speak to the tech guys, get them to delve into the code and make adjustments to the text.  
These days things are little different. Web publishing software came along and made it easier to make changes to websites, but much of this software was clunky and buggy. Over time, however, it’s evolved into complex and sophisticated content management systems, known as a CMS. 
These days almost every site is built using one. They are mostly open source and driven by online communities designing plugins to achieve specific tasks. But as well as these large-scale open source platforms, there are other options. These include industry-specific platforms used in certain sectors, as well as bespoke closed source CMS built in-house or by design companies. But the big question is, which of these is better for you and most suitable for your business? 
What is open source? 
Open source software is a program or CMS for which the original source code has been made freely available, meaning that the software can be developed and modified to suit the requirements of the user. 
What is closed source? 
Closed source software is a program or CMS for which the source code is not published or shared with the public for anyone to look at or modify. It is owned and distributed by a specific company or organisation. 
The benefits of open source 
The open source system is based on a good idea, and it has really taken off in a big way over the last decade. Platforms like WordPress allow anyone to design and make plugins which attach to the main code, allowing users to achieve specific tasks. Need a checkout area? There are plugins for this. Need to include a photo gallery? There are plenty to choose from. 
These easy to use CMS-based platforms have given bloggers and small businesses the power to design and create their own sites. However, everything is not as rosy as it seems. Because while it may seem like you have a website based on a content management system, what you have in reality is just a content management system. And a content management system should never be used in place of a skilled development team. 
In addition, although promises are made about being free, no CMS really comes without obligations and it’s never as easy as setting it up and letting it take care of itself – not unless you want your site to be underperforming within a few months. If content and design are as important to you as they should be, then you need to put more into your site than just uploading onto a pre-planned platform. 
Today, WordPress powers about a third of all websites on the internet and has made it easy for millions of people to design and create sites, and put their thoughts and opinions on a website. On the one hand, that’s great news. On the other, tens of thousands of sites now share a similar design and merge into one, all with that WordPress feel. 
WordPress is a pretty remarkable tool but it also means that a third of all websites are limited by the same parameters. It’s not a perfect platform and it might be the case that WordPress has too much power. Open source code platforms mean that the goalposts are constantly changing. This is not good for business owners who want to plan a site based around their business strategy. Businesses who like to continually evaluate and change their direction and strategy can also find it frustrating. 
Why a closed source system might be better for business 
If you’re tired of having to worry about WordPress or any other CMS’s agenda in the future, or find being beholden to the direction that these large platforms head towards limiting, then a closed source system might be a good idea. Working with developers who use a closed source system, it is possible to eliminate these concerns. Concentrating only on visitor and business owners’ needs, and never dragging clients into code issues, closed source developers can create in-house CMSs that work for your business rather than a lowest common denominator. 
Rather than using a CMS designed by thousands of different people with no coherent plan in place, why not work more closely with a dedicated content strategist? They, in turn, can work closely with the IT and development team. In essence, why not build your content management system around your content rather than the other way around? 
Before you choose or design your CMS, think about the following. What are the attributes that you want associated with your brand? How important is security? Do you plan to sell online? How much content do you plan to include? Who will design your site and who will train you and your team to use it effectively? What software will you use? And do you have the budget to support upgrades and maintenance? 
Once you have asked and answered all these questions, you will be in a better position to decide what kind of CMS is for you. 
Security concerns 
One of the key questions mentioned above revolves around security. This is a point that is worth looking at a little closer. The world of open source plugins is a little like the Wild West. Anyone and everyone can have a go, and that means that quality can be very hit and miss. 
Open source platforms are, as a result, a prime target for hackers. A recent report found that more than 70% of WordPress installations are vulnerable to hacker attacks. It makes sense. Open source means exactly that, that they are open, and if proper security measures are not put in place, then you and your site could be at risk. This also explains why security updates are an essential part of any budget for a website redesign. Keep up to date and you can make your site a great deal safer than if you use an open source platform at the mercy of hackers. 
If content management is causing you a headache and you’re looking for a system that makes it easy, think long and hard about whether an open source option is the way you want to do it. Closed source gives you greater control, improved safety, and less hassle – all benefits that you’ll experience with our own closed source cms system the: it’seeze website editor, our own unique and easy to use content management system. Want to find out more? Contact our friendly team today to book your free, no-obligation demonstration and discover what our affordable web design services could do for your business. 
Nick Templeton Web Designer
it'seeze Ashford logo
This article is brought to you from the desk of Nick Templeton, consultant for it'seeze Ashford, Kent.  
Nick has been working in the website industry for over 15 years. If you want to find out more about our closed source web design system, feel free to contact us for more information. 
Tagged as: Web design
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