Welcome to the first post in our series on choosing and evaluating a CMS. Since you're here, we're guessing you're still scouting for information about the differences between open source and proprietary systems.
To help, we've put together what we think are top considerations and differences between the two:
Effort and Expertise
No matter how easy it seems, an open source solution is not usable right off the shelf. It will require a pretty large investment in time because you'll be responsible for installing, setting up and troubleshooting everything yourself. Don't know about web layouts and HTML? You will definitely need to do some homework before you tackle configuring an open source CMS.
A proprietary system is created by evaluating your needs and designing and developing to the specs of your site. The entire content management system is ready to use as soon as you have login credentials.
Just like any software, there may be occasions when something within your CMS isn't working properly. Open source and proprietary CMS are different in terms of how you'll be able to solve technical problems.
With an open source CMS, troubleshooting falls to you and a large, wide-reaching online community of fellow users. The community is typically housed on a website and is full of crowdsourced documentation, fixes and bug information. You'll be responsible for seeking out and implementing any solutions you find. Person-to-person support is limited to messages and message board threads.
By contrast, when you implement a proprietary CMS, bug fixes, custom enhancements and technical support is generally available to all users. A support person will be available to help you with any technical problems that arise and you'll typically receive supplementary online support manuals and knowledge base access.
In terms of scope, open source content management systems offer many nicely templated designs with standard options, but you'll be on your own in terms of design, updates and customization. Templates make this process easier, but increase the risk that your site will look like an open source site or, even worse, exactly like a competitor's who used the same template!
Proprietary content management systems act as a holistic platform that provides you with an easy to use system customized for your site. You'll be able to leave it to an expert to do all the setup, bug fixes, troubleshooting, design, layout and customization for you.
Don't miss the next installment in our series where we'll be addressing how to find the best CMS to fit your business. Why not make it easy for yourself - click our RSS feed to subscribe!
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