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Choosing the right solution for your website is a critical starting point. Once you chose to go for a website builder, a pre-built or a custom built CMS solution, switching means starting back from scratch.

If you are about to build a new website for your activity, this article is for you.

Before we dig deeper into the topic, I would like to mention that our digital agency offer includes both pre-built and custom-built CMS options. We do not offer website builder options as far as we don’t bring any added value working on that. To be completely honest, we prefer to work on custom solutions in 80% of the cases, but we acknowledge that a pre-built option is sometimes a better fit to some projects. We therefore aim to provide an unbiased point of view in this article.

What is a CMS?

CMS is the acronym for Content Management System. A CMS is a web application allowing multiple users to edit the content of their website and manage their activity online from a user-friendly interface.

CMS are divided into 3 main categories: Website builders, pre-built CMS and custom CMS.

A website builder is a platform that enables users who don’t have any technical knowledge to create and publish a simple website quickly. They typically charge a monthly retainer for their services.

A pre-build CMS is a platform that enables users with some technical knowledge but no specific hard coding skills to create and publish a website.

A custom-build CMS is a platform crafted to your needs by a professional web programmer. Once the platform is built and the website published, you are able to manage the content of your website or web application on your own from a user friendly interface.

CMS: What are the criteria to consider when choosing the right one for my project?

Each solution has pros and cons. The objectives and the limitations of your project as well as the assets you devote to it will help to define the best solution for your activity.

Criteria

Website builder (Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, …)

Pre-built CMS (Wordpress, Prestashop, Drupal,…)

Custom CMS

Time to launch

Fast

Medium

Long

Short term budget

Low

Medium

High

Long term budget

Medium

Medium

Low

Flexibility

Low

Medium

High

Scalability

Low

Medium

High

Performance (speed)

Medium

Slow

Fast

SEO (search engine optimization)

Low

Medium

High

Security

High

Low

High

Access to API

Low

Moderate (using plug-ins)

Full

Ease of use

Moderate

Low

High

Lifetime

Short

Medium

Infinite

User experience

Minimum

Average

Great

Autonomy

High

Moderate

Low

CMS: Which is the best one for my business?

Website builder:

Type of website: One-page business website without specific functionalities.

Type of business: Young start ups, freelancers, small companies that don’t rely on search for customer acquisition.

Pre-built CMS:

Type of website: News/blogging website, simple e-commerce website with limited number of products, business website

Type of business: SMEs, e-commerce start-ups, influencers.

Custom-built CMS:

Type of website: Large e-commerce websites, web application, business websites with functionalities

Type of business: Web dependent businesses, SaaS, fast growing businesses.

CMS: Does every business need one? 

In a client perspective, it may feel reassuring to have a website where every single piece of content can be self-edited anytime from a CMS.

In reality, most of websites owners regularly update only a few specific sections of their website.

Therefore, defining which section of your website must be dynamic and which section can be static, is a step prior to choosing the CMS to use.

For example, news articles or product pages sections of a website must be dynamic. Products or articles will likely be added on a regular basis.

On the contrary, does an about us, a contact us, a terms & conditions page need to be updated regularly? They probably don’t.

Therefore, requiring as a client to be able to edit absolutely everything on the website from a CMS adds a layer of complexity to a project for a setup that is often not really needed. It also narrows down the array of technologies the developer can choose from.

For example, if you need a business website that features product pages and blog pages and that you wish to be able to edit absolutely everything on the website, then, budget wise, a Wordpress CMS is probably the most efficient solution.

If you need the same website but agree to be able to self-edit only dynamic sections of it (product pages, blog pages), then, budget wise, a custom-built CMS will be more cost efficient. As a result, you’ll get a website that is scalable and performs better than a Wordpress.

If in the future you need to modify the content of pages that are not editable through the CMS, you can always ask a web developer to do it for you. Updating content shouldn’t be expensive as far as the design and the structure of the page remains unchanged.

For example, at Pineapple Web agency, we charge an hour of work NTD1000. Updating the texts and the visuals or videos of an about us page shouldn’t take more than 2 hours including everything.

All that to say that with a custom built set up, you will probably end-up paying only a few 1000s NTD per year for updates that you can’t do yourself from the CMS. The updates will be performed with proper coding and responsiveness and cross browser compatibility will be tested.

 

Conclusion

Choosing a CMS for your website can be compared to finding a place to live in.

Going for a website builder is like renting an apartment. It’s the immediate cheapest option but you have to take it as it is and you may have to move out when it becomes too small for your family or when you can’t pay the rent anymore.

Going for a pre-built CMS is like buying a house. You must adapt to the way it was built even if you may extend or renew some parts of it.

Going for a custom made CMS is like buying a land and building your own house on it. You get a forever home tailored to your tastes and needs.

When choosing a CMS for your website, you need:

> To define your maximum budget

> To list down pages of your website you absolutely need to be able to manage yourself.

> To foresee future developments of your website required with your business growth.

 

Ultimately, if you reach a web programming agency with that information, the agency should be able to guide you through the maze!