Which CMS? Custom vs Pre-Built

Content Management Systems (CMS) are a wonderful creation that has made building and customizing your own website extremely easy, even for the technologically challenged. Many businesses opt for a CMS as it allows them to easily control the content of their website. But deciding that a CMS is the right way to go about creating an online presence is only the first step.

CMS’s can either built from the ground up, or come in a pre-packaged solution. Which CMS is right for you, will be determined by what you want the finished site to do, who the end users are, and of course, your financial constraints. Confused about the whole thing? Don’t worry, it’s normal to get bogged down in the technicalities of building a website. To help you come up with the perfect solution, here are our top considerations when considering which CMS.


Required Functions

Having clarity over the purpose of your website is the main determining factor in deciding which option is right for you or your business. Is your site there to simply to act as your internet business card, or are there complex web based applications that are essential to visitors of your site? Create a list of all the must have features and a separate list for those that would be nice to have.

If you can get a ready-made CMS that has 90% of your critical features, then is it necessary to go through the rigmarole of creating something from scratch? In this case, consider hiring a programmer that specializes in CMS. If a standard template almost gets you to your ideal solution, then some hired help may be able to tack on those extra features to make the site a success.


What’s your budget?

Once you know the required functions of your site, you’ll be able to determine if a pre-built or custom solution is right for you. However, the functionalities of your sight may not be the only governing factor and the price of building a custom CMS will swing the odds in favor of a packaged solution for many.

However, it comes back to what your ideal solution is. Starting out with a less than perfect template or hiring a programmer to tweak a pre-built CMS may be the cheaper solution in the beginning. But if your site doesn’t perform as expected, or you later have to pay for a full re-design, your penny-pinching efforts will have been in vain. This is why it is vitally important to know the end goal before you start putting together a plan for your CMS.


Who’s Using the CMS?

You should also give consideration to the computer literacy of the end users and how many people will be using the platform. If you operate in a busy business where training and changes to an existing system could be difficult to implement, then it may be worth going with a more expensive custom built solution.

Something that is built specifically for your business will result in less down time required for training and dealing with complications using the system. For large organizations, it makes sense to mold the CMS around existing operations instead of getting an entire workforce to uptake completely new software and terminology.


Time till Launch

How long a period do you have until the new site must be up and running? If you are creating a brand new site, then you may have all the time in the world. Unless of course you site is intertwined with a product launch date or some other strict deadline. Obviously custom built solutions take much longer, as you will be required to meet with developers to discuss ideas and progress through several drafts of the site.



When you’re involved in the design of something that is brand new, you may not be considering future tweaks to appearance or having to update the code. However, if you want to add new functions to a custom CMS, then you’ll be forced to either learn programming, or re-visit your web developer which could prove to be costly.

On the other hand, if you decide on a pre-built CMS, updates are usually free and there will be automatic reminders alerting you to when they are required.


What’s Best For Me?

There is no one size fits all when it comes down to CMS, hence the thousands of WordPress themes readily available. In the end, it comes down to what the most important features are for your site; appearance, usability, performance, user interface and available design time should all be weighed up to arrive at the perfect solution.