When dealing with a larger volume of web content, an organisation might consider the use of a CMS for their website.  A CMS (Content Management System) is a piece of software that simplifies the creation, storage and publication processes of HTML files (i.e. content) – for instance, by allowing the user to input simple text or graphic files rather than code.  This creates a user-friendly system which allows even the less technically-minded members of a company to contribute to web content quickly and easily, and without delay.

Upon deciding to use a CMS, however, something that one will want to consider is whether to use a bespoke (i.e. specifically tailored) CMS, or a ready-made, “off-the-shelf” piece of software.  Here are three things to take into account in order to make the best choice for your business:

1. Compatibility

What are your business aims and objectives for the present and in the long-term?  The clearer you are about your specifications for a bespoke CMS, the better the end result will be.  Remember to take into consideration – not just where your company is now – but where you see your company several years from now; if you plan to expand, make sure the CMS will be adaptable to that.  Let your developer know exactly what you want.  Alternatively, however, if you don’t have a solid plan for your business, or you’re just starting out, you might be best spending less on a ready-made CMS, since most will be good enough to cater to your basic needs until you’re ready to have a bespoke system constructed.

2. Cost (time and financial)

The obvious one, of course, is how much your CMS will cost you.  When it comes to software, pragmatically speaking, the best choice is always bespoke, but your potential for ROI should always be your priority.  Whether your system is constructed by your internal IT team or by another specialist company, a custom CMS is going to cost you a lot of money, as well as time, and the more you expect of those who are constructing your CMS, the more it’s going to cost you.  On the other hand, off-the-shelf CMSs are generally much cheaper, or even free for download.  It’s definitely worth giving a free, open-source CMS a try to see if it works for you, before committing any funds towards a bespoke system.

3. Limitations

Of course, off-the-shelf software is limited by the very thing that it is – it’s a ready-made piece of software, and you get whatever it says that you get on the box.  However, bespoke also has its limitations in that its functionality depends entirely on what you specify to the development team, as well as the development team’s understanding of your instructions.  Going back to point 1; the clearer you are with your developers, the closer to your vision your CMS will be.

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