What are some of the hidden costs behind free Content Management Solution platforms? Read on to find out the pros and cons for your business should you want to choose a free CMS.
By the myBusiness techblog team
We briefly touched on some key CMS features you should look out for in our SMEs go Online series’ last article. Now, let us consider the use of free / open source Content Management Systems (CMS).
Open source CMSes means that the source code of the project is free to download, change, and use. Often developers will make their product open source and allow other developers to use and improve on their design. These improvements can then be incorporated into future versions of the CMS. Choosing a free CMS should seem like a great boon, but once the costs of training, customisation, support and ensuring integration with other tools are taken into consideration, the “free” CMS might turn out to be quite costly. Here are some things to consider:
1. Complexity of usage
Free CMS tools like Drupal are complex and difficult for non-web developers to use and involve a significant investment in time to understand how it works. Even WordPress can take a considerable amount time and effort to master. Your time is valuable, so be sure to factor in the cost of learning to code the CMS in your decision.
2. Added functionality for your website
Free CMS platforms often don’t offer extended web marketing functionalities like customer relationship management (CRM) or email marketing, or might be difficult to integrate. Many free CMS tools also rely on third-party applications or plugins to extend their functionality, for example, to create interactive forms. These external applications can vary widely in quality and reliability, and might stop working altogether when a new version of the free CMS is released
3. Website hosting
When you choose a free CMS platform, you have to make your own website hosting arrangements. If the web host ever decides to drop support for that platform, you run the risk of being “stranded” with a website that can’t be updated, or forced into a challenging and costly migration to another host. What’s more, some webhosts only provide support for their hosting services, and not for the CMS platform. You can set up a CMS yourself, but that would involve understand the systems that support it and the setting up process – an undertaking that’s not for everyone.
4. Technical support or documentation
Support for free tools is often limited to finding solutions on technical discussion forums. Obtaining answers to specific questions can take a lot of searching or require extra costs in hiring a consultant. Also, new customizations or features might not be well supported, and hiring an independent developer to repair or implement these features that are not part of the standard application might make them break easily when the core CMS software is upgraded.
The argument between paid and open source CMS
CMS are usually classified into proprietary (paid) CMS and open source (free) CMS. There are pros and cons between both types of CMS, such as:
|Benefits of an Open Source CMS||Drawbacks of an Open Source CMS|
|Benefits of a Proprietary CMS||Drawbacks of a Proprietary CMS|
Let’s be fair, sometimes free is perfectly ok. You can find helpful free online tools and utilities to automate tasks or make things more efficient. However, your website is the main or a big part of the core of your web marketing efforts. Free content management system (CMS) tools might seem attractive at first glance, but for something as strategic and vital as your business online presence, you should consider carefully the risks and potential drawbacks carefully before relying on a “free” platform.
Ever used a free or paid CMS for your business? Do you have any comments or feedback for any of these types of solutions? Let us know in the comment box below.
Build your website easily with SingTel Web Builder. See how it works! Sign up today for SingTel eVolve business fibre broadband plan and get Web Builder for Free!
You are reading one of the articles in our series on how SMEs can make use of Content Management Systems to simplify management of their business websites. Here’s a list of the other articles in the series.
- SMEs go online: Introduction to website building (3 Aug)
- SMEs go online: Comparing Content Management Systems (7 Aug)
- SMEs go online: Key CMS features to look out for (28 Aug)
- SMEs go online: The real cost of free Content Management Systems (29 Aug)
- SMEs go online: Top mistakes to avoid when choosing a CMS (30 Aug)
- SMEs go online: 9 great websites running on popular CMS platforms (4 Sep)