Are you looking for a new website for your business or thinking about a design refresh?

Do you know which is the best build and management option for your needs?

Website_CMSHere are the pros and cons of the 3 options depending on (1) the time you have available, (2) Your technical knowledge, (3) Your budget and (4) how you want to manage your site in future.

The 3 options are:
  • Website builders.
  • Open source website builders.
  • Bespoke build.
To help you make an informed choice, let’s go through the details with the pros and cons of each.

Website builders
Website builders such as SiteBuilder, Wix and SquareSpace provide a platform to enable you to build and manage your own website. They are suitable if you have the time to spend choosing from the many website builder systems on the market, learning how to use the interface and then building your website using their system.

Pros
  1. You can build and edit the website yourself.
  2. You must choose from the design templates available.
  3. Most provide one free domain name and one email account.
  4. Website hosting is usually included in the monthly cost.
  5. Cheap option.
Cons
  1. It can take a lot of time to learn the system and manage everything yourself.
  2. Design is limited to the design templates available and they will look like a lot of other sites.
  3. Technical skills may be needed to do more complex designs and page layouts.
  4. You may have to compromise on quality, depending on your technical skills.
  5. Limited functionality available in the system; this may not meet your future needs.
  6. Not always suitably optimised for viewing on mobile phones.
  7. Not fully optimised for search engines (SEO).
Choose if you have plenty of time, are not too concerned about the quality and are working with a small budget. This may be your first website when starting up a new business.

Open source website builders
The most popular open source website builders are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.

Similar to website builders, these content management systems (CMS) are more flexible than simple website builders and allow you to add a range of “plugins” for example, photo gallery, document library or booking system etc.

You will need to register a domain name, host the website on a server and build your website in the system. If you have the necessary skills you can do this yourself but generally, you will need the support of a developer to get your website up and running and hosted on a server. Future changes can then be made by you, using the CMS.

Pros
  1. Design templates are available for you to choose from.
  2. Your developer is on hand to support you if you need more complex changes and updates within the template.
  3. Multiple functionality plugins are available.
  4. Easy to move your website to another developer.
  5. SEO plugin available.
  6. Responsive mobile optimisation.
Cons
  1. You will probably need a developer to build the site unless you have the necessary skills.
  2. Design is limited to the design templates available and will not be unique.
  3. Security. The CMS is known to hackers so constant up dates are required which can sometimes affect the website. Plugins are even more vulnerable to attack.
  4. Plugins are created by different developers and may not be compatible with your website. This can cause problems as the site is being built and in the future.
  5. Your developer may not always keep on top of updates and may charge you if anything breaks as a result of an update.
Choose if you don’t need a unique looking website design and you are confident that your developer will keep the security updated and fix any ensuing problems; check the ongoing cost for doing this.

Bespoke build
Discuss your requirements with a web development agency, they take your brief, think about what is needed and produce a unique design and website functionality that meets the exact needs of your business.

They probably use their own CMS and will be able to include any functionality you need such as photo gallery, document library or booking system etc.

Pros
  1. You get a professional looking, unique website from your web agency.
  2. Support and advice is available.
  3. Tried and tested CMS which is intuitive and user friendly.
  4. Secure and stable platform because code is unknown to hackers.
  5. Because the CMS is developed in-house, any additional requirements can be met at the build stage or in the future.
  6. Built to be SEO ready as standard.
  7. Responsive or adaptive mobile optimisation.
Cons
  1. Not a DIY option.
  2. May not be the cheapest option.
  3. More difficult to move to a new provider, though not impossible.
Choose if you value your time and would rather be working on sales than your website. You want to stand out from your competitors and get the maximum conversions from your website.

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail before you decide which option is best for you, please call us.

We will provide a free unbiased opinion, even if the best option for you is the DIY route.

 
content-management_systems-advantagesA Content Management System (CMS) is a computer program that will allow a user with no web development or coding skills to make changes to the content on their website pages.

There are hundreds of off-the-shelf open source systems such as Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla, to name but a few of the more popular CMS, which can be used to make changes to the pages of a website. Alternatively, website developers may decide to build their own bespoke system.

Advantages of a bespoke CMS
Building a bespoke system gives a web developer flexibility and control over their website build and future development for their customers. Because they have written and understand their own code, they are able to include additional functionality far more quickly than trying to add a feature that is not included in the off-the-shelf version. For example, if a client wants to add a testimonials page to their website with some of the testimonials appearing and rotating on the home page. With an off-the-shelf CMS, the web developer will not always know how the code works and it will be a lot harder to add something that is not already included in the original system.

The other problem with open source software, which is often free, is that it is continually under development. This can result in it being prone to bugs and security issues that need constant attention. A site running Joomla, for example, needs to be updated regularly. The website manager must ensure that it is patched up to the latest version at all times, including any third party plug-in's or modules they may have installed. Failure to do so could compromise their site. Joomla is a very popular web application and it is probably one of the most hacked PHP applications on the web. See http://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/TA13-024A

A well designed CMS that is easy to use and hosted on a secure server is recommended for all serious business websites.

Crystal Thought CMS
We decided from day one to build our own CMS and we are regularly monitoring and improving the usability and security of the system.

Our bespoke CMS has been developed and improved over a number of years in collaboration with our clients and provides a system that will allow easy up-dating and changing of web page content and layout.

To find out more about our CMS visit Crystalthoughtcontent-management-system

Mark Langston

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