One trend we have noticed of late, is a mass exodus of businesses from custom CMS’s to open source options. Particularly WordPress.
The Issues With Custom CMS’s
From within our own prospect list, and those of partner agencies, we’re witnessing a great deal of frustration from businesses with sites built on custom CMS’s.
These were sold to them as the answer to all of their problems, designed purely for their industry, and so on, but instead are clunky, heavily rigid, and involve parting with a great deal of money and time just to make small changes.
Many were built with no thought for SEO, or any marketing.
Just yesterday I was talking to an SEO friend, who has a client in the automotive industry. This client was sold a custom CMS, apparently created specifically for their industry.
They hired my friend’s SEO agency, but none of the recommendations, or technical and content changes from this agency are being implemented, because the client has no control over their own site, no external development team can access it, and the development agency want to charge for even minor changes. When they are challenged on this they go radio silent.
This poor company spent a lot of money on their website, and now to escape this situation, will have to pay out all over again for a new site.
More Common Than Ever
This is far from the first time I’ve witnessed this situation. It is becoming all too common. I’ve seen it in the property industry, retail, kitchen and bathroom design, financial and many others.
It seems that custom CMS’s are being mis-sold, or deliberately being used to trap businesses into being reliant on the developer.
Now I know this isn’t the case for every custom CMS, and there are plenty of good solutions out there with reputable developers, but unfortunately there are also the bad.
Things To Ask If You’re Considering A Custom CMS
If you’re considering a custom CMS for your business, make sure you have a very good understanding of what you will be getting for your investment. Weigh up the pros and cons, and be sure to investigate the other options available to you.
Here are a few things to ask a custom CMS developer before signing on the dotted line.
How much control will you have?
From creating new pages, adding new sections as you grow, making simple changes to meta titles and descriptions, creating redirects, adding and managing images, editing forms.
All of these are fairly basic things that you should be able to access and do on your own website. Get these confirmed in writing.
Can you move to another host, or support company?
Or are you completely tied to this company, even if your relationship should sour? Who owns what?
What ongoing costs can you expect for the platform, support and exactly what changes will be chargeable.
Has SEO been taken into consideration in the creation of the CMS?
Is it easy to optimise the site. Can you easily edit metas, content, and add redirects? Will you have easy access to sitemaps and robots.txt and so on.
Lifespan and support
Will they continue to support and patch their CMS for security and functionality on an ongoing, long term basis?
What happens if the company goes bust?
Will that be it for your website, or will you be able to move it to another host, and support company?
Will they manage performance optimisation?
Expectations for website speeds and browser compatibility are constantly changing. Will the developer perform optimisation to keep your site fast and functional?
Could a custom WordPress solution be a better option?