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What are differences between a custom CMS and a template CMS like WordPress

By Editorial Team on 2018-04-04

Majority (like 70%) of websites in the world is currently hosted by one of the following Content Management Systems or CMS: WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal. They are a form of drag and drop tools for building websites. This article focuses on differences between custom CMS platforms and WordPress templates.

Without a doubt, WordPress is the most popular platform for making and hosting websites. It uses PHP, MySQL (along with Apache and Linux server) for back-end and HTML, CSS, and JS for front-end. WordPress has strong developer community. Most of people who design websites on WordPress has no coding knowledge as they rely on its drag and drop features to build their and maintain their sites. Indeed, I have met many WordPress web designers who even do not know how to code in HTML. The popularity of WordPress stems from its free template (pre-made) sites that are often loaded with essential features and plug-ins that any website needs like contact us form. In other words, you can build a brand new website with WordPress in an hour without any knowledge of coding.

Popular Content Management Systems
Most people are familiar with the popular Content Management System (CMS) such as Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla and the likes. More than any other piece of software available out there today, WordPress is one of the tools we hear about most often. According to a 2015 survey, WordPress powers over 60% of the world’s websites. In this Article, we will further discuss the difference between Custom CMS and Template CMS (also known as Open Source CMS).

Custom CMS or Template CMS
In choosing from a Custom CMS or a Template CMS like Wordpress and the likes is one of the most important decisions a business, organization or Brand can make as regards to their website. Content management systems are not one-size-fits-all technologies, and there is no "right" answer when selecting a custom or open source platform. To determine the best option for your business, first, you must understand what each CMS alternative has to offer, and what your team needs from a CMS solution.

In Template CMS, such as Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, or Magento! the platform’s code is publicly available and editable. Open source solutions can be redistributed, copied and modified for a number of applications. These systems are frequently updated by the broader online community, which can freely patch glitches in the software and add new features. Template CMS like Wordpress provides infinite possibilities for adding new layers of functionality, but when it comes to making these changes it requires a high level of development expertise that some businesses don’t have in-house. When choosing a CMS, it’s important to honestly evaluate whether or not your company has the resources to make the most of an open source platform.

Typically the cost to get started is lower with open source, but things tend to even out after your first few updates (core CMS as well as content plug-ins). They are essentially free but you still have to pay someone to set it up for you. Although most people who design websites on WordPress has no coding knowledge as there’s a wide variety of templates with drag and drop features to build and maintain their sites. Consider this though, an open source CMS, plus plugins, plus modifications to the code, plus the cost of maintenance(updates) and fixes can potentially end up costing you quite a bit over time too.

Pros of Using Custom CMS
A custom CMS is a proprietary solution that’s created exclusively for one company or use case. With a custom CMS, your business (or the service firm that built it) has control over the platform’s functionality, interface, and updates. Custom CMS can be built using the same tools that power the popular systems such as WordPress, Drupal and the likes. The only difference is that the software will be 100% customized for your usage, not pieced together to get close to what you need. With custom CMS solutions, the system’s workflow, design, and usability can be tailored to any business or department’s specific needs.

Companies who need a custom designed CMS website rely on their internal or external experienced developers and designers to build custom secure and very scalable CMS applications that by far outperform a normal WordPress site. Building a custom CMS from scratch allows developers to incorporate business insights and goals into application. Indeed, a custom CMS comes with lots of flexibility for changes in the future. Custom CMS provides security concerns or corporate security requirements that would make off-the-shelf platforms unacceptable.

Programming Languages and Resources for CMS Developers
Note, those custom CMS platforms are not using any unknown technology! They will use the same languages in use by millions of other sites. They just won't use bloated, inefficient software as the basis for their work. HTML, CSS (or HTML5 & CSS3) PHP, MySQL, JavaScript (or JS frameworks like jQuery, Angular, React, Node, or Express) or MongoDB, Apache, Ruby on Rails, and Linux can all be used just like any other platform. Also, obtaining the following PHP and database certifications are highly rewarding for all custom CMS developers: Zend Framework 2 ,Zend Certified PHP Engineer, Oracle Database 11g Administration and Oracle Database 12c SQL Fundamentals. For those interested in learning more about CMS web design and development, here are a list of step-by-step training guide articles: i- Become CMS specialist, ii- Become front-end specialist, iii- Become expert SQL developer, iv- Become expert PHP developer

However, if the existing software is exactly what you want and you are permitted to make changes then adding on to the software can be the best way to go. Other times you will discover that your needs far exceed any generic solution that is offered by existing software. These are the times when you will turn to a custom solution.

CMS coding is well suited for those interested in pursuing a career in web design and development; however, other options are mobile App design and development, system admin and software engineering. It is advisable to consult with an IT career counselor to understand what career options best fits your skills. For instance, if you want to be a software engineer, learning HTML and CSS might not fit the bill. Here is an excellent article for learning more on coding and technology career roadmap. Once you know what career path you wish to pursue, you can make a plan on what, when, and how to learn. There are lots of online resources for learning coding and technology in general. For teenagers and high school students, High School Technology Services offers variety of hands-on training. For adults and professionals, Coding Bootcamps and DC Web Makers Companies offer basic to advance project-based programming and technology classes.

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