Open Source CMS and Custom Websites

open source cms

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Open Source CMS or Custom Website? What is the best choice for a startup founder?

Creating a website can seem like an insidious, expensive, and difficult obstacle to overcome. 

It is normal to think that you cannot build a website, blog, or e-commerce without experience, with a small budget, and in a short time.

In this article we will explain the advantages and disadvantages of Open Source CMS platforms and custom websites (or code websites), in order to lead you to the best choice based on your needs.

CMS and custom websites: what they are

Cms (Content Management System) are software installed on servers that have simplified the creation of web pages, replacing what until the early 2000s seemed the only possible method: the creation of websites written entirely in code. In other words, CMS helps users build a professional website, without having particular experience and without being programmers.

There are two types of CMS platforms:

  • Open Source CMS, are tools built and maintained by communities of developers who disseminate its source code in the public domain and therefore making it accessible to everyone. The most famous and used Open Source CMS is WordPress, followed by Joomla and Drupal.
  • Closed Source CMS or Proprietary CMS: these are CMS with closed source code. They are therefore not in the public domain but owned by the programmer or the agency that deals with the creation of the website.

By “custom websites”, instead, we mean the coded websites, created from scratch. The graphics, control panel, functionality, structure, and code are made ad hoc for us, following in detail our needs. 

To create a custom website, you need to have skills in markup language, which are programming languages used for web design and development, such as HTML, XML, CSS or Javascript. Don’t worry! We can rely on web deigner experts who, listening to our guidelines, will create our website for us.

Benefits of an Open Source CMS

Using an Open Source CMS to build your own website means facilitating your online business thanks to the different advantages that these systems offer:

  • Simplicity: with Open Source CMS, you don’t need to know HTML, CSS, and programming languages like ASP or PHP. In addition, these tools, have a very intuitive back end, thanks to which we can manage, build, and modify the contents of the website as we like.
  • Autonomy: thanks to the simplicity of use, these platforms, allow us to create a professional and effective website independently, without the need to require the help of a professional.
  • Limited budget: Open Source CMS are basically completely free and offer a large number of themes, plugins, and templates ready to use. The costs we can incur derive from services such as domain, hosting, the generation of Privacy and Cookie Policy and from the choice of premium versions of plugins and themes. 
  • Updates: Open Source CMS are continuously developing and improving. Updates are frequently released, both for the platform and for the plugins, to guarantee better functionalities and performances in line with web trends. 
  • Plugins and graphic themes: thanks to the plugins available for Open Source CMS, it is possible to enrich our website with many features and, thanks to the graphic themes, we will be able to set the layout of the pages, obtaining a professional and personalized result.
  • Times: by choosing an Open Source CMS we will build our website on a ready-made basis, drastically reducing the realization time.
  • Independence: these platforms, which have an open code, allow us to be free from ties with developers.
  • Dedicated community: choosing an Open Source CMS rather than a professional one doesn’t mean being alone. Behind these tools there are communities of experts who are constantly working to provide an efficient and reliable system and who help users to solve any problem that may occur.

Disadvantages of an Open Source CMS

The Open Source CMS, as we saw, have many pros in their favor, but it is right to evaluate the other side of the coin as well. Let’s analyze the cons:

  • Speed: the code of the CMS Open Source is prepared to implement all kinds of websites, for this reason it is heavier than custom websites.
  • Customization: all our changes must fall within the default features and plugins. This creates both a graphical and a functional design limit.
  • Uniqueness: having to follow pre-set guides, we will not be the only ones to have made a certain graphic choice.

Benefits of a Custom Website

By choosing the creation of a custom website we can give space to creativity and originality, obtaining a professional and effective result, artfully sewn on our project. This is possible thanks to the advantages that this solution offers:

  • Customization: by choosing a website in code, written from scratch, we will have the possibility to customize every detail, without graphic or functional limits.
  • Uniqueness: having no design constraints, we will be able to 100% reflect the image of our brand and company, obtaining a unique product.
  • Responsive: we can choose the graphic structure we prefer for each type of screen, achieving optimal results for pc, tablet and mobile. 
  • Code performance: since custom websites are built ad hoc for us, they offer a clean and optimized code, able to improve the browsing experience.
  • Speed: coded websites do not have to adapt to the needs of different customers and projects, thus being leaner and faster.
  • Security: only the developer of a coded website knows its “secrets”, so it is a very safe solution.
  • SEO: the developer to whom we entrust the realization of our website, can intervene on every detail of the code to obtain an excellent positioning on Google. 

Disadvantages of a Custom Website

As with CMS Open Source,let’s analyze together the disadvantages of custom websites:

  • Budget: especially for a startup founder, budget is a key element. Custom websites have high prices since they are tailor-made works, created from scratch and designed for us.
  • Time: as with costs, the timing is also high. The creation of a custom website, requires longer realization times than an Open Source CMS.
  • Autonomy: it is true that a website in code allows you to customize every aspect of your project, but let’s think about the future. Every time we have to make some changes, we will need the intervention of the web designer we have relied on or, alternatively, we will have to ask him to equip our website with a dedicated and personalized CMS, increasing costs again.


We have evaluated the pros and cons of two excellent solutions for the creation of a website. However, if you are a startup founder with a limited budget and no experience in programming and development, then the advice is to try to realize your project by relying on an Open Source CMS, thanks to which you can get a professional result, in a simple way, in a short time and with a small budget.

If you are interested in Website Creation, please read also: The best CMS tool for startups: WordPressCMS tools: the best 10 solutions for startups and Loading speed of websites: the best 10 plugins for WordPress

For more information read also the related white paper that you find on this page Digital Marketing for Startups