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Open Source, the Second Coming?

"Yeah, Open Source is Free!"

Sorry, not true.  

"Yeah, Open Source is Easy!"

Um no, not really.

"Yeah, Open Source is the Best!"

Not always.

About two years ago, a huge marketing buzz hit the tech space.  Open Source was here, and everyone was going to have free websites and great tools to manage them.  Unfortunately, much like most mass marketing frenzies, it was based on half-truths.  You see, Open Source products can be downloaded for free, but unless you have sat behind a computer for the last five years coding .PHP, you can’t do anything with it.  It is like someone giving you a book on how to cure cancer, yet you have never taken a biology or chemistry course.  

Open Source tools are great if you have an IT department that can integrate, customize, and support them.  Otherwise, it’s just another piece of expensive software with a big catch.  Nobody can guarantee it will work properly.  Sure, there is a huge community of programmers working on improving and enhancing it’s out of the box capabilities, but that community isn’t made up of do-gooders looking to work pro-bono for your organization.  It is a community of software engineers charging $175 an hour and high school hacks who promise you the world.

We aren’t saying that Open Source isn’t a great solution for some companies.  We are simply saying it is not less expensive than most proprietary systems that are fully supported and guaranteed to work bug free.

So now what?

 The first thing you need to do when choosing the right content management software for your company is to demo it.  You’ll be surprised at how cumbersome many open source software systems are.  Open Source CMS software is built by programmers, and programmers don’t care much about usability for everyday computer users.  

Let’s get back to demonstrating the software.  Make sure you demo a few different systems.  You’ll probably have a favorite.  Most likely one system will stand out as a front runner to best accommodate your content management needs.  Hopefully you find one that accommodates your content types, skill sets of your employees, and budget.

Once you have demonstrated a few options, learn more about what it is going to take to support the software.  Are there licensing fees?  Do you need to customize it to fit your needs?  Is it written in a well supported programming language?  Is the software provider reputable and mature? 

Finally, don’t disregard proprietary systems.  Talk with the companies that built them and find out the ins and outs of the licensing agreements.  Do they provide upgrades?  Can you buy a copy of the source code?  Can you use the software if you decide to stop working with the provider?

Do your homework on the CMS systems out there before you take the advice of the dudes in your IT department, there is a good chance they don’t know what they are talking about.  Definitely don’t take the advice of your CEO’s nephew.  He’ll have your money spent by the time you sign the contract, and next time you see him, he’ll be on a new skate board, wearing his hat sideways, and sporting a new iPhone.

DC Web Designers support six different Content Management Systems (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, SmartSite, Sitefinity, and LightCMS). Three are Open Source and three are proprietary.  We’ll take you through the features and benefits of each system, and let you decide the best system for your company.  We’ll provide unbiased recommendations for you and your organization to make certain the right system is used for your next generation website.

Call us at 410-740-9181 to learn more about the CMS systems we support, and set up some time to demonstrate the ones that are good candidates to fill your content management needs.


You can tell a lot about a company by who hires them.

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