Bespoke CMS vs WordPress: Should you use a Bespoke CMS or WordPress for your website? A few years ago, to build a website, people would invest thousands of dollars and the end result was most likely a bespoke CMS made by the hired supplier. Today, WordPress makes our life easier while also avoiding a set of problems we don’t ever want to experience again.

What is a bespoke CMS?

To understand what a bespoke CMS really means imagine you want to install in your kitchen a new set of cabinets. You have a kitchen with standard market measures but instead of going to a specialized store where this type of cabinet is already produced, packaged and ready to buy you decide to create a custom set made from the entire wood plates and then proceed to cut them in a meticulous and time-consuming job, thus raising the total cost of the project and the time spent. That is what happens when websites are based on a bespoke CMS.

This causes all sorts of problems, ranging from the sometimes poor code quality to security and performance flaws. But perhaps the biggest problem is that a bespoke CMS results in vendor lock-in, i.e. customers becoming highly dependent on the supplier. The website is so-called proprietary and often includes licensing costs or a monthly fee for use.

When it is necessary to change something on the website the client has to get in touch and if the company is not available or charges too high, the client has to adapt or give up.

Worse yet, if the supplier goes bankrupt and closes, which happens more frequently than we would like to admit, it becomes a huge problem. Nobody knows what to do.

computer with code showing the complexity of coding

What also happens is that since technology is always evolving, sometimes within a year, a bespoke CMS may become obsolete. It will no longer be using the latest best practices or technology and thus not being aligned with current user expectations. For example, in the last couple of years, we’ve seen websites that don’t have a mobile responsive design becoming obsolete. The same happened when Google introduced priority on its ranking algorithm to websites that implement SSL/HTTPS or when page load speed become a ranking signal . A more recent example is that websites should implement Google AMP technology. As expectations for such requirements are always on the rise if websites aren’t maintained and remodelled they will quickly become outdated.

However if the client wants to remodel the website he has a problem because the investment is again very high and other companies will refuse to take on what the previous supplier has done for the fear of the effort involved in understanding the code done by the other programmers.

So what new suppliers recommend to clients is always to make a new website. And the process is repeated. In the past many customers did not accept this (of course) and opted for leaving their sites without updating for years in a row, damaging their brand image and reducing the efficiency of their marketing. Companies that decided to invest again after some time were again in the same situation leading to very high costs and high waste.

Where WordPress makes all the difference vs a Bespoke CMS

Nowadays with WordPress the situation is quite different. Although it makes sense to use a custom design for your brand, the website should be built using WordPress, because it allows you to leverage a lot of already existing functionality that you don’t need to be paying developers to implement.

On the other hand if the relationship with the supplier is no longer working for any reason, then the client can simply go to the market because there are quite a few people and companies already working with WordPress.

In relation to updating the website content, the customer’s life is also easier because he has an administration area (called the backoffice or admin) where he can go and update the contents on his own without having to go through the supplier, and also without additional costs.

When it becomes necessary to remodel or update the site it is no longer a problem, it is just a matter of implementing and changing the used WordPress theme on the site, something that many agencies and freelancers can do. This allows to change the visual design of the website but keep existing functionality and content.

By using a WordPress agency you can create a premium custom theme for your brand at a fair price.

In addition to this, you will benefit from WordPress updates, that often include performance improvements, security fixes, and implementation of new features.

WordPress is also supported by a world community which is very active. Estimates are that approximately 31% of websites on the Internet are on WordPress. There are thousands of designers, programmers and enthusiasts out there to help if you run into any questions. Help is just a Google search away.

Last but not least, you will have access to a number of plugins (small features to extend the site) that are developed by other companies and freelancers worldwide.

Programmer at the desk with programming languages

Plugins allow you to extend the functionality of the WordPress site even if you do not know how to code. There are more than 55,000 plugins available that help the client extend their website with all kinds of functionality such as social media sharing buttons, SEO optimization tips, photo galleries and more.

Also very important is that when using WordPress you are helping support an open-source project whose purpose is to promote a more “open” Web.

When shouldn’t you use WordPress for a website?

Are there any scenarios where WordPress may not be the best fit? Yes. The truth is that there are cases where its use is not justified and where we should probably resort to another solution. What cases are this? Any business Web application that needs to ensure the integrity and consistency of the data at the database layer (through a rigid data model) is probably not the most appropriate use of WordPress. It’s not that you cannot do this type of development on WordPress but the fact that you need to ensure database integrity and consistency will make you quickly start to lose the benefit of using WordPress (which has a standard data structure where you can fit and adapt different use cases).

In summary, when should you use WordPress?

For most websites, whether institutional, personal and online stores, where it is about publishing and managing content, WordPress fits perfectly and will allow the customer to enjoy the various advantages, namely:

  1. autonomy with regards to the hired supplier;
  2. autonomy with regards to the content management;
  3. ease of remodelling / changing the visual design / implementation of new functionalities;
  4. fair investment;
  5. development by an active contributing global community.

There is an added advantage that is very important. Google loves websites in WordPress. If your site is updated frequently and your content is well-structured (which almost by default is easy to do), a WordPress site can earn a good ranking on Google faster than comparing with other solutions.

Hope this article helped explaining why you should use WordPress rather than a bespoke CMS. Don’t fall into the same mistakes people were doing 10 years ago. We’re passed the old age. CMS based websites are here to stay and offer a range of advantages that clearly benefit clients and companies from all sizes.

Every business must rethink their online presence, making it more dynamic, more social and mobile in order to capture the attention as well as the spending in this current crowded market. We don’t have all the answers, but we have a lot of experience working with businesses and a lot of advice to give on how to level up your website. If you are interested in seeing how you can improve, drop us a line and we’ll follow up.