Here at PC-Limited, a Colorado Springs web developer, we offer two of the best and most powerful options for custom website development: an off the shelf CMS like Joomla, WordPress or Drupal; or a fully customized website using PHP and MySQL.
Given the relatively short history of the internet, the proliferation of web development tools and options can be mind-boggling.
What Is a CMS?
A Content Management System, keeps track of your website’s content and provides an easy-to-use interface for non-programmers to manage the content themselves without knowing HTML. Most are open source, and thus free. Open-source software can be accessed by developers and modified to fit their needs. WordPress and Joomla are used by clients ranging from individuals to multinational organizations, and are the most popular open-source CMSs in the world.
What are PHP and MySQL?
PHP, short for Hypertext Preprocessor, is a general-purpose scripting language. MySQL is a relational database. Together, they interact to produce dynamic sites of any size, shape, and purpose. These are the most widely used programming languages on the Internet today. Even Joomla, WordPress and most other CMS are based upon PHP and MySQL.
So which one is for you?
Pros of a CMS:
- Lower cost – Your site development project can take advantage of features that have been previously implemented and are available for free. These open source CMSs has thousands of extensions and plug-ins, most of which are free. This greatly reduces the number of billable hours required to get your website running. Also, many of the implementation decisions have already been made, so less of your own time needs to be spent on designing your site.
- Faster implementation – Because much of the functionality already exists, your site can be operational sooner. Why pay to “reinvent the wheel” if you don’t have to?
Cons of a CMS:
- Less freedom – Implementation decisions have already been made, so on occasion, you may find that the manner in which a feature is implemented is not what you had in mind. The task can still be accomplished, but it may require some flexibility on your part.
Pros of Custom Web Development Using PHP and MySQL
- More flexibility – A custom implementation does not limit you at all in terms of what can be implemented. You control to a greater extent the exact behavior of your site.
Cons of Custom Web Development Using PHP and MySQL
- Greater cost – The development of your site is less able to capitalize on previously developed features, so your budget must be sufficient to fund the cost of the site’s creation. It isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel, with just an additional layer removed from an off-the-shelf solution, but that increased customization comes with a larger price tag.
- Longer development cycles – Each step of the process takes longer, so all else being equal, expect more weeks to elapse before your site is operational with custom development.
- Greater customer involvement – To some, this may be a “pro,” but client involvement is a necessity when developing a custom solution. The client must make someone available for tasks such as reviewing process flow charts and making implementation decisions. Due to the increased development costs, getting it right the first time becomes paramount.
In our lives, we are constantly weighing the trade offs between increased customization and prepackaged solutions. Any group that has struggled to order a pizza to suit diverse tastes has observed how a made-to-order custom pizza can be more expensive and require more decisions than an all-inclusive supreme. However, if there are particular requirements concerning what must or must not be included from slice to slice, a custom order is the best choice.
For most customers, a site that is developed using an open source CMS will be the best option. However, for those with more exacting specifications willing to pay an increased price, a fully custom solution using PHP and MySQL may prove to be the best fit.
If you find you still have questions and would like to speak to a Colorado Springs web developer, we are more than happy to go over your project with you and help you make a decision.