Speckyboy RSS: Proprietary vs. Open-Source: How to Choose the Right CMS

Your latest Speckyboy content is here!.

Speckyboy Design Magazine

Design News, Resources & Inspiration

Proprietary vs. Open-Source: How to Choose the Right CMS


By Eric Karkovack on Apr 28, 2021 07:04 am


There are a ton of content management system (CMS) options out there. And if you’re looking to find the perfect fit your website project, the search can be exhausting. Particularly if you don’t have a lot of experience with these systems.

But before you even choose a specific app, there’s another factor that needs to be considered. One that will have a major impact on your project in both the immediate and long term. Is the CMS you’re considering open-source or proprietary?

All too often, neither web designers nor website owners are fully aware of the differences. It’s only after they run into a roadblock that they realize the consequences of their choice. By then, it could be too late and too expensive to switch.

Today, we’ll fill you in on the differences between these two types of systems. The goal is to help you get the information you need to make the right choice from the very start.

Definitions

Before we get too far into the weeds, let’s attempt to define what open-source and proprietary software are.

It may sound complex, but what we’re really talking about is how a piece of software is licensed. This is important because licensing determines what you can and can’t do with a particular app. Also, there could be an impact when it comes to things like content ownership, web hosting, and the ability to add additional functionality.

With that, here’s a quick (non-exhaustive) guide to each license type:

Open-Source

An open-source license grants its users access to the underlying source code of an application. This means you can typically change or extend its code to suit your needs and even redistribute it if you want. There may be rules that require you to credit the original developers, but you can feel free to add your own flavor wherever you like.

WordPress is perhaps the best-known example of an open-source CMS. You are free to hack away at the source code, create themes/plugins or even fork the software (as ClassicPress did).

One thing to note is that open-source doesn’t always mean the software is free. Think of buying a commercial WordPress theme, for example. You purchase the theme and then have the ability to customize its code. Whether that’s the right path for your project is another subject – but the option is there.

A sign that reads: "Open".

Proprietary

On the other hand, proprietary software enables the vendor (owner) to exercise exclusive rights. In practice, this means that the app’s owner can restrict its usage however they see fit. A user likely couldn’t, for example, directly modify the source code. However, they may still be able to create add-ons that enhance the software. User rights can vary greatly depending upon the particular vendor.

There is any number of other terms a user might have to agree to. With regards to a CMS, that could mean agreeing to host your website only with a particular provider or utilizing plugins from a vendor-approved marketplace.

Notable examples of proprietary CMS include Squarespace and Wix.

A sign that reads: "Closed".

Pros, Cons, and Considerations for CMS Licensing

Both open-source and proprietary CMS applications have their strengths and weaknesses. Thus, some projects are a better fit for one licensing structure over the other. Then there are also plenty of differences within specific apps in each category.

But generally speaking, some major factors are endemic to the licensing structure itself. Let’s look at some areas where open-source and proprietary apps typically differ the most:

Data Portability

The ability to move your data from one CMS to another – or even one web host to another – is a pretty big deal. A license that doesn’t allow you to do this can be problematic for some. What happens if you no longer want to use that system?

This is where you need to read the licensing agreement carefully. A vendor is under no obligation to help you export your site’s design, content, and media files. Proprietary software may even disallow some or all of this completely.

Open-source software will likely offer a way to export at least some of this data. Even if it’s not built directly into the CMS, a third-party tool might also be utilized for this purpose.

If you want to move to a different system, don’t expect much leeway when it comes to design. Since themes are often tied to a particular CMS, moving between systems is not a straightforward process – regardless of licensing.

A person running with a suitcase in hand.

Web Hosting

Many proprietary CMS applications are based on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. That means the software is only licensed to run on a single web host. If you want to use the CMS, you’ll have to do so within that centralized hosting environment.

Along with the aforementioned data portability, open-source systems can usually be hosted just about anywhere. There may be some minimum server requirements (MySQL, a specific version of PHP, etc.) but your site’s files can be moved again and again.

Maintenance Updates

Every actively developed CMS will require some form of maintenance. Bugs need to be fixed and security tightened. And there is always room for new features and UI enhancements.

Licensing can often tell you a bit about how system maintenance works.

With open-source software, website owners are generally responsible for applying updates – although strides have been made in automation. Typically, you have the choice to decide when or whether to upgrade (or automate). Some managed web hosts also provide this service.

Proprietary systems often differ in that they may not offer you a choice in the matter. Some updates may be applied in the background. In other cases, a vendor might allow you to defer an update for a specified period of time.

Tools sit on a table.

Customization

The final area we’ll look at is the ability to customize a website’s look and functionality. The CMS licensing structure often impacts what you can and can’t do here as well.

Proprietary systems can run the gamut. Some will allow the use of custom themes and/or plugins, while others are much more closed off. Also, the availability of an official or third-party marketplace could mean more opportunities to tweak a website to meet your needs. But this all depends on the vendor.

Meanwhile, open-source systems generally allow for complete customization. You can build your own themes or plugins. You can also source these items from third parties. The back end of the software is also fair game for tweaking. There are no hard limits as to what’s allowed.

Finding the CMS That Works for You

Here’s hoping that you found the above considerations to be helpful and objective. We understand that each camp has its devoted fans – and for good reason. The decision of whether to go with an open-source or proprietary CMS can be deeply personal and depends on the past experiences we’ve had.

However, if you’re not committed to one licensing structure over the other, picking a side can be difficult. How can you be sure you’re making the right choice?

While we can’t decide for you, we can offer some advice. Think about your website project as a whole. Consider how you want to build, maintain and customize it. How much freedom and responsibility do you need or even want?

If you’re looking for low maintenance requirements and aren’t deterred by restrictive licensing, a proprietary CMS may be a perfect fit. Open-source, on the other hand, is a wonderful choice for those who want more control over every aspect of their site.

Once you’ve defined what you’re looking for, you can figure out which type of system works best for you. Good luck!

The post Proprietary vs. Open-Source: How to Choose the Right CMS appeared first on Speckyboy Design Magazine.



Read in browser »

Recent Articles:

When Chaos Invades: Keeping Your Freelance Business Going During a Crisis
8 Stunning Examples of CSS Glassmorphism Effects
Weekly News for Designers № 589
How Teaching Will Help You Become the Best Designer You Can Be
The Grumpy Designer Wonders: Why Are Clients So Cheap?
Share
Tweet
+1
Share
Forward
Copyright © 2021 Speckyboy Design Magazine, All rights reserved.
You signed up for daily Speckyboy Design Magazine email alerts either via Feedburner or directly through our site.

Our mailing address is:
Speckyboy Design Magazine
27 Braeside Park
Inverness, Scotland IV2 7HL
United Kingdom

Add us to your address book


Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Older messages

Speckyboy RSS: When Chaos Invades: Keeping Your Freelance Business Going During a Crisis

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Your latest Speckyboy content is here!. Speckyboy Design Magazine Design News, Resources & Inspiration When Chaos Invades: Keeping Your Freelance Business Going During a Crisis By Eric Karkovack on

Speckyboy RSS: 8 Stunning Examples of CSS Glassmorphism Effects

Monday, April 26, 2021

Your latest Speckyboy content is here!. Speckyboy Design Magazine Design News, Resources & Inspiration 8 Stunning Examples of CSS Glassmorphism Effects By Eric Karkovack on Apr 26, 2021 09:13 am

Speckyboy RSS: Weekly News for Designers № 589

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Your latest Speckyboy content is here!. Speckyboy Design Magazine Design News, Resources & Inspiration Weekly News for Designers № 589 By Speckyboy on Apr 23, 2021 06:06 pm Envato Elements Modern

Speckyboy RSS: How Teaching Will Help You Become the Best Designer You Can Be

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Your latest Speckyboy content is here!. Speckyboy Design Magazine Design News, Resources & Inspiration How Teaching Will Help You Become the Best Designer You Can Be By Addison Duvall on Apr 21,

Speckyboy RSS: The Grumpy Designer Wonders: Why Are Clients So Cheap?

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Your latest Speckyboy content is here!. Speckyboy Design Magazine Design News, Resources & Inspiration The Grumpy Designer Wonders: Why Are Clients So Cheap? By Eric Karkovack on Apr 20, 2021 08:17

✏ Is A Graphic Design Career For You? Create React Custom Hooks, Health Icons, and more...

Monday, June 14, 2021

Is a Graphic Design Career for You? (7 Questions to Ask Yourself) DRIBBBLE.COM COMMENTS When CSS Isn't Enough: JavaScript Requirements for Accessible Components SMASHINGMAGAZINE.COM COMMENTS Health

A Filmmaker's Kubrickian Loft

Monday, June 14, 2021

Design editor Wendy Goodman takes you inside the city's most exciting homes and design studios. Design Hunting A visual diary by Design Editor Wendy Goodman The living room (that's not really a

This New Tabletop Collection Has Us Falling Back in Love With Formality

Monday, June 14, 2021

Plus, 10 kitchen trends taking TikTok by storm (image) Architectural Digest AD PRO Logo The Expert Taps Former Domino EIC Jessica Romm Perez to Lead Partnerships Read More → CeCe Barfield's New

Accessibility Weekly #244: Looking at WCAG 2.5.5 for Better Target Sizes

Monday, June 14, 2021

Sponsored by Automattic. They're hiring. June 14, 2021 • Issue #244 View this issue online or browse the full issue archive. Featured: Looking at WCAG 2.5.5 for better target sizes Todd Libby talks

Bullet Charts, Tapestry, Group Orders, Media Queries, Health Icons

Monday, June 14, 2021

The 5 best design links, every day. Curated by a selection of great editors. Email not displaying properly? View browser version. Sidebar June 14 2021 How bullet charts taught me about the importance

✏ Perfection in Design, 11 Landing Page Design Tips, Scarlet illustrations, and more...

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Adding Shadows to SVG Icons with CSS and SVG Filters CSS-TRICKS.COM COMMENTS Perfection in Design: Why It's a Bad Idea HONGKIAT.COM COMMENTS Scarlet Illustrations - Abstract and Surreal

✏ Web Design Done Well, NoCode Revolution, Akar Icons, and more...

Saturday, June 12, 2021

✨Grab a Free .design Domain Name for your Portfolio✨ [ad] PORKBUN.COM Web Design Done Well: Making Use of Audio SMASHINGMAGAZINE.COM COMMENTS Website Design Mockup: Pitch your Ideas the Best Way

✏ Front-End Auditing Tools, Privacy Analysis of FLoC, Free Tailwind Kit, and more...

Friday, June 11, 2021

✨Grab a Free .design Domain Name for your Portfolio✨ [ad] PORKBUN.COM 13 Inspiring Graphic Design Trends for 2021 VECTORNATOR.IO COMMENTS Link Shorteners: Why You Shouldn't Use Them GCS.

Celebrating High Point, Welcoming Lila Allen

Friday, June 11, 2021

A weekly dispatch from Architectural Digest's Editor in Chief. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

💪 Diverse Fitness App Designs and more

Friday, June 11, 2021

Take A Peek At The Latest UpLabs Freebies 🔭 Check out these fresh high-quality Freebies that have been handpicked for you by the UpLabs team this week. Only $9.99 for UpLabs Premium! Seize the