Over the last 4-6 year I’ve developed my own CMS. Most of my clients are agencies and what we’ve been doing is branding the CMS as their own and building sites for their clients. This has been working well so far as we have full control over the CMS and find it very easy to modify it to suite the needs of each individual client.
Recently however we’re getting more and requests from our clients to start using open source solutions like Wordpress. Many of my agencies clients are being warned against bespoke content management systems and advised that open source solutions are by far the best and preferred option.
I’ve always kept my distance from things like Wordpress, to be fair, I don’t really know why. I have this idea (maybe wrongly) that I’d be shoe horning websites into Wordpress rather than moulding the CMS around the needs of that client. I also have this idea that each time a client request a site and wants different functionality that I’d be constantly researching existing plugins to see if someone already does the job, and/or finding a similar plugin and making modifications to it t get it to do the job required.
My problem is at the minute I think our CMS gives us a unique selling point, we’re not just churning out Wordpress sites. On the flip side however I think we might be about to lose business or at least a client if we don’t start doing Wordpress development and custom plugin development.
If I’m honest, at the minute I don’t want to do it. There’s a million and one different businesses out there churning out sites built on Wordpress, how do you compete with that? What can you do differently. My problem is persuading my clients (and their clients) that using our CMS isn’t a bad thing, and that it has it’s benefits. This is where I struggle because technically anything our CMS can do you can do in Wordpress, and Wordpress can probably do more.
I don’t really know what I’m asking, but am I wrong for wanting to continue pushing our own CMS, or should we (like most other people) be investing time into looking to scrap our CMS and start working with an open-source solution?
Is there anything I can say to clients that would persuade them that open-source isn’t always the best way? Surely my clients want to be different to their competitors, but on the other hand is seems using a bespoke CMS is seen as a bad thing.
To give you an idea, here’s some of the benefits I think our CMS has;
- We developed it, so we have a good understand of how to build in custom functionality, even right down into the framework should it be needed. So there’s excellent support
- It’s currently delivering 4 differently styled administration interfaces, each styled to match each agencies branding.
- There’s plenty of built in functionality, pages, menu, panels (selecting which panels to show on which page), e-commerce, blog, case studies, form builder, control which users access which modules, galleries, slideshows, testimonials, events etc. At one point it did have some multi-lingual functionality, but found 99% of sites didn’t need it so we dropped it to make things easier to manage. We only turn on functionality that each site needs to keep things simple.
- If they have a problem there’s someone of the end of the phone or an email to fix it.
- We’re not currently charging for the use of the CMS, but instead we charge for creating the HTML, integrating it and installing the CMS etc, plus any bespoke functionality.
- If it’s felt that new functionality could be build in that would benefit other clients, we’re footing the bill for it.
- We understand one site doesn’t fit all, and we can make changing the admin interface to improve usability, even if one client has different needs to another.
My problem is, I could probably apply those same benefits to Wordpress.
- A good developer should have a good understanding of Wordpress, so should have no problem integrating custom functionality
- I’m sure a good develop could apply different styling to Wordpress.
- Wordpress has plenty of plugins available for it to do almost anything.
- A good developer should be able to provide a reasonable amount of support for Wordpress, although bugs within Wordpress itself could take time to resolve as you’re waiting for someone to fix it.
- Wordpress is free.
- Wordpress is very usable.
I really don’t know how to proceed.