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Benefits of Building a Website with Open Source Software

Design & Development

When it comes to building a website, you are faced with a variety of decisions that need to be made.  One of the most important decisions you’ll make when building a website, is choosing a CMS (content management system). There are two main options you’ll be faced with: Open Source or Proprietary?

At CommonPlaces, we prefer to use open source vs proprietary software. Some of the open source solutions we like working with most include WordPress, Drupal and Magento.  

Open Source Content Management Systems

Here are 5 benefits of open source Software:

1. “Stick it to the Man”

If you’ve ever been to an open source convention, you’ll typically notice a non-business professional vibe.  There is a refreshing attitude of not competition but collaboration. Being involved in this community and coming from the proprietary world originally, it is very eye opening to see the difference in approaches. The open source community is interested in providing a solution for the betterment of themselves and their client’s, rather than leveraging access to the information for personal gain. I compare this to the employee who won’t tell anyone how he or she has done something in order to protect their job security, while if they shared the information with the company, they could benefit as a whole.   

2. Virtually Unlimited Resources

In a previous position I worked for a very successful proprietary CMS company that had roughly 100 engineers developing and enhancing the product, and supporting existing customers. Now let’s compare that to the community of over 1,000,000 involved with the Drupal Community. This is an enormous asset to the open source world.  

If a proprietary CMS had their largest customer asking for the “X” feature, while 10 smaller customers asked for the “Y” feature, what do you think gets developed? In most cases, “X” would because it represents more revenue. With open source software, if there is a need for a solution, someone will develop it.

3. Freedom  

One thing to keep in mind is that because it’s free to use and open to the public, there are many developers out there using the software. This gives you a lot of flexibility. If you’re unhappy with your current developer, there are many others that can fill that void.  Be careful when hiring a vendor or individual though, I’ve heard this compares to giving razor blades to children. It can be dangerous in the wrong hands.

4. Flexibility

As open source software is not owned by any individual or company, it doesn’t have the constraints and limitations in terms of customizing the code that a proprietary CMS might have.  This means that the sky's the limit in terms of configuring and customizing the code to get the functionality you need.

5. Cost

Since open source software is publicly accessible, it’s virtually free to use and the only cost is the labor.  This means you can allocate your budget to finding the right developer to implement the software.

Now, just to be clear, there are some communities that promote the open source values, while others are “pseudo open source”. They’ll provide the framework for free, but enhancements and modules cost money. In the case of Magento, there are even different versions of the system, therefore it’s something to be aware of when considering your options.

Is Open Source Right For You?

Open source software is a great choice for any web project. There’s a large and supportive community backing it up. The code is virtually free to use and it’s extremely flexible when it comes to making modifications and customizations. Just be careful when hiring a developer - with such a huge community, there are many talented individuals out there, some more than others.

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