When Free Isn’t Free: Don’t Focus on License Costs
CMS software comes in a variety of sizes, features and license costs. It can be tempting to choose open source software, which is often free. But license costs are only one (relatively small) part of the budget when it comes to building a CMS.
“Free” can quickly turn to “pricey”:
- Free software often means default features are bare
- Adding features to compensate for this stripped-down software means additional development costs, add-on software costs or both
- Support from the people behind free software like WordPress, for example, can cost more than $25,000 per month
“Free” can also cause costly problems down the road:
- Free software can be vulnerable to hacking. WordPress is notorious for serious security breaches that can leave your website, customer information and business at risk.
- Because it relies on community contributions (vs. a dedicated software company), open source can be abandoned. If you rely on an abandoned add-on, your site could lose functionality and be even more vulnerable to attacks.
From 40,000+ WordPress Websites in Alexa Top 1 Million, more than 70% of WordPress installations are vulnerable to hacker attacks.
The commercial CMS software we choose for our clients, like — Craft CMS or ExpressionEngine — does have a (typically one-time) license fee. But this license fee is an investment that provides returns in both the short- and long-term:
- The core content management functionality you need, straight out-of-the-box. No plugins needed to manage SEO or crop images or re-order pages — reducing initial build time and costs, as well as long-term maintenance.
- A dedicated software company has a vested, commercial interest in the security and stability of their software — making your site is more secure and stable.
- The makers of these commercial solutions offer monthly support for reasonable costs — freeing your technology budget and giving you peace of mind.
License costs can be deceiving. When considering CMS software, focus on your overall ROI — from the cost of the initial build to the cost of upgrades and maintenance.
When More Is Less: Don’t Pay for What You Don’t Need
There are many “enterprise” CMS software options available, that are meant to be one-size-fits-all by having every feature imaginable. Whether you need them or not.
While tempting to have everything at once, the reality is a complicated enterprise system can become more expensive and cumbersome over time:
- Features you don’t need clutter the interface and cause needless confusion for staff — leading to wasted time and lowered motivation to even use the CMS.
- Maintenance and upgrades become a resource-intensive chore to make sure all moving parts — even the ones you don’t use — continue working together.
- Large enterprise software is slower to add new, more modern features — like editing your site from your phone — causing your business to fall behind while you wait for the software maker to catch up.
CMS software that fits you where you are now, as well as where your business may be in the future, is cost-effective across the life of the website — from initial build to ongoing maintenance.
When Your Standards Aren’t Standard: You Need Flexibility
What you consider “default” features — to support increased online sales or more student applications or additional newsletter sign-ups — may not be not standard in all software or suited for how your business works.
A CMS that is flexible to your needs means a more agile website for your marketing:
- Create landing pages on-the-fly to respond quickly to new opportunities
- Choose different page layouts for different audiences or different types of content
- Support your digital marketing by integrating with your Mail Chimp newsletters or your SalesForce campaigns
- Quickly re-order page content with simple drag-and-drop
Your CMS software can mean the difference between a flexible site that lets you adapt to changing business needs or a static, stale site that turns away visitors.
CMS Dollars & Sense
We believe a CMS is more than software and it’s more than license costs. It’s a business investment that should deliver returns:
- Cost effective — not just an affordable license, but affordable to build and affordable to maintain
- The features you need, but nothing you don’t that can confuse staff
- Flexible to grow as your business grows
- Easy for staff to drive successful digital marketing efforts that build your business
Ready to save (and make!) money with the right CMS? Schedule a FREE 30 min consultation, and let's start a conversation!