Content management systems like Wordpress provide you with a protected administrator panel that give you are more visual interface to put your web presence together. Once exclusively designed for blogs, it has evolved from there to a point where it is a very reasonable first step for just about anyone’s first website, blog or not. Most of these CMSs can be extended with a myriad of plug-ins, most of those developed by individuals who like programming. They add just about any feature you’d like to your website. And a lot of them are either cheap or free. So where’s the catch?
Catch #1: Like Wordpress, many CMS are free and open source. What is bad about that? Open source means that anyone can look into the source code to see how the website works. Not YOUR website, really, but the code building blocks that your website is made of. And anyone includes hackers who’d love to hijack your website to spread viruses, worms, all sorts of stuff. You might think that no one would be interested in hacking YOU, but who the target is, really, is pretty irrellevant, as long as the website can help spread the boogies. And the fact that hackers can study the code of your website allows them to find security weak points that much more easily. And once your website is hacked, you’re in trouble.
Catch #2: Say you want your website to retrieve a schedule of deliveries based on your zip code. Or you want to have a contact form that includes a random poll from your polldaddy account or show a random quote of the day out of a database on your homepage. If you’re a web developer, setting up such functionality might not be that big of a deal. When you rely in a CMS, the task now becomes a hunting task for the plugin that a) does exactly what you want, b) has good reviews, c) is in current development, and d) is complatible with your version of your CMS. And you won’t get all of these questions answered unless you try the plug-ins out. Why is it important that they are under current development? Because otherwise your CMS might stop supporting it. But that also means that you have to update it, which leads me to
Catch #3: Tons of updates. To offer new functionality, the CMS needs to continuously be updated with introduces new security holes. To patch up security holes, the CMS needs to continuously be updated. And the same thing is true for every single plug-in you have installed. And I’ve seen many websites with as many as 15 plugins running. Think updating the apps on your smart phone is a hassle? Think again! Updating Wordpress and its plug-ins might, on the surface, seem as easy as clicking a button. But it’s really not. In many cases, certain versions of plugins interfere with certain versions of other plugins. Naturally, you won’t find that out until you’ve upgraded everything and started investigating why your website is acting strange. What if the plug-in that’s causing the issue is one that provides critical functionality to your website and you can’t roll back the upgrade? You need backups. Did you make backups? Do you know how to install them? Better pay for a maintenance plan from a web specialist which will cost you every month.
Catch #4: Because your CMS website is built with the idea of potentially providing as much functionality as possible, it’s not built lean. There is a lot of unneccesary code in there that you will likely not use. This slows down your website, which, in turn, hurts your search engine ranking and annoys your visitors. When you have a custom built website tailored to your needs, it will run much more quickly.
There you have it. I could go on, but these are my main gripes with Content Management Systems. They can be a little bit of a trap, deceiving in their simplicity.