Open source or proprietary CMS?

Open source or proprietary CMS?

Suppose you are about to redesign your company website. In that case, you probably ponder whether you should use an open source Content Management System (CMS) or a specific web design company’s proprietary CMS. This article compares these two options and (spoiler alert) clearly recommends open-source CMS as the most practical choice.

Please note: In this case, we are discussing a situation of a standard marketing website that can be developed using common CMS systems. We are not discussing a custom system that requires the use of a specific platform.

Proprietary CMS ties you to the company that developed it

When you use proprietary software, you marry the company that designed it. You depend on them for support, maintenance, and future add-ons. But what if the communication goes sour or the company goes out of business? Using an open-source system such as WordPress or Joomla will give you peace of mind that you will always find a designer who knows how to work with it.

Technical upgrades

It is a challenge to keep up with fast-changing technology. A company has to make a living – grow business, build websites, support existing clientele. What often happens is that the company simply does not have enough resources to delegate to improving their CMS system. On the other hand, a worldwide community of developers has a massive resource of people who are passionate about improving the product and release upgrades, so your website is always up-to-date and secure.

Additional functionality

Proprietary software usually comes packaged with certain functionality tailored for a specific industry. For example, systems for Chambers of Commerce or community websites. But what if you need a whole new functionality? You pay for it, often A LOT, because it is custom development.

When you browse extensions libraries of open source systems, you will find virtually any functionality you may need, and the developers are usually happy to adjust the functionality to your needs for a fee.

Variety of designs

And let’s not forget about design. There are thousands of designers that create themes for WordPress and Joomla. A company that designed proprietary software will have a handful of designs that can be customized for their clients. However, there are cases when organizations had to do a complete redesign because their provider could not make the design mobile-friendly.  


Then there is the cost. Open-source systems are free, and the library of free plugins is extensive. However, most plugins have a free version and Pro version with extended functionality that you have purchase. Proprietary software, on the other hand, comes with a price tag or requires a monthly fee. Naturally, when a company invests into their own system, they need to make money.

In our experience, most websites and web functionality can be achieved using an open-source CMS such as WordPress or Joomla! These systems come with a wide range of plugins and components that can fulfill virtually any functionality you need (e-commerce, bookings, registrations, membership management, SEO and much, much more.) These systems are fully upgradeable and will serve you for years.