Why use a proprietary, licensed content management system?

Open source content management systems have come to dominate the sector, but does that mean there is never a reason to use a proprietary, licensed system?

I have to confess that this particular debate topic is born as much out of my own confusion, as the desire to pick an interesting subject.

Over the years I have worked with a huge number of content management systems. In the past the majority of these were proprietary, licensed systems provided by specialised companies. However, more recently I have seen a shift towards open source platforms such as Drupal, WordPress or the like.

For a while I could still see the value of choosing a licensed CMS. They were often better designed, more powerful and you received a greater level of support. However I increasingly find myself wondering why anybody would pay for a content management system license.

Over recent years the quality of open source content management systems have improved beyond recognition. More well known and popular open source projects have so many people working on them that licensed, proprietary systems cannot hope to keep up.

Support and longevity?

I guess support could still be a reason to go down the proprietary route. They tend to offer better documentation and have dedicated support. But on the other hand you could argue that open source often has a stronger and more vibrant community you can turn to.

Of course that presumes the project stays active. One of the big problems with open source is that the developer community can become fickle and move on to other projects, so abandoning a CMS that you are tied to. I guess you could argue the chance of that is less with proprietary systems.

Admittedly I am not a developer, but I struggle to make a case for licensed content management systems anymore and wondered if I am alone. I would therefore like to suggest that…

This house proposes that clients should stop paying for licensed, proprietary content management solutions and embrace open source.

What have I missed here? If you still use licensed, proprietary content management systems, can you explain to me why? What benefits do they provide over open source? If you are a proponent of open source, what is your response to concerns over longevity and support? Post your thoughts on the subject in the comments.

  • richarddale

    I definitely think mobile sites have their place. Many of the sites I built prior to RWD, static sites that view great on desktop and tablet. Its only when you get down to smart phone size that things start to break down. For many of these sites a mobile specific site would probably work better than a RWD site where I could be more focused and target the medium specifically.

    I did a RWD e-commerce website recently and although the end results were good, trying to get the shopping basket working and looking correct whilst being responsive was a nightmare and I couldn’t help but think that a mobile specific site would have been a better solution. When I browse the web using my iPad Air I never visit a fix width website and think this is a poor user experience why don’t they have a RWD site. I ony ever think this when on my iPhone.

  • sanedevil

    I am not a web designer, but have a team that is building one for me. So in trad way, I have to have a “web designer” design the site in Photoshop which is then handed to “web developer” to generate code.

    You can imagine there are several problems w this – time, costs, rework, code doesn’t do what the design shows etc.

    I hit upon your blog while thinking if there are tools that would eliminate the design-to-code step

    I very much agree w the house and would love to know the process and tools to help achieve this.

  • David R

    The simple answer is yes, a website must be responsive and also Google is focusing more on responsive websites, a static design
    web development firm still works OK in most cases when you have separate mobile friendly website.