Having a new site designed and built can be an exciting time filled with many questions about branding, strategy, delivery and more. But, one of the main questions that will always come up is what software to use. Does your site need to be custom built? Or can it be built using off the shelf software? What’s the difference and what long term impact can it have on your site?
Like most things in life, it really just depends on your circumstances, but we’ll try and explore a few benefits and draw backs of each approach.
Off The Shelf Or Ready Made?
Off the shelf packages have exploded in popularity in recent years. Systems such as Magento have made it easier for people to get websites online, saving them time that could be invested in other parts of the site.
These packages offer a wide range of pre-built features meaning developers can instead focus on building a great user experience and extending the system to meet their needs. They can save valuable time not having to rebuild the “standard” features that websites share which can be reinvested into creating a better site.
Quicker Turn Around And Lower Costs
The cost of a website and delivery times are (usually) reduced as less work is required. Combined with the extensive community that exists around these packages and massive list of extensions/plugins this makes off the shelf systems very appealing however they do have their disadvantages.
Security Exploits Are More Well Known
Because these systems are so well known, it means that exploits and security loopholes are discovered that can leave websites vulnerable. Don’t worry, providers are quick to act and regularly upgrade their software. For you, if you don’t upgrade when necessary, your site can be left exposed.
Extending Them Can Be A Major Undertaking/Expensive!
Despite being off the shelf and having a lot of functionality, sometimes this is extra bulk that isn’t required. Extending these systems to doing something unique or complex can also cause issues, so it’s worth bearing in mind before you go down this route.
Custom Built – A site from the ground up
On the flip side of the coin there are custom built systems. These are sites that don’t run on top of a framework or system and have been designed and built from the ground up. While these usually require a much larger budget/time allowance, they can offer a far better experience for the user and because they are designed specifically for the client, they tend to perform better.
They also allow a company the chance to innovate against the other websites that may exist in their sector. However the quality of the website depends on the company that built it – bugs and security flaws could exist in a custom package which the developer has not taken into consideration. They can also be more difficult to extend and customise in the future if ties with the original company that built the site disappear.
So Which One Do I Pick?
These are just a few of the considerations for picking the right solution for your new website – both offer their own advantages however it simply depends on your end goals and what your developers can deliver within your required timescales and budget. Remember, a website isn’t just a one off investment. To get the most out of it, you need to continuously be innovating and investing.
No matter which you choose, remember your users, remember your goals and work towards achieving them.