Understanding the Difference Between an Open-Source CMS and Proprietary CMS

by | Apr 19, 2023 | JFG News

A CMS (Content Management System) is a software application or a set of related programs that are used to create and manage digital content, typically for websites or online platforms. It provides a user-friendly interface that allows users to easily create, edit, and publish content without requiring advanced technical skills. Examples of content management systems include WordPress, Squarespace, and Drupal.

A CMS generally works by separating the content of a website from the design and functionality of the website, allowing content creators to focus on the content while web developers handle the design and functionality.

By using a CMS, businesses or individuals can efficiently manage large-scale websites, update product pages, add blogs or news articles, and ultimately keep content fresh and engaging to their target audiences.

What is an Open-Source CMS?

Open-source CMS platforms have gained immense popularity due to their collaborative and community-driven development approach, where a community of developers contributes their expertise and resources to develop and enhance the software. This community-driven approach enables continuous improvement, customization, and expansion of the platform as developers work together to update the code, develop extensions and plugins, and address reported bugs.

Due to its collaborative approach, open-source CMS platforms offer greater flexibility, extensibility, and customization. An open-source CMS allows users the freedom and flexibility to modify the platform as needed or employ a professional developer or agency to do so. Furthermore, there are no licensing or subscription fees associated with open-source, making it a cost-effective solution for small businesses and startups.

What is a Proprietary CMS?

A proprietary CMS is developed and owned by a company or an individual. It is usually provided under a restrictive license that limits the ways in which the software can be used, modified, or distributed. It’s not available to the public as open-source software.

Pros and Cons of a Proprietary CMS

The closed design of a proprietary CMS can offer greater security of its content and access to tailor-made features that meet the specific needs of an organization. Proprietary CMS solutions are typically developed by commercial software vendors and are offered as a product for purchase or as a subscription-based service. They are often marketed as a solution for managing content on websites and other digital channels, and they may come with features like templates, themes, plugins, and other tools to create and manage content.

However, the major disadvantage of proprietary CMS is the code that limits the ability to customize, modify or extend the software. Additionally, the licensing fees incurred, along with maintenance and support, can become expensive in the long run. It also requires users to depend solely on the vendor for updates, maintenance or support making businesses vulnerable to vendor lock-in, eliminating independent access.

So What is the Difference Between an Open-Source CMS and Proprietary CMS?

Proprietary CMS and open-source CMS, such as WordPress, each have unique characteristics and advantages.

Here are some key differences:

  • Ownership: A proprietary CMS is owned by a company or an individual, while an open-source CMS is developed and maintained by a community of developers who collaborate on the project.
  • License: A proprietary CMS is licensed under a restrictive license that limits the ways in which the software can be used, modified, or distributed. On the other hand, an open-source CMS is usually licensed under an open-source license, which allows anyone to use, modify, and distribute the software.
  • Cost: A proprietary CMS often comes with an upfront cost and ongoing licensing fees or subscription fees. In contrast, an open-source CMS is free to use and distribute, although some commercial versions may have associated costs.
  • Community: An open-source CMS has a large community of developers who work together to improve the software, fix bugs, and add new features. A proprietary CMS usually has a smaller community, although it may have dedicated customer support and training.

CMS Questions? Contact J. Fitzgerald Group!

At J. Fitzgerald Group, we believe our clients should have access to their website which is why we refer all of our clients to open-source CMS platforms. Your website is yours after all.

If you’re looking to regain ownership of your website and switch over to an open-source CMS, contact us today.