When starting your digital project, it can be difficult to navigate the range of options available.

Recently, our director Chris Coomber published a LinkedIn article about this on behalf of our sister company CodeHub 200. We share a few of his key thoughts below. Click here to read the full article.

What are you trying to achieve?

Initial objectives usually involve one, or a combination, of the following:
• Improving business efficiency
• Simplifying an operational process
• Improving employee experience
• Automating administrative tasks to enhance speed and accuracy
• Ensuring data security
• Enhancing customer experience to boost ecommerce

Whatever the required end result, selecting the right software solution is essential, yet it can be a complex set of considerations to arrive at the best conclusion.

Off the shelf

At CodeHub 200, we’re regularly asked for an off the shelf solution such as WordPress with a built in content management system (CMS), existing design templates, themes and a range of functionality based around third party plugins.

Off the shelf works 90-95% of the time for basic sites in the short term. WYSIWYG, drag and drop web design and build tools, online back end and CMS systems have their merit. They can work incredibly well for a period of time. However, would a bespoke solution be better in the long run?

Is an off the shelf package or bespoke solution right for me?

It depends on what you want it to achieve. Here’s a few key considerations when selecting a bespoke CMS or off the shelf package.

What are your business critical factors?

When embarking on any new software development project it is vital to have a clear idea about what is essential functionality, what makes the process simplest for end user and how much flexibility is required in customisation in the longer term.

Data security? Resilience? Speed? Automation? If something broke, how would you respond? If your site went down, how would it impact your bottom line?

How much does it cost?

Your website creates an important impression for your business. Unless your budget is exceptionally tight, it’s better to think in terms of overall value.

Off the shelf systems can initially be cheaper to adapt and many plugins are free to install. However, what about maintenance and upkeep? Hosting? Security? It is important to factor in future costs for system or design changes.

Which CMS is more secure?

As there are millions of websites using WordPress, with its open-source nature, they are an obvious target for computer hackers. If a hacker can find a vulnerability in one system, it is likely that this exists on many of the others.

You need to consider how visible are you to hackers. Is your industry sector a key target for a security breach? Do you hold large volumes of valuable data, such as secure/confidential information, personal or payment details?

Do you have a need for speed?

The speed of a website affects SEO, as well as the general user experience. WordPress caters for many different styles of websites and has lots of unused features, leading to ‘bloated’ code, so your server is processing more code than it needs to, causing slower page load speeds and taking up extra server storage.

What functionality do you need?

Plugins offer an excellent way to create additional functionality to a basic off the shelf system, at limited additional cost. Each plugin offered as an extension to WordPress such as a form or SEO plugin, is written by a third-party developer. Each have their own security vulnerabilities and issues, as well as challenges around ongoing updates and future dev support.

With a bespoke solution, we can create functionality based on your workflow processes and built out exactly what you need.

How much do you want to customise your design?

WordPress has a set of default designs or themes. This is an advantage as clients can choose from a library of easy to install themes. The downside is that a lot of the WordPress themes can look similar and offer limited customisation options.

The advantage with a custom-built software solution is that it can be designed exactly how you want. The designer does not need to fit into pre-built boxes but can start with a blank canvas to produce an original design to meet your exact requirements.

Bespoke CMS vs off the shelf: Conclusion

We believe your website and its associated functionality reflects your business. In the same way that you wouldn’t use home printed business cards to make a first impression, a website full of work arounds is unlikely to give you the complete solution.

We don’t want to deter you from using an off the shelf solution such as WordPress, as it certainly has its place. We want to make sure you have considered all the right elements to make a more informed decision when choosing a software development solution to meet your overall business objectives.

Get in touch at www.codehub200.com/contact-us and let’s get started on your next project.