Recently I’ve met a number of start-ups who’ve spent lots of time and money building a custom solution for their new website or web application! Not everyone knows about web technology the way a Geek like me does, so hopefully I’ll catch you in time before you go to another developer offering you a custom solution! This is the worst mistake you can do and will result in a lot of extra work and other problems down the line for the following reasons:
- Re-inventing the wheel: Why spend all that time and money building a site that an existing CMS (like Drupal) can deliver out of the box?! So many custom sites I’ve seen recently are full of features like user management that are standard functionality on any semi-decent CMS! Don’t waste your time, build on an existing CMS every time!
- Vendor Lock-In: Imagine you build a custom site that from now to eternity, you were always forced to go back to the original developer to get fixes and new features? That’s what so many custom website developers do, great for them, bad for you! You could always get another developer to trawl through the code and pick it up, but you’ve just wasted a couple of weeks for them to get up to speed when they could have been developing!
- Security: The fact is, any site you put on the web is public and open to attacks. Unless the developer has tested every single use case and feature on the site (very unlikely!) there will be holes in your site open for attack! By building on an existing platform, whether open-source or not, you are building on a system that is used on potentially thousands of other sites, all submitting issues to the developers to fix. After time, your custom developer is going to fall behind maintaining the system, and all the other custom systems they developed!
A few people say they are developing something so unique they had to go the custom route. When I finally see what it is that is so unique about their site, I’m usually shown a pretty standard site with one killer feature! Killer features are essential for making your site stand out above the noise, but trust me, all that time you wasted building the custom backend to support that killer feature, could have been done out of the box in hours, not weeks! While I am biased about Drupal, I honestly believe there is not one website or web application that could not be developed using the CMS! So take my advise – install it and then concentrate your time and money building the custom features that make it unique!