Supersonic Playground Ltd
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Niche CMS: why you should avoid being wedded to a platform

With more than 498 different content management systems (CMS) available in today’s market, there’s a myriad of choice. The process of choosing a CMS can often be overwhelming, especially as it’s one of the most important, and most overlooked, factors of buying a new website.

4 minute read

Ultimately, your choice of CMS should consider the digital needs and objectives of your business. Every CMS has its pros and cons, but in this blog, we’ll explore why you should avoid a bespoke or niche platform.

Don’t get stuck with a niche CMS

As an agency, we often meet customers who have found themselves tied to a niche or bespoke platform because the relationship has broken down with their agency. Often the result of a multitude of factors, the client is now stuck with a CMS they can’t take with them, and that is, ultimately, redundant.

In one instance, a charity approached us in this exact position. They were tied to a platform called Wagtail, which, while popular in some circles, was a niche and unsupported CMS. As a result, the client couldn’t find another agency to support the old website and had to retire it, resulting in a substantial financial loss.

Why agencies choose niche platforms

There are many reasons why a web agency might choose a niche CMS. It may be because the platform suits their particular design or development style, or it could be that they want to target a narrow market.

Unfortunately, some agencies choose a niche CMS as a way of locking the client into their system indefinitely, often with the lure of an unusually cheap website upfront followed by an expensive and lengthy maintenance and support contract.

Three steps to confidence

Regardless of where you’re at in your website journey, these three simple steps will give you the confidence to make the decision that’s right for your business.

Ask the agency

If an agency is recommending a particular CMS, ask them the reasons why. If they can’t give valid reasons over and above their own preferences, then this could be a red flag.

Do your research

Online tools like WhatCMS.org are a good starting point. If you already have a website but aren’t sure what CMS it’s built on, you can enter the URL. If it’s using a CMS listed in their top 498, you’ll be able to see what position the CMS occupies and its market share as a percentage. Or you can browse their Tech Reports section to see all of the platforms they feature. As a general rule, if a CMS’ market share is less than 1%, it may be challenging to find agencies or developers to support it.

We’ve also carried out some comparisons of the most popular platforms on the market, which might help you with your search:

Ask for a demonstration

You wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive, and choosing the right CMS is no different. If you’re talking to an agency, ask them for demonstration of the admin area. Make sure it meets your expectations and that it’s easy to use before you commit. If an agency can’t or won’t give you a demo, take this as a red flag and move on.

Choosing the right CMS is an important, and often a personal decision. Your new website is a tool that you may need to use daily, so it’s vital to get a feel for how it will work for you. You need to feel confident that it does what you need it to do, and that you enjoy using it.

A final word of advice

If you’re in discussions with a web agency that offers a bespoke platform, we’d recommend against it. Most agencies don’t have the resources to invest in the scale of research and development that it takes to maintain a bespoke CMS, at least not like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal that have been evolved by thousands of developers over many years.

Creating a bespoke CMS may have been valid 15-20 years ago when CMS’ were in their infancy, but it’s now such an established market there’s no reason not to choose a tried and tested platform.

We hope this blog has proven useful to you, if you’d like to keep up to date with our hottest content, please sign up for our newsletter using the form at the bottom of the page.

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