With pre-built CMS usually comes a lot of features that you do not need in your typical smaller project for small businesses and in the end you have to write a lot of your own functionality for said project anyways that is missing. So basically CMS in that scenario saves you initial time overhead of not having to design the solution from scratch, but then in the end the total costs may be lot higher and the whole solution can be inefficient due to nature of pre-built CMS, where you can end up spinning three cogwheels just to get functionality of the smallest one.

So is it not better to build your own solution for smaller projects, even if the initial costs are higher?

  • 5
    This has always seemed a backwards attitude to me, but it's strangely common. It's the large companies who can most afford to reinvent pre-existing software for no reason other than to get exactly what they want down the entire stack. The small low-budget projects benefit the most from reuse, especially reuse of open source software. Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 15:26

2 Answers 2


The answer, as with many things, is it depends. Pre-built CMS tools and custom software each offer a lot, but also have their drawbacks. It's a matter of weighing the business needs vs. what you are getting.

Pre-built CMSs (especially those that have been around a while), are usually pretty easy to use. They allow your clients to update their own content, taking maintenance of that off of a developer's plate, allowing them to work on other things to add value to the business. CMSs usually have a lot of online support, both for users and developers, meaning most problems can be easily solved. CMSs usually offer a lot of features that will cover most of what a small business needs. They can also be set up quickly, allowing a company to get something out there quickly (this can be crucial if time to market is important). They are also typically pretty cheap (compared to custom software).

On the flip side, CMSs will have a bit of a learning curve, both for the users and developers. There is also a chance that it might not have a feature you need. It may exist out there as a module or it may not, requiring someone (read: a developer) to make it. That could be easy or it could be very difficult. If a CMS doesn't meet enough of the business's requirements, it could easily be more cumbersome than building custom software.

The nice thing about custom software is that you can get everything you want and nothing you don't need. Things can come out exactly as you want, with processes and features tailored to a business's specific needs.

But all that custom fit niceness comes at a price. It's slower to get up and running. There isn't any online support for users. It hasn't been used and tested by many, many people (meaning there are probably bugs). It also ties up one or more developers' time and salary to maintain the application. This can make custom software expensive.

Whether to go the pre-built or custom route is a business decision. If the pre-built CMS does a better job of filling the business need, use it. If the custom built application makes the most business sense, go that route.


I'd say it's exactly the opposite.

One, writing custom software is extremely expensive. Small businesses won't be able to afford writing things that already exist from scratch, for large businesses that is less of an issue.

Two, pre-built CMSes that have been around for a long time have a LOT of functionality already in them out of the box. Small businesses don't need a lot of special functionality, and it's likely that everything they need already exists. Large businesses have really complicated processes and may need something new, or it may be even more expensive to change their other processes to match the software.

There is one thing that small businesses often have though: owners who believe that they are special snowflakes and that it is crucially important to do things like customer administration in a way that no other small business in the country does, even though the standard way is available as free software. So it goes.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.