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Old 18-09-2009, 11:11 AM   #1
Frantic Fish
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Default Use CMS software for blog or develop own?

This is a post I'm making on a number of sites, so apologies about the duplication, but it's important for me to gather as many opinions as I can.

My question is this: is there any benefit to using WordPress or Blogger over and above creating my own blogging software for my site and my clients?

I'm launching a new section on my new site. Part of it will be a blog with the standard topical industry observations. I'll also have articles - some just simple pieces, a few hundred words. Others will be multi-page researched pieces with graphs, comparison charts, data etc. Weighty stuff (at least I hope).

I can get unlimited free programming from a knowledgeable PHP Linux guy (me pops) so I'm leaning towards getting a custom system developed that can be used as a template for client work. Clients I have right now will just be posting simple articles with comments - the classic 'blog'.

Am I right to think that a custom solution would be better?

Advantages I can see are
1) Security
No-one can see what my back-end runs on, hackers will have to work far harder.
2) Cost & Time after rollout
I don't have to get clients to host with WordPress to be fairly secure. If they don't host with WordPress, someone has to check for all patches, updates etc. Billable time (pain for the client) and not something I want to be doing anyway.
3) Lean mean install - not all the extra crap I don't want that comes bundled out of the box, I don't want to have to think about 'hacking the core' as it were.

I really just want
- text / images / links / CSS / doc upload (I use FCK Editor for the WYSIWYG interface in admin area)
- add / order categories for nav
- comments (captcha, pre-approved)
- pagination / archive
- extensionless urls
- search (via tags and detailed for all text)


This is all stuff we've done together before and won't stretch my programmer at all.

So my question is, is there any reason that I should consider pre-built CMS systems - and specifically WordPress or Blogger?

The only one I can think of is the initial time (i.e. cost). Once you've practised a bit can you install and config a system that does what I mention above plus get it styled to match the look of the existing site in a few hours?

Or am I missing something? Is there something else I'm missing about these systems that means I should consider them above a custom one?

Very grateful for comments, observations, opinions, stuff I'm overlooking etc.

Last edited by Frantic Fish; 18-09-2009 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 18-09-2009, 12:39 PM   #2
bumfluff
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Default Re: Use CMS software for blog or develop own?

Couple of things

1) WP and Blogger are mature systems, they've been tried and tested. Not saying they're perfect, but they have the advantage of having been around long enough to have most of the major bugs worked out. Support is also widely available, whereas a custom system would depend on your programmer friend being around if something went wrong. If something happened to him/her, it'll be a lot harder to get support. A friend of mine worked a while back on a big CMS type project that was custom built by another programmer. The site's original developer had gone off the scene, and the client had tried getting other programmers to make changes - my friend was the fourth, and the only one who managed to actually make all the required changes. On a large-scale custom project, it's a lot more difficult to get your head around how the system works.

2) If you make your own, you have the big advantage of being able to make the system work exactly how you want it to, both in terms of the UI and the backend stuff. If you have a good programmer, the completed site should be better optimised for your project than any out of the box solution.

Quote:
The only one I can think of is the initial time (i.e. cost). Once you've practised a bit can you install and config a system that does what I mention above plus get it styled to match the look of the existing site in a few hours?


I'd guess that a few hours is probably a bit optimistic there. Upload and installation is likely to be relatively quick (unless you're on dialup or something), but I'd set aside at least half a day (probably more, but depends on the complexity) for styling. It's hard to say without knowing what's needed though.. if all you wanted was to change a few font sizes, then obviously that won't take long. If you wanted everything in round-cornered boxes, various columns, pullouts and whatnot, I'd definitely leave a day or two to get it running and checked across the major browsers.
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Old 18-09-2009, 09:01 PM   #3
Frantic Fish
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Default Re: Use CMS software for blog or develop own?

Thanks for your reply.

re: 1) He's not going anywhere. He sort of lives to code - works Sundays, sits up all night to finish stuff. If he does decide he wants to jack it in (unlikely) I have another guy I've worked with who hopefully will come in with me (we both want it to happen once I'm better established). He also takes a very modular, extensively-commented approach. He's very oldschool. I can't write PHP but even I can understand what does what on his sites. So I'm not worried about handover if it happens either.

Thanks for the timescale advice. This was what I hoped; I'd reckoned half a day or so to install and config our own system.
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Old 19-09-2009, 09:58 AM   #4
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Default Re: Use CMS software for blog or develop own?

Will your clients be happy using a "home brew" solution or would they rather go with something generic? By going the home brew route they might feel a degree of lock in.

If you are going to write code anyway, why not build a cut down build of WP with some added bespoke modules and introduce a simple mechanism for updating it as new releases get issued. This way you can have a "well known name" to offer your clients AND have the required functionality for your systems management.
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Old 20-09-2009, 01:18 PM   #5
Frantic Fish
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Default Re: Use CMS software for blog or develop own?

Quote:
By going the home brew route they might feel a degree of lock in.
Quote:
why not build a cut down build of WP with some added bespoke modules and introduce a simple mechanism for updating it as new releases get issued.
Well if I provide my own system they are tied - not to me but to any PHP developer if they want to / have to go elsewhere. If they want to add to the system they need a reasonably competent PHP developer with SEO awareness. This isn't rocket science, it's not very demanding code-wise. But it won't need patching - unless the server it's hosted on installs a newer version of PHP which stops certain code from working.

If they go with WordPress then they are tied to it. They need to pay me or WordPress to keep it up to date and secure.

I do agree that I should be able to offer a choice though. At least then if I am going to pitch my system I can explain why. I'm going to spend a week playing with Blogger and WordPress. Thanks for your input.
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Old 07-10-2009, 01:02 PM   #6
Brian Turner
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Default Re: Use CMS software for blog or develop own?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frantic Fish View Post
1) He's not going anywhere.
Sounds like you're breaking a basic business rule, by making this entire section of your business entirely dependent on a single outsource individual.

What if the system breaks with a new PHP release, what if he has had an accident and can't help, what if he gets a job elsewhere or even dies?

You would then have tied all your clients to a system you will have trouble supporting.

Wordpress is a simple system to use, or Joomla if you have to - really, you're asking whether it's a good idea to reinvent the wheel and unless you can offer something big and new in doing so, there's little point doing so IMO.
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Old 07-10-2009, 01:53 PM   #7
Frantic Fish
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Default Re: Use CMS software for blog or develop own?

Quote:
making this entire section of your business entirely dependent on a single outsource individual
In principle yes, but this is PHP - not some language that only he knows how to code.
Quote:
What if the system breaks with a new PHP release
What if the WordPress system needs patching and we're no longer around?
Handing a WP system over to another developer is only a hassle-free transfer if that developer also knows WP. If they don't then a custom system using about 5% of the files and code is FAR easier to get to grips with. Your comments make it sound a little like WordPress developers are more common than PHP developers. WordPress is a PHP CMS, not the other way round.

We're not experienced in WP so I'm not keen to start using it on clients' sites until I know how to config it correctly (and in such a way that it will be fairly future-proof and secure).

I do intend to learn it, as having had a play on WordPress.com I did like the features it offers.
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Old 08-01-2010, 01:18 PM   #8
polyspiral
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Default Re: Use CMS software for blog or develop own?

Im in love with Wordpress, I think its the best for me
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Old 14-10-2010, 12:57 AM   #9
Cyber Money Maker
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Thumbs up Re: Use CMS software for blog or develop own?

I would go with Joomla.
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Old 05-11-2010, 03:20 AM   #10
barnakles
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Default Re: Use CMS software for blog or develop own?

I see your point about PHP being a commonly understood language, but the same can be said about WP. There are 25 million WP sites, according to them - so plenty of programmers around that know it inside out. After you build and publish a WP site it's very unlikely you will need to patch it. Sure, your client may want to upgrade to the latest version, but that can be a chargeable item.

Security is definitely an issue, such a widely used platform is bound to be a target. I think these fears are a little overblown. Hackers will often target the webserver itself rather than simply try to break into the site. It is also quite easy to change the standard URLs of the login pages etc in WP.

Finally, it takes a lot more than simply good PHP skill to build a CMS even half as good as WP. You need someone with database, usability, optimisation, graphic, architecture, front-end (jquery etc) etc - these days websites and CMS have moved on to a point where it is very rare to find one person who can do everything, and still come up with something a fraction as good as WP.
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