Pre-built vs Custom CMS

Utilising a pre-built, off the shield, content management system VS building your own is a never ending debate in web development circles. It seems that most people are strongly in favor of one or the other.

On August 18th, 2007, a "geek Olympics", called Full Code Press was held between a team from Australia and a team from New Zealand. The contest was simple enough: build a fully operation website and content management system. Oh, and they had 24 hours to do it!

Team Australia elected to use the powerful pre-built CMS, Drupal, for the competition. Team New Zealand, called CodeBlacks decided to build a custom CMS. It would first appear as a suicide mission to build a full blown custom CMS in just 24 hours when you can utilise the power and versatility of a pre-built system like Drupal.

Surprisingly, the CodeBlacks won! One of the members of the Australian team told Sitepoint that they spent a lot of time overriding the default styles that come with Drupal. Whereas the Codeblacks felt that the client required a solution that was very easy and simple to use, and that that would only be achieved by building a custom system.

I am a coder who does use pre-built systems like Drupal and Wordpress, but also likes to build custom systems. I think the solution chosen does come down to the exact requirements of the client. Using a pre-built system may well be quick and easy, but when you need to build something unique, it can very quickly become a time consuming mission to customise a pre-built system. Whereas if you build a custom solution from scratch, you can build it the right way for the client and the end solution will end up leaner, sleeker, faster and easier to use.

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Nice post, and it sums up nicely how even well-regarded systems have their limitations. I've recently taken a step back from Joomla for the same reasons, use Wordpress for simple content sites and go bespoke for anything more complex.

You know my love of some of the pre-built systems for affiliate work. For small budget, quick development (if you don't have CodeBlacks's skills!) they are great, but you always hit a compromise somewhere.

Just like a nice suit, bespoke is always the best, but not everyone's budget stretches all the way to Saville Row.
Nice to see these guys get a Kilgour site on a TKMaxx budget though.

Blair Wadman's picture

Thanks for the comment Stephen. I like the suit analogy. That does explain things very well!

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