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Off-the-shelf or bespoke? With Shoga, the choice is yours!

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When it comes to developing content managed websites, there’s two approaches available. These are off-the-shelf or bespoke. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages and we recommend both routes to our clients based upon their requirements. This blog post will outline some of the key benefits and issues with using each platform.

Off the shelf website development

Developing a website using an off-the-shelf content management system has some really solid benefits but also comes with some quite serious risks. WordPress has become one of the most popular open-source content management systems (CMS) used to develop modern websites. It’s the one we most commonly use at Shoga as the majority of our work in this area is in the development of B2B brochure sites. The main benefit is that it provides all the core functionality required for a brochure site, including a robust content editor and user management, out the box. This leads to a reduction in development time and therefore a reduction in cost. As it’s also widely used, many people have had previous exposure to the system and they’re comfortable with using its back-end interface. Google is also a big fan of WordPress sites and has no trouble indexing its content. Also, there’s a wealth of plugins available to extend the functionality of your website without any prior technical knowledge.

However there’s also a pretty major issue with using WordPress. This is related to your site’s security. If you’re WordPress install and plugins aren’t regularly kept up-to-date, then your site can be open to being hacked. It’s important that you either use software to do this automatically or manually check in regularly and update your plugins as and when required. Also, installing lots of WordPress plugins can cause issues with your site load time. The more plugins you install, the more calls to the web server the site has to make and this leads to the slowdown. As Google is keen on prioritising fast loading websites now, it’s important that you consider this when selecting a suitable CMS.

Bespoke website development

Should you wish to go down the bespoke development route there’s an equal amount of advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage is that you get a solution 100% tailored to your requirements. We’ve recently completed development of a new bespoke website for Bass Face. It became clear very quickly that since the company’s requirements were so specialist that this was the most suitable option for them. Our content management already has good modules for content editing, menu building and user management so this functionality is already built in and ready to go. However when it came to requirements such as an Excel spreadsheet importer / exporter and on-click PDF catalogue creation, this functionality was quite specialist so we built it around our client’s brief. A bespoke system can also load much quicker as it only contains the exact amount of code required to get the job done. In general, it’s also much more secure for similar reasons.

The main downside to bespoke site development is that clients are tied to a system unique to them. Whilst we do build on an open-source PHP framework, the actual site itself is 100% built to client’s requirements. So should you wish to engage another development company in future, it’s likely they will need to spend chargeable time getting to know the site and reviewing all the code.

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, Shoga offers both development routes and we review each client’s requirements in detail before recommending the most suitable solution. If you’re still trying to figure out what’s best for you, please give us a call and we’ll do our best to help.

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