How much does it cost?
Because there are free options available, how much you spend on your CMS depends on how technically able your company’s team is and how niche your specifications are. It’s not necessarily the case that the more you spend the better your online presence will be. For one thing, a site is only as good as its content: CMS is simply the vehicle that gets your content online.
Aside from the spec of the operating system itself -- which would be the main concern with a bespoke system -- if you decide to buy the rights to the software for yourself, the bulk of your investment will rest in your licence. Licensing means that you own that software and you can more or less do what you want with it. Once you have it, you’re secure in that you have control over it and can install it in-house.
We spoke with Pete Stevens of GOSS Interactive, a CMS software and development company that also provides hosting. While adamant a CMS should be a crucial part of any business plan, especially for online start ups, Pete is also of the belief that a full licence is an unnecessary luxury for young businesses. He explains: “A full licence starts at about £22,000, though it depends on the size of the user. As you can imagine when you buy a licence you have unlimited use.
“But for a startup company that might only have a few users, a full licence might be a bit excessive. Another method is using the software as a server where you just pay per user: that would start at about £600 per user. You get exactly the same system, you’re just buying less of it as it were. You’re basically renting software.”
Alternatively, you can go down the Open Source route where initial software costs are nil. But even so, unless you’re quite tech savvy you’ll probably want someone to support and fine-tune the system for you when you set up your site.
Be aware too that installing a WCMS, whether licensed or Open Source, is one thing; hosting your entire site yourself is quite another. When you consider that to host a site on your premises you need to buy the server, hire a leased line as well as having the technical staff to set it up and maintain it as well, this is a costly option.
According to Pete, the first thing you need to do when choosing your CMS is think just how quickly and how big you’re going to grow: “On the smaller scales, an Open Source CMS may be fine. But if you just take off, you’re suddenly going to hit a brick wall and realise you can’t grow your website any more. You’ll have to go from scratch again. Try to project where you’ll be in six to twelve months.”
Adinda Sima, also of GOSS Interactive, believes that while there is merit in free systems, saleability really is the key concern: “For a startup company, if they started up with a basic Open Source product, they could of course build up from that. But if you consider that a lot of software providers have a mature product, it’s more straightforward. You can start up with a mature product and just pay for what you need. Then as you grow, you can access more as you need it.”