When should you choose a custom CMS over an off-the-shelf option?

Rajesh Bhimani
5 min readJan 28, 2023

A CMS solution can make or break your website.

This is why a lot of thought needs to go into choosing the right CMS system for your website.

Many people start by using an off-the-shelf CMS option which is a good option, to aid in website development. It has a low subscription cost and helps you make a website without investing too much efforts. The minimal maintenance and low development cost are some other key highlights of this CMS choice for people who choose it.

Another choice on the table is the custom CMS that is shaped to meet the tailored needs of a website. It doesn’t restrict your expansion on functionality or other requirements. You have 100% control over your website with it.

Custom CMS vs Off the shelf CMS

With this small introduction of both the CMS kinds, let’s head on to address the elephant in the room. In this article, we will discuss all of the specific reasons why you should choose a custom CMS over a ready-made solution.

Let’s get started.

Extended functionality

The off-the-shelf option is a great way to build your website in the initial phase. But considering the expansion in the future, you will need to add many extensions, templates, and others that can surge the entire cost of development in the long run.

This is well taken care of in a custom CMS solution that is designed to meet the needs of your business in the present as well as the future. It gives you tailor-made functionalities, new tool support as needed, new features addition, and more without increasing the cost of development abruptly.

Design and theme

The off-the-shelf option offers a pool of options to choose from for your website theme and design. You can either avail it for free or choose a paid product for the same.

However, in the custom CMS, you can choose a design and theme that align well with your brand image. It can be customized to your branding guidelines and changed at any time to meet current and future business needs.

Support and maintenance

Many people do not offer much attention to additional requirements like support and maintenance when choosing the off-the-shelf option. In it, you also need to pay extra for massive software updates and support administrations many times.

On the contrary, the custom CMS options come with free support for their customers. Some have a limited period of free support, while others offer lifetime support and maintenance policies, depending on the CMS and service provider. They are a viable option to consider in the long run in terms of ease of hosting your business and cost.


Initially, the off-the-shelf option may seem like an economical option as compared to a custom CMS. However, the unincluded maintenance, as well as support costs, can make it an expensive affair in the long run.

The ready-made CMS offerings charge support costs with month-to-month subscriptions, which can make a dent in your bank balance. On the contrary, a custom CMS will be handled by an expert group that will configure, test, construct, and finally executes the application with a significant initial investment. It is a one-time investment that will benefit you in the long run at a minimal maintenance cost. Apart from churning out profit, it will improve overall productivity and cost efficiency.

Time efficiency

There is a misconception about off-the-shelf options that they can be purchased and put to use. But the reality is that it takes much more time for its configuration and installation.

A custom CMS is built to meet the unique demands of your business, and its deployment takes time. Their development can stretch from one to three months but will be completely tailored to meet your business needs.

The final product will get deployed in minimal time and will be lightning-fast when put to use.

Optimized performance

The off-the-shelf options are versatile and built with greater features that your business won’t even require. It affects the performance in the long run, which is not an issue in the case of a custom CMS.

A custom CMS is tailored to meet your unique business needs. Thus, with no useless chunks of useless code, the performance improves, and a higher loading speed is achieved for the website. It also benefits the SEO ranking that helps you grab the attention of the potential users in the search engine results.

Improved security

In off-the-shelf solutions, the third-party plugins or themes may pose a risk to the security of the website which is like an invitation to hackers. Hackers can leverage the vulnerabilities of your business, hampering its growth in the long run.

On the other hand, security is never an issue in the case of a custom CMS. The code of your CMS will be known by only two parties, who will be bound by a non-disclosure agreement. This secrecy strengthens the security of your CMS and makes it less prone to attacks by hackers.

Responsive customer support

Customer support in an off-the-shelf CMS option takes care of a wide pool of customers. So, it becomes difficult many times to get instant support or assistance from the experts when your website experiences any technical glitch. It causes downtime in your business and pauses your work.

However, the custom CMS is backed by a team of dedicated developers who work on it from scratch because they are getting paid for it. After-sales service and customer support are quite remarkable in that you won’t have to hustle to fix a bug, modify the system, or add a feature whenever needed.

Here are some more things regarding a custom CMS to give you a short recap.

The silver lining of using a custom CMS

  • The changes made to your custom CMS will be solely decided by you and not by the owner of the software, as in the case of the shelf option.
  • You can attain a competitive advantage with customized solutions for your company.
  • The final product caters completely to your business processes and needs, which makes it easily scalable.
  • You can freely make changes to the product anytime since you have a hundred percent control over its development phase.

Key takeaways

A custom CMS is your step towards a brighter future. You may have started with an off-the-shelf option initially, but it isn’t sustainable in the long run if you want to scale your business. The reasons specified above are witness to the same. So, start with an investment initially that will benefit you immensely in the future. You may go with custom Drupal development from the start itself, and it will be much easier to scale as your business grows.



Rajesh Bhimani

Rajesh Bhimani is the Founder at Skynet Technologies, Website Design and Development Agency. He has 21 years of experience in Technology and Marketing industry.