Is a Custom Coded Website Wrong for You?
The Sprocket Report
A custom coded website may sound like the platinum standard, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right solution for your business or organization. Understand what “custom code” really means to reduce unpleasant surprises and make the right decision.
A custom coded website is like owning a million-dollar house – they’re both very nice, but neither is cheap nor easy to maintain. Before investing in a new website, weigh the pros and cons.
Of course you get the exact look and functionality you want with a custom coded website rather than settling for something less exact. Some businesses want that experience, expect to pay more for it and plan ahead for the specialized maintenance required.
But you’d be surprised to know how many folks in the moderately-priced website range have custom coded sites and don’t even realize it. Until there’s a problem.
In the “olden days” of the Internet, all websites were custom coded. Remember when getting your webmaster to change a typo was such a big production? Standardizing functionality allowed inventive code writers to move beyond the basics to create new features and capabilities. Content Management System (CMS) varieties flourished, letting everybody post on their own sites.
Here at Sprocket Websites, we focus on two of the many CMS platforms: DNN and Wordpress. Because Wordpress is Linux-based and DNN is Windows-based, we can help a wider range of clients. Each has its advantages and disadvantages and both can fall prey to the “secret” custom code problem.
CMS platforms let your developer build a website out of pre-coded modules or plug-ins. Think of it as building with Lego bricks. You have a choice of styles, sizes and colors and they all fit together nicely. Let’s say, however, the client wants a “brick” that doesn’t exist. Some developers will secretly write custom code to create that specific “brick” before fitting it in with the rest of the “bricks” and handing the whole thing over to the client. As long as the client is happy, where’s the harm?
Here’s where: Someday something will be updated and suddenly the website is broken and the client has no idea why. Remember a couple years ago when Internet Explorer 10 was launched? Websites stopped functioning all over the place because the update broke code connections. If it’s not a browser update, it could be an Operating System (OS) update on a server or a version update of the CMS platform.
If you still have a relationship with your developer, they can fix that custom “brick” so it will fit again. If you don’t, it becomes very expensive to reverse-engineer what’s happened. On the other hand, standardized “brick” developers prepare for OS and platform updates, plus there is a community of folks to help you if needed who know those “bricks” inside and out.
Building a custom coded website could be the perfect choice for your project. Or you may need a custom module or plug-in. Just make sure the customization is your choice and not a “secret brick” you didn’t even know you had. If your current Wordpress or DNN site isn’t working the way it used to, give us a call. We’d be happy to help you fix it.