CMS or Framework: 9 Questions to Help You Choose Wisely - Picture №1
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CMS or Framework: 9 Questions to Help You Choose Wisely

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The strategy for developing digital products is an exciting stage. The cost of development, speed and security, future development of the project, and code control are all dependent on it.


How can you prevent making the wrong choice? In conclusion, every technology has advantages, values, and supporters worldwide. Modern content management systems have become much more functional, and the development of the framework has accelerated due to modularity and ready-made components. Which is more suitable for your web project: a CMS or a framework? Let's examine the crucial differences between them that will be decisive.


CMS or framework: which should you choose?

To comprehend the critical difference between the two technologies, let's recall that a content management system was created as a blog builder. CMS made it easy for those without technical knowledge to post articles, set different design themes, and connect simple services through plugins, all without a line of code, which is why it is known as the CMS slogan. Since then, these web builders have evolved incredibly. Websites and small online stores can now be created on WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, OpenCart, and other platforms.


What about the site's complex functionality? Developing large online stores, CRM, WMS, ERP, LMS, MOOCs, and similar systems requires using a framework. Unlike a boxed CMS solution, a framework is a comprehensive workshop for modern web products. Developing from scratch can achieve a clear code architecture and create unique functionality. The framework's code libraries offer ready-made solutions for complex functions such as database management, authentication levels, session management, routing, caching, data validation, and logging.


In general, the following aspects can be used to compare CMS and framework:


CMS and framework comparison table: which is better


To make your decision easier, we have prepared nine questions to ask about your web product.


Business logic: simple or complex?

Let's start with the most important thing — the purpose of digitalization. Studies have proven that websites designed to meet business goals and target audience expectations have a higher conversion rate.


Certainly, using templates can be a practical approach for a small business looking to create a showcase that will last for a considerable time. However, more sophisticated tools are needed if the company plans to have such complex business processes as production or human resources management. In the case of online stores, you can use a framework to handle specific pricing logic, loyalty programs, supplier integration, or order processing. Where flexibility and adaptability to business processes are required, CMS systems must be expanded.


What about managing all of these business processes? When comparing frameworks and CMS, the CMS is usually emphasized as being more convenient. An admin panel is also present on modern websites built on a framework like Laravel. Unlike the CMS admin panel, which has unnecessary menu items that cannot be customized, this one is intuitive, understandable, and designed for a specific business. These are the essential elements where you can customize notifications, track statistics, and more; everything is nicely designed.


Cost: saving money or making an investment?

Building a simple website or online store on a CMS seems cheaper than building one on a framework. This is the best option for projects that prioritize launch speed and plan to modify content only slightly over time. However, as practice shows, additional CMS plugins will be needed with further site development. They have to be purchased separately or ordered from development teams, so we take this into account.


In order to ensure that all site functions are running smoothly, it is necessary to include code and “crutches” that damage the site's architecture. This causes problems with scaling, and transferring a web product to a new resource is often more expensive than creating it from scratch.


It's worth remembering that a high-quality web product can be costly, but these investments are justified.


To save money, you can use a pre-made design or layout and integrate it into the framework. While opting for a non-original design initially, you can still enhance it gradually, ensuring the website's foundation is solid from the start.


Of course, it's up to the company that performs it. However, according to the rules, custom development begins with an in-depth analysis, and a whole team works on the project for a reason. The product needs to be perfected by business analysts, UI/UX designers, QA engineers, and other specialists to make it profitable and bug-free.


UX/UI: standard features or unique innovations?

With a boxed solution like a CMS, a website owner can install the engine, add the necessary plugins, and launch their web product online. This is convenient for simple websites like blogs or online stores with a small catalog of products that can be called an “online storefront”:


An online store with standard functionality developed on CMS


Choosing a framework is better if you plan to create an entirely new web product and new features will be added over time. Modern customers are more demanding than ever before. Such advanced features as personalized offers and discounts, multimedia support, a map with delivery tracking, and 24/7 AI chatbots will help you build much stronger relationships with your customers:


An online store with advanced functionality developed on the framework


Of course, some of these functions are also implemented in modern CMSs that have sets of plugins for different tasks. However, each business has its peculiarities, and in most cases, you will still have to turn to the development team for custom plugins and integrations.


This is where the problems begin. CMS is an imperfect constructor, and due to its monolithic nature, any interventions in the architecture often lead to failures and a negative impact on website performance. The parts, i.e., modules, usually do not fit together, and chaos appears in the code architecture. All of this also takes time, which offsets the main advantage of ready-made designers — the speed of development.


Therefore, the further you move away from the primary principle of “no code” with a CMS, the worse it is. Thanks to many libraries, the framework allows you to install all the latest site features immediately, and these features will be a logical, “native” part of the architecture. Moreover, contractors develop modules, components, and solutions to create websites faster.


Marketing: impacting conversion or standard sales?

Successful companies prioritize providing unique design (UI) and user experience (UX) in their products to gain a competitive advantage. This makes the brand recognizable and creates a crucial first impression. Let's be honest: modern UX/UI designers are more than just concerned with the appearance of a website. They are pragmatists, first and foremost, dedicated to achieving specific marketing goals. Thoughtful navigation that simplifies user actions, making them more accessible, more enjoyable, and faster, directly impacts sales. This approach extends to all other elements of the site as well.


Marketers can impact project improvements, reduce user bounce rates, and solve problems due to the flexibility of the framework. Designers and marketers are constantly working on the look of the checkout process, product cards, catalog, and other pages. On the other hand, many content management systems limit the ability to implement such changes. A typical CMS offers a pre-made, step-by-step checkout process in which the user inputs the customer's information, fills in delivery information, and so forth. Many out-of-the-box CMS platforms may need to support this functionality to consolidate all order stages onto a single page. Implementing this can pose additional challenges and require dedicated resources to integrate fully into the system.


Performance: crucial or non-critical?

Speed is crucial for any web project, especially when processing hundreds of orders or holding an online conference simultaneously. Websites can expand to feature hundreds of thousands of products or accommodate a high volume of active users performing actions beyond simple browsing. Scalable multi-user platforms are essential to effectively manage such loads.


Several factors directly influence a website's speed and performance. Choosing the framework/CMS, coding technology, a successful combination of functions, and the correctness of external integrations are all factors that need to be considered.


When it comes to CMS, the type of CMS and the number of installed plugins are crucial factors. Internal shortcomings that affect speed are typical for the IT team when working with others: outdated class functions, inconsistent naming conventions, and file structuring. Fixing all of this is difficult and sometimes impossible. In addition, due to their multifunctionality, modern CMS systems have an excess of code designed for most standard functions. This impacts the performance and speed of the site and is an additional vulnerability.


Complex and highly loaded systems require flexibility and fine-tuning of the project, from the database structure to the presentation logic on the client side. A team of programmers creates only essential components and functions while working with a framework. Less code, full control over its architecture, unique functionality, and ease of support are all guaranteed.


Security: basic or enhanced?

Laravel frameworks are known for providing reliable protection against hacker attacks when writing websites. They maintain high-security standards through regular updates and benefit from a vigilant community closely monitoring cybersecurity developments.


The increased difficulty with CMS is that cybercriminals have already analyzed the code of popular systems, leading to an incomparably higher frequency of hacking on these platforms than on developed sites. The architecture of content management systems facilitates this. CMS folders are easy to hack because they are on the same level. In contrast, the framework has a 'zero level' feature, which means that system folders are located one level above the user can see. They are only accessible to the administrator. Furthermore, only the framework is capable of implementing your security solutions.


Unfortunately, some CMS plugins are flawed and have vulnerabilities, so this method is unsuitable for web products with unique security requirements.


SEO: complete control or standard optimization?

Search engine rules impact website development, as web development and SEO optimization are interconnected. Best practices, image compression, and responsive design are the key to successful SEO optimization. Competent SEO optimization can be achieved by using a CMS or developing from scratch.


By using a framework to develop a website from scratch, you can quickly meet the requirements of an SEO specialist and involve a team of marketers in this matter. Optimizing specific scripts and elements of the system core can make it challenging to achieve high Google PageSpeed results on a CMS. When developing the framework, you have complete control over all aspects, which allows you to maximize loading speed and other SEO parameters.


Integration with business applications: planned or not?

The framework does not generally restrict website integrations with other business systems. On the contrary, custom web development allows you to develop personalized, adapted systems for integrating with external business applications via the API interface.


Due to CMS limitations, strategic business initiatives can face significant challenges. We recommend using a framework to create a robust web product.


Scalability: is your project built for the future?

A CMS is the way to go if you need a basic website or an online store with a product catalog. But if your business is in it for the long run, building frameworks is a wiser investment. A framework stands out because it allows for modularity in coding, meaning you can isolate different parts of the code. It becomes easier to develop, test, and debug them. These modules can include content and site settings management, authorization, localization, image processing, SEO, and integration with third-party services. The modules can be calibrated and expanded over time without reworking the entire code. In contrast, the code is severely constrained because of the CMS' monolithic structure. It's a complete and essential structure where each component and function depend on each other, and any change affects the entire system.


Clean code ensures that the project will be easy to develop in the future, especially when working with other teams. Conversely, relying on complex, convoluted code with “crutches” can deter other web companies from offering support, which could be an unpleasant surprise. That's why developing a framework is a more cost-effective solution — it simplifies scaling and project support.


A CMS can be a convenient option for launching a standard website or a small online store quickly. For web projects that demand flexibility, scalability, and compliance with business processes, Laravel is the most cost-effective option. It's world-class web development.


The project's requirements, budget, and prospects will determine which framework or CMS is ultimately chosen. Contact us today, and we'll help you feel confident about the tool you select for your business idea!

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