B2B Website Technology: Why I Say, Proprietary-Smietary

by Jennifer Beever

Proprietary website technologyShould you base your business to business website on a closed, proprietary technology or an open source technology platform that a majority of web developers can work with? In most cases, I recommend open source.

I came out of the software industry to found my marketing consulting business, New Incite, fifteen years ago. I get proprietary software. I sold and marketed proprietary software for fourteen years.

But along comes open source, and, as a result, a plethora of applications and add-ons that can make a web developer’s (and a website owner’s) life a lot easier. I work with small- to mid-size businesses for whom cost makes a difference and productivity is key. My recommendation to my clients is that they go with open source technologies. We’ve developed websites with open source platforms Word Press and Joomla and have considered Drupal.

Why? Open source is cheaper and more people know how to work with open source technologies. Proprietary systems are, well, proprietary. And often expensive. Only the developer and those licensed to work with the platform can do so. What happens when that developer goes away? Just disappears? This has happened to at least three clients that I can think of.

One negative aspect of open source websites is that the open source is well, “open” to hacking and malware. We have found malware inserted into WordPress sites on two occasions and removed it for our clients. There are add-on programs that you can install to protect from malware and backup your website. With some tools or utilities in place, I think  malware and the possibility of hacking on open source website risks are manageable.

So, “proprietary, smietary.” Don’t go there unless you have a really good reason. If you have to go with a proprietary technology platform, find out how old it is (the older the code, the less likely the search engines will find you) and find out whether or not the source code is held in an escrow account or otherwise available in case the developer goes out of business.

Marketers, web developers, what’s your opinion on proprietary versus open source websites? Please comment.


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