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Ready for an Economic Development Website Reboot? Weighing the Benefits of Open-Source vs. Proprietary Software

It’s hard to argue with 356 top executives. DCI’S most recent survey of corporate executives with site selection responsibilities – “Winning Strategies in Economic Development Marketing” – found an economic development website to be the single most effective marketing tool.

But there is debate in economic development circles about the best Content Management System (CMS) to serve as the backbone for your website. Some ED groups prefer a proprietary CMS — usually from a firm that has economic development experience. Others are turning to open-source software like WordPress. Which is the better choice?

Let’s start by taking a quick look at WordPress. A lot of people only know WordPress as a free blogging tool. The confusion lies in the fact that there are two types of WordPress: is, indeed, a free blogging platform. But there’s another type of WordPress – – that is a robust, open-source CMS that runs on almost any type of hosting.

In fact, WordPress powers about 25% of the world’s top websites – everything from Beyonce to BBC America and GoogleVentures, to The New Yorker and Fortune.

In the economic development world, San Jose Office of Economic Development, GrowAlpharetta, Dallas Regional Chamber, Invest in Holland, Georgia Department of Economic Development, Enterprise Florida and countless other sites have made the decision to entrust their sites to WordPress.

So, in a nutshell: whether it’s a proprietary CMS or WordPress, both are just software that help you manage and maintain your website. Let’s take a look at some of the strengths and weaknesses of each type of system:


Website SEO Pros and Cons

Winner: WordPress

When it comes to SEO, WordPress is a known entity that can get results.  A proprietary CMS might have similar functionality, but you’ll be reliant on the vendor to make any updates or changes.


Website Security Pros and Cons

Winner: Draw

While WordPress can be a very secure and stable system, its popularity can make it a target for hackers (although it’s hard to imagine an economic development site to be the target of a malicious attack). The proprietary CMS may appear more stable, however, security settings are mandated/updated by the developer team.


Website Cost Pros and Cons

Winner: WordPress

While both systems can have a range of associated costs, WordPress excels by limiting ongoing contract/update fees and empowering the client to own their site’s content.


Website Flexibility Pros and Cons

Winner: WordPress

This is really where WordPress shines.  The vast user base combined with open-source core software makes WordPress the most flexible CMS on the market.


Here at DCI, we’ve worked with both types of systems.  While we have developed both WordPress and proprietary CMS sites — we see open-source software to be the future. We love the flexibility and ease of WordPress, and have seen it work wonders for our clients.

But what do you think? Cast your vote below and let us know!

Website Reboot Cast Vote Button


Written By

Ian Richer

Ian is the Creative Director at DCI, overseeing digital design and branding for the firm and its clients. For over 10 years, Ian has developed brands and brand strategies for blue-chip clients in the digital agency world before teaming up with DCI in 2015.

More Articles by Ian Richer

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