I can’t say it often enough: If you are working for a small, cash-starved, well-meaning nonprofit, please resist the temptation to have your website custom-built. Do yourself a favour and go open source.
Even if you might have the money today to pay for someone to programme all the bells and whistles you might want today, think beyond the current contract. A website is not a brochure that you print once and never touch again – you want to build a site that sustains your organisation’s growth well into the future.
The programmes that power today’s websites have grown in sophistication over the years. Most problems have been solved before. Thousands of developers have poured their collective wisdom into the leading open source content management systems (like WordPress or Drupal) – and they will continue improving them even if you don’t pay a dime. This collective wisdom is yours to benefit from.
Do ask yourself: What will happen if your web development company goes bankrupt? What happens if they start charging ridiculous amounts? What happens if you fall out with them?
If your developer has built a proprietary website system for you (and maybe a couple of other clients), you don’t stand a chance. You will have to start over again. But if you’ve chosen a widely supported open source system, you’ll just smile and find someone else to do the job for you.
This article was originally posted in December 2010 on wiebkeherding.de