Why Do Freeware/Open Source Websites Actually Cost So Much?

Why Do Freeware/Open Source Websites Actually Cost So Much?

Category: General

On the face of it most people will find the lure of Freeware/Open Source Software an attractive proposition. After all it’s free (or practically free in many cases), it’s designed and built by global ‘like-minded’ communities of software enthusiasts, code writers and developers (some with good intent, some seeking ‘back door’ data collection and some with sinister intent to create hidden access gateways for ulterior motives).  However, as a coding enthusiast, you can easily “open the bonnet” yourself and look into the inner code and add or change features to suit your needs. With so many global contributors, the pace of innovation is thought to be speedier. Though, of course not everyone is on the same page with the same focus or goals at any one time. However, all things considered, surely Freeware/Open Source is the best starting point for building your company’s website?

Think on this:
If that is the case, then why do so many small, medium and large companies (particularly those that are Revenue and Profit driven) shun the lure of Freeware/Open Source website solutions and select traditional Industry Standard Microsoft based Website solutions?

Free Open Source solutions can be very costly
Once you factor in the amount of code written by so many people into Freeware/Open Source code you will soon find that superfluous elements of code often conflict with each other as each website is required to achieve more specific functionality for each application, business or organisation. This extra functionality can come from a huge variety of “Plug ins” that are written by the Freeware/Open Source Community and these need to be researched, chosen, tested and integrated into your existing Freeware website.   

Need for Speed
First of all, this superfluous code flies directly in the face of a fundamental rule of web sites: The NEED for SPEED: "If it takes longer than 3 seconds to load then 40% of clickers will have already dropped out.  73% of mobile internet users say that they’ve encountered a website that was too slow to load".  Taking out or streamlining this code to avoid shutting out website visitors needs to be carried out. Of course, there is a cost for doing this even though the code is initially “free” in many cases. This cost is paid by the company to the Digital Agency in order to make the Freeware website optimised to meet their business needs.

However, often there needs to be a “work around” instead, which then has an impact on the company’s staff who need to use a more complex and clunky system to update the Website with blogs and content.  A typical and often frustrating element is that many Open Source Content Management Systems DO NOT provide a “What you see is what you get” working screen making the whole process harder than it needs to be.  This then takes longer, impacting on staff time and therefore cost to the business.  

For example:
On the left is an Open Source CMS System page being published and on the right is a Big Red Platform – our industry standard Microsoft based system. The difference speaks for itself.

Quality of Streamlined Coding
It is a common occurrence that Freeware/Open Source quality of software code drops when the number of lines of code increases or as more and more “Plug-ins” are used.  In a business project, you cannot assume that the Open Source community support and code is enough to meet your business needs and your service to your customers could be compromised. Your business will need to have the support tools in place, you need structure, project management and a clear focus on the client’s business needs as well as some internal expertise on the same Freeware/Open Source solution your Digital Marketing company uses..

So, these services “making the free Open Source software work” are NOT free, the company pays the Digital Marketing company and also pay their own internal staff for spending more time to get to grips with the internal content management and housekeeping duties that are always required. Or, even more expensively, the company finds that they need to outsource these tasks at even greater cost to the Digital Marketing company.  So what one might believe to be “free” or inexpensive solutions will almost certainly cost significantly more than expected.

Business Websites
The fact is that most businesses will prefer to invest in traditional, supported industry standard Microsoft based software for their business needs and will NOT EVEN consider Freeware/Open Source Solutions for any of their business applications.  Their Accounting Software won’t be Freeware/Open Source but much more likely to have been bought from an Industry standard Microsoft based vendor: (eg Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, Pegasus, Xero etc)  Also, their Office Applications will almost NEVER be based on Freeware/Open Source.  Instead they will use supported solutions: (Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc). Finally, other applications will be very unlikely to be Freeware/Open Source: (Payroll, Logistics, Production Control, Stock Control, Manufacturing Systems etc)

The CULTURE of business is generally not to become “part of the Freeware/Open Source Code Community” to meet their business needs. Companies want solutions that work and that are well supported, providing the least possible hassle and best Return on Investment, year on year. That is why Freeware/Open Source is best left to those who wish to revel in the attractions coding for the love of the process and are passionate working in a community of like-minded coders.  

Most businesses don’t see the value in spending money on making things work when they can invest in safe, standard working IT solutions that are easy to learn, use and that are well supported. Yes, it usually requires an initial investment to buy the solution however it is almost always better value in the long run.

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