Custom PHP web application development versus RAD frameworks and CMS

Jan 20, 2014 Mobile Web Development
Custom PHP web application development versus RAD frameworks and CMS

There’s a long-lasting debate in today’s business environment in general and among startups and SMEs in particular as to whether web applications should be designed and developed from scratch or using rapid application development (RAD) frameworks such as Spring, Zend, CakePHP or content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress, Joomla and others.

We’ve just analyzed pros and cons of both approaches in order to determine one that brings best value to meeting client requirements with web application solutions.

RAD framework / CMS-based web application development
Pros Cons
Cost – when you choose a “do it yourself” approach, you only pay for a web theme and some standard plug-ins and widgets, and, thus, can save your IT budget Lack of functionality – when you use RAD frameworks or CMS, you’re pretty much limited in what you can do to provide your customer with state-of-the-art UX. You can only choose from a standard set of features or pay for extra ones. That said, you just can’t have the freedom of experimenting and applying some very unique functionality that can help you stand out from the crowd
Agility – you don’t need to invest in hard-to-find or expensive software engineering and architecture resources and can easily edit web app content / change layouts and themes on your own without involving any programmers High dependence on PHP framework support – you should be very careful choosing a RAD PHP framework / CMS, as there’re many out there with no or very poor support. The wrong choice of a framework may result in malfunction of your web application, dramatic security issues and very slow time to market
  Risk of feature creep – the more features to add to your web application, the higher the possibility of a system crash
Custom PHP web development
Focus on core competences – you dedicate your time and efforts to business development and implementation of marketing strategies, while professionals take care of your web application development and support Cost – yes, you’ll have to hire a team of PHP developers and QA engineers to build your web application. But remember – nothing ventured – nothing gained.
Professional look-and-feel – a great looking website geared specifically towards your business objectives has a much higher conversion rate and, thus, can help better monetize your solutions and boost your business Time – it normally takes longer to develop a tailor-made web solution than build it using CMS or RAD frameworks, but the product quality will be better for sure.
Greater code control – when you have your web application developed by a team of professional PHP web developers, you get your source code as part of the final delivery and can transfer it to another vendor or sell it if you feel the web property doesn’t bring you any sufficient value. That said, you’re the sole code owner and can do with it whatever you want.  

Now let’s sum up: you should choose between custom PHP web development and “do it yourself” development with use of RAD frameworks / CMS platforms depending on your web needs.

If you’re thinking about a personal website that will only present some information and contain some very basic functionality – opt for WordPress or Joomla, but make sure the theme you select has appropriate support. However, if your goal is a robust web application offering unsurpassed user experiences and containing some unique tailor-made features – build your web application from scratch and forget about template-based solutions. When you need a good car, you go and buy it as a whole rather than assemble it from many parts (well, there’s a factory out there assembling it for you). It’s all the same with a good web application – when you need a sustainable long-term web solution, you better let professionals develop it for you.

And do you agree that custom PHP development allows aligning your web application to your specific business needs and respond to your end users’ needs more promptly and timely?

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