Every couple of years I seem to end up in a job where someone wants me to write web-content for their small business. I’m not particularly sure why I end up with these jobs – I’ve never been particularly good at SEO and the accompanying headaches that come with writing for the web for money – but somehow it keeps happening despite my best intentions and heartfelt promise that it will never happen again.
When I went into the interview for my current job they mentioned they might want me to do a little work on their website, and I brought up the question of which content management system they were using. This brought a blank look from the interviewer, but after a little explanation we eventually got the answer: “we don’t know; we paid a company to produce the website.”
At this, I nodded and tried to hide the shriek of despair that threatened to escape at those words. “Self,” I said, via the magic of internal monologue, “if you end up with this job, it will be exactly three months before you try to brain yourself on the edge of the desk due to the horrors of a custom CMS.”
Today, three months later, right on queue, I spent a good twenty minutes introducing my forehead to the faux-pine veneer of my cubicle desk.
I’m not really an open-source kind of guy, but years have dealing with web-design companies who have developed their own content management systems have taught me that the phrase “proprietary CMS” is roughly equivalent to “we’re going to charge excessive amounts of money for small changes to your site that any idiot with common-sense would have designed that way in the first place, and you’ll still need to hand-code your punctuation in HTML when you post something.”
For some reasons the companies get tetchy when I point out we could start a whole new WordPress site that has ten times the functionality for the same price it’d cost us to install their hand-coded blogging CMS to the dodgy website CMS and shopping cart software they already have.