Open Source vs. Proprietary CMS for Law Firm Websites

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Many reliable content management systems are available on the market today. The key feature for law firm website design is to ensure that the content platform offers efficient and readily available support.

Any content management system (CMS), whether proprietary or open source, that does not provide dedicated support will fail to meet the long-term needs of your law firm website. When choosing a content system, ask the following questions:

  • Is the CMS updated frequently by the developers or open source community?
  • Is the CMS feature-rich?
  • Is the CMS easy to use?
  • Is the CMS secure?
  • What are the CMS’s unique features?

WordPress

We love WordPress. We find that it is a cutting-edge content management system.

Pros

  • Updated frequently: WordPress is updated at least monthly.
  • Feature rich: WordPress has thousands of plugins and many useful features.
  • Easy-to-use: WordPress is easy to learn and use.
  • Unique features: WordPress offers advanced functionality, such as an all-in one blog and website design.

Cons

  • Confusing to beginners: While WordPress is easy to learn, its many features and plugins can be overwhelming for an inexperienced end user.
  • Security: Although WordPress is generally secure, its popularity makes it a target for hackers. WordPress does a good job of patching vulnerabilities quickly, helping to alleviate security concerns.

Total Control

Total Control is PaperStreet’s proprietary content system. It is designed specifically for law firm websites to manage 13 modules of frequently used data types: attorneys, offices, practice areas, seminars, events, news, articles, languages, intranet, cases, blog, a proposal generator, and a general content module.

Pros

  • Updated frequently: We update Total Control on a monthly basis and we publish a major redesign every year.
  • Feature rich: With 13 modules specific to lawyer website design, we eliminate unnecessary features and focus on those that are most important to you. Our content system includes every component needed to power a dynamic law firm website.
  • Easy-to-use: We train our clients on how to use the entire Total Control system, typically in just 15 to 20 minutes. You may preview the system by watching our 6-minute demonstration video.
  • Secure: We continually monitor the system to ensure that Total Control is secure.
  • Unique features: We include advanced functionality with different modules and an all-in-one blog and website design.

Cons

  • Proprietary: Approximately 400 clients use a licensed version of the Total Control software on a monthly basis. This allows us to offer attorney website design at an affordable cost with the low monthly fee including support, upgrades, hosting and the content system itself. Our dedicated support team fully understands the content system and stands ready to help you at any time.

Other Content Management Systems to Consider

We have experience working with other open source content systems such as Joomla and Drupal. We also hear good things about Expression Engine, although we have not used it in a website yet. In our opinion, WordPress and Total Control meet the needs of our attorney clients better than these other content systems. Why?

We find that WordPress and Total Control offer a better interface and more flexibility. In addition, we witnessed security issues on Joomla websites when clients contacted us to “save” their website even though we had not built their site. Although the problem with those Joomla sites turned out to be older installs that simply were not upgraded, the review process to clean up the sites took much longer than a WordPress security review due to the Joomla code base and architecture.

As for Drupal, we simply prefer WordPress’s architecture and code base.

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