Dcode Group Blog

Best Website Approach: Off-The-Shelf or Custom Solution?

When developing your website, web-application or online store - there are a number of alternative approaches you can take. From off-the-shelf applications, to frameworks, to custom developed solutions, there are a wide range of solutions available - each with their own subset of alternatives and options. However it is important that when choosing an approach, you choose one that is most aligned with what you're looking to achieve.

Ultimately we find that there is never a silver bullet when it comes to developing online solutions - no one alternative will be suited to every option. However, there are better suited alternatives to different scenarios. And identifying which alternate approach suits different applications is the key in ensuring the success of your software.

Before anything, your first step should be to determine what you are looking to achieve (both now and into the future - in order to future-proof your application). This will give you a conceptual overview of your requirements. Using this, you can then determine which solution/approach will best serve your requirements.

There are some who swear by off-the-shelf solutions (ie Squarespace); commenting that "why re-invent the wheel" when you can use something that already has "all the bell's and whistles". The primary argument being that it is important to make use of readily available and maintained) software where possible. And while I agree with this DRY (Don't Repeat Yourself) approach - I also acknowledge its limitations.

If you want to use an off-the-shelf solution, there are certainly benefits. However these are only derived when you are using the software as it was intended. While these solutions provide a great set of tools and resources, often they are generalised for the "mass market". And if they are not aligned with your requirements, you can spend much time and energy "undoing" these solutions and re-working them.

As custom software developers, our core business is developing solutions to meet specific business requirements. We understand that systematizing your business in a way that replicates your business processes can help you to maintain a point of difference/competitive advantage. We also find that custom solutions can help automate repetitive processes in your business - adding efficiencies to your day-to-day tasks. And in some cases, help automate tasks that are not available on off-the-shelf solutions.

But often these approaches are more suited to those that have a clear understanding of their requirements and desired outcomes - that help to frame the software deliverables. Hence we work with both custom and off-the-shelf solutions and apply the best fit depending on the requirements of the client.

As you can see, there is no right or wrong answer; nor is there a better/worse approach on a macro level. Rather it is important to understand your requirements; understand that there are different approaches; and learn to determine the approach that will best suit your requirements.

If you're looking to develop a website, web-application or online store; contact us to find out how we can be of assistance. We can help you identify your requirements, assess the alternate approaches and the build a system (either a custom solution or off-the-shelf solution).


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