The freedom of open source

April 04, 2017
- Longform
Author - Amy Jacobowitz

There’s one constant across every digital project Funkhaus has ever touched: we build on open source platforms.

A novice might know WordPress as a simple tool for designing a blog, but the capabilities for developers are vast. At any given time, hundreds of individuals are working on the platform, constantly changing and making improvements to it. Beyond that, over 18 percent of the internet is powered by WordPress, so the pure scale of it is hard to even imagine. WordPress is maintained primarily by Automattic, which hosts global websites like CNN, TED, and Spotify. They recently raised $30 million in VC funding, so the pace at which they are improving the platform is way beyond what anyone could do with a propriety CMS.

Many other companies that build websites do so on a proprietary CMS, which was never an option we seriously entertained. First and foremost, in Funkhaus’ early stages, we wanted to build on something that was free to keep the cost down for our clients who would have to offset the cost of expensive software development. Pragmatically, we also didn’t have the time or resources to develop a CMS alongside a steady load of client work. On top of all of that, with so many developers having their hands on it at any given time, security holes are found much quicker on WordPress than on closed source codebases.

Moreover, we never wanted to tie our clients to us for reasons that were not necessary, and in our minds, unethical. While we value all of our clients immensely and enjoy our collaborations, we don’t want them to feel held hostage to working with us because they’d be on the hook for paying for an entirely new website if they decided our hypothetical CMS was no longer serving them at some point in future. The large developer pool that works WordPress allows them a flexibility that if they ever wanted to leave us, they could find someone else to program their site, though we always hope that’s not the case.

For our purposes, it makes a lot of sense to develop our own CMS. It would benefit our bottom line, as we could charge a hefty monthly fee to every client for it, and it would allow for an even greater flexibility in design. But it would also greatly change the model in which we’ve operated over the last six years. The time that we save in maintaining a CMS is put towards designing and developing the best site for our clients’ wide-ranging needs. Since we have spent the last six years working exclusively with WordPress, we can safely say we know it back-to-front and there’s little doubt that anything you can build in a custom CMS can’t be successfully achieved through this open source platform.

Perhaps the best case for WordPress is its immense flexibility and scaleability. There’s no better testament to that than our own portfolio, where we’ve designed and built everything from e-commerce to hospitality, to production, publication, and more.