Compare Custom PHP Frameworks and CMS

Choices, choices, choices! That is what you will be faced with when creating your own website and even if you use a professional web development team; if they are good then they should give you multiple options in how you want to create your site and represent yourself online.

The best web design company will be adept at building all kinds of websites and thus they should let you take the reins when it comes to choosing what the best solution is for your business in particular.

If a company is too keen to push you in a certain direction then be weary – it may be that they’re suggesting what’s more convenient for them, not what’s best for you!

One of the options that ColorWhistle likes to offer our clients is the choice of using a PHP Framework or a CMS.

If you’d rather not answer the question alone, then we can help you come to the best conclusion, but it’s better for the long-term fortunes of your company to familiarize yourself with the concepts and then make the right choice. Let’s compare Custom PHP Frameworks and CMS.

PHP Frameworks and CMS What is Best?

So what’s the difference between a CMS and a PHP Framework?

Essentially, a CMS is a ‘Content Management System’ that gives you a nice back-end/control panel for managing your site and that defines some parameters for your design. In short, Content Management Systems make it much easier to create, update and manage your website but does also impose a few limitations. The best known examples are WordPress web development, Joomla! and Drupal.

On the other hand, PHP frameworks are a little trickier to explain. Basically, ‘PHP’ is the programming language that is used to create a CMS and with a PHP framework you essentially get a series of tools (such as ‘libraries’ and ‘classes’) that can be used to build a website.

This means it’s a bit closer to starting from scratch but you’ll get more flexibility from it as a result. Popular examples are CodeIgniter, Kohana, CakePHP and Symphony.

Alternatively, you may decide to create your own framework even and/or to build a CMS out of that. In essence, a CMS is the ‘scaffolding’ for your website plus a nice control panel and lots of plugins and features. A PHP framework is just the scaffolding.

Which Should I Use – CMS or PHP Framework?

That’s all very nice but which one is right for you?

Ultimately this is going to come down to the precise needs of your business. Of course, building a website with a PHP framework, or creating your own PHP framework is going to take a lot longer and is a lot more difficult (we can handle that for you though).

At the same time though, it ultimately gives you the option to add highly customized features both in terms of the UI and the control panel that you will use to update your site – and this makes it more scalable.

This might also help you to speed up your workflow, or to create completely unique and ambitious web designs. It also allows you to avoid some of the ‘bulk’ of CMS options like WordPress. This also means that you can edit the system as you go, which actually makes your site more scalable as your business grows. With a framework, there are no limitations.

Many CMS options like WordPress also have a few security risks, which is at least partially a symptom of their popularity. Using a PHP framework on the other hand potentially allows for more security – though of course this comes down to your coding.

Things to consider while choosing between CMS and Framework


Security is one great factor that needs to be taken into account while working on a website.

CMS, is an open source and the code is made public. There are lots of people using the same CMS and hence the hackers are aware of the loopholes. Moreover, security issues can arise through plugins and extensions, when a non-recommended one is chosen.

Whereas in Framework, the scenario is different, every line of code developed by a developer will be unique and since the coding structure normally followed is OOPS, it will be difficult for the hackers to crack the code and cause security issues.


When the user needs a website in a quick turnaround time, then CMS would be a good solution. Framework will require more time to create a completely manageable website. The later can be used for creating  more robust website, which involves lots of functionalities.

Also when the requirement of the customer changes frequently, it will be difficult for CMS to handle the custom work.  A simple WordPress developer will not be able to handle the custom needs of a customer. Hire a dedicated WordPress developer from ColorWhistle and turn your dreams into reality.

Whereas, a framework developer who has developed the website from the scratch will be able to adapt to the varying requirement of the customer easily.

In CMS, there are plugins available for almost every need of a customer. Only if the requirement is going to be special, the plugin has to be built for it. So in no time the website can have all functionality it requires.  Whereas in framework, things have to be created from scratch.


Going forward, there will be frequent updations from the CMS, themes, and plugins.

There might be limitations by the theme to suit the current CMS version. The same applies to plugins as well.

Also if a CMS was custom-made and if the user tries to upgrade to the latest version by themselves, there are chances for them to lose the custom-made functions and there might be a lot of CSS issues.

Now, what if I don’t upgrade my website? Certain functions might not work, issues in javascript may arise which will lead to increase in unnecessary loading time, which in turn will lead to resource usage.

The upgradation will affect the Framework as well but not to a greater extent as there are no themes and plugins. Problems may arise due to deprecated tags.

User Experience

User experience can be easily achieved by CMS rather than the Framework. In CMS, the code that makes the website responsive is already available, whereas in Framework it has to be written to meet the need of the website. Hence, when a quick website is needed which is viewed on almost all screens, then CMS would be a wise choice.


Customizations can be dreadful sometimes on CMS,  that too when the developer is not aware of the base code of the theme or plugin. There will be certain restrictions to use third-party plugins in CMS. Customizing the code in framework is easy and there will be no restrictions, as the code is developed from the base.

Time for customizations will be higher in CMS than frameworks.

Bug fixing will be difficult when working in a CMS rather than framework, as the developer will not have any idea about how the plugin is developed and what actually caused the bug. In framework, bug fixing will be an easy task, as he was the one who developed it. Hence, he understands the flow of code easily.

Few of our earlier posts might help you in gaining more ideas on frameworks and CMS

  1. How to Decide on the Right CMS for Your Website?
  2. WordPress is the Number One CMS to Use in 2016 – Here’s Why!
  3. Advanced PHP Frameworks Comparison
  4. Selecting Your eCommerce Platform – Comparing OpenCart vs WooCommerce vs Magento
  5. Laravel vs CodeIgniter vs Symfony – Choosing a PHP Framework for Your Web App
  6. The Advantages of Choosing a WordPress-Based Ecommerce Platform

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Summing up CMS or PHP Framework?

In conclusion, the best choice will depend on your business. For those looking for something quick and easy and who aren’t dealing with lots of sensitive information, going the WordPress web development route will likely suffice and will probably be quicker.

On the other hand, a PHP framework is more suited to larger organizations, or those with hopes of becoming larger.

It’s more secure and more flexible – just a lot more complicated too! Then ofcourse, you might not need any of that. If you want a single page static site then you might just need some HTML and CSS.

Get in touch and we’ll happily have a chat about the best solution for your business.

Sankarnarayan. R
About the Author - Sankarnarayan. R

The founder and mastermind behind ColorWhistle is Sankarnarayan, a professional with over fourteen years of experience and a passion for website design services and digital marketing services. At ColorWhistle, our team has a wide range of skills and expertise and we always put our clients’ satisfaction first. This is what sets us apart from the competition – an eye for detail and the best website development services from the start to the completion of your project.

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