7th

AUG
2014

Plug-Ins Are Free, Right?

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Often our new clients are initially skeptical of a proprietary system. Proprietary systems get a lot of bad press since the vast majority of web development shops use open source, but the truth is there are negatives and positives to both open source and proprietary systems.

One of the common questions that comes up while talking to a potential customer goes something like this:

"Dave, I'm looking at this quote you provided and I noticed that you're charging money for each of these plug-ins on the website. I heard that in open-source CMS platforms, plug-ins are free. I don't know how I feel about paying you money for a bunch of them!"

This is a very, very common misconception.  First, take a system like Wordpress, for example: while many plug-ins are free, there are also a large number of plug-ins that do require a licensing fee to use them. Usually the best built and most feature rich plug-ins need to be licensed.

If you think about that for a moment, it makes sense. Developing any type of program takes time, and well-built plug-ins require time and effort (and financial resources) to keep their project bug-free and updated. Those totally free plug-ins? Guess who they’re built by: People that code in their spare time for fun... and those coders will generally not have any urgency to keep their project bug-free and updated. After all, it's a hobby for them.

That being said, setting aside the free vs. paid plug-in aspect for a moment, the cost goes beyond just licensing a plug-in as well. As after you have purchased a plug-in for your site, or even selected a free one to use, it is still going to require some customization. Why, you ask? Well, unless whatever the plug-in is adding to your site is extremely simple, you are also going to need to have that plug-in's design modified to fit in with the rest of your site... otherwise, it'll stick out like a sore thumb and look out of place.

So while the plug-in you are using might be "free," if you want to have a professional site that won't scare away your customers, then it's not really free, no matter the platform your website is being built on.