I am working with a web development and design company that has posed a custom CMS for my business. Since this will eat up 60% of the budget for the site, and also I fear tie me to the company, I am reluctant to go the custom route.
The company is telling me an off the shelf CMS is expensive and will be even more expensive for them to use then their custom one to link to the site.
I sense this isn't true but need more information.
Thank you for your assistance....I am ready to sign a contract in a few days and don't want to make a very expensive mistake either way.
It certainly depends on exactly what you need. If the features exist in an existing CMS systems than it would be much cheaper to go with a packaged CMS. Custom CMS is usually wrong, go with a popular CMS and add on to it or modify it. Open source CMS have had hundreds of people with thousands of hours invested in them.
Much more than the company you are talking to has invested in theirs... adding features, fixing bugs, enhancing security.
Take a look at Drupal. It's extremely powerful, and can be customized and actually used to develop pretty robust web applications.
Also, if you are going to build a web app from scratch look at Ruby on Rails.
PHP is so 1995 ;)
Custom work is expensive - for whatever it is you want to do.
Basically, you need to evaluate the amount of custom work to take an existing CMS and modify it to suit your needs (e.g. Drupal) versus the cost of developing the whole site from scratch. In the vast majority of cases, it would be cheaper to use an existing platform.
While I disagree with Ryan about Ruby on Rails versus PHP with a good framework, the statement is also irrelevant to you. If you're hiring someone to build the site for you (or customize it), then your biggest issue should be getting a good price, and not getting locked in with a single provider. If you can't find a few companies that can provide the support you need, then the technology choice is wrong (what if the company you chose to work for shuts down a month after your site goes live?).
A company I have worked with on a few occasions will instal Drupal with a custom theme (though not design the theme) for about $3,500 and add Ubercart (for eCommerce) for about $1,000. This includes a fair amount of customization, since a CMS without any customization is fairly useless.