Let's look at the pros first, you don't have to pay for the basic software (it's free, right?). Also, you can have the site hosted wherever you want, and supposedly the CMS (Content Management System) is easy to understand and update, so you can "do-it-yourself." Most developers and designers like to work with WordPress (as long as they are the ones to build it) because of the 1000's of neat little plugins that are out there that can make the website do what you want it to do.
What about the cons? Well, althought the basic software is free, you do have to pay someone to "dress up" the theme, or build you a home page that looks like a website and not a blog, so it's not really free. Also, while hosting can be anywhere,.... it can be anywhere (with the 1000's of hosting companies, all are not equal, so sometimes you get a hosting company that can't support the traffic or gets hacked or is constantly down, etc.). And if you can log into the backend of a WordPress or Drupal or Joomla site, unless you know what you are doing, you'll be lost. It is not a place for amatuers, and there is a steep learning curve. In other words, it's not set up for someone who knows nothing about computers and websites. And all those neat little plugins... well they are produced by outside people, not WordPress; so the support if something isn't working right, or if WordPress updates it's software and the plugin is no longer compatible, you are out of luck and have to pay someone to fix it.
Hosted solutions offer something completely different, and designed specifically for people who have little or no knowledge of websites. Most solutions, like Adobe's Business Catalyst, offer not only an easy to use website editor that anyone can use to update a website, but also other built in tools that can make operating a website easy. The best thing, is that when Adobe updates it's software, every site built on that platform is automatically updated as well, and there are no "down" times when parts of the functionality of the site isn't working because of incompatibility. Now you do have to host the site with the solution, but most hosted solutions are using top of the line technology and equipment, with plenty of space and speed to keep your site loading properly and little to no down time. Most hosted solutions are SAAS models (Software as a Solution), which means you are leasing the software used to build and manage your site.
What's the difference in cost? Well, that depends. Open Source solutions usually have a higher setup, or upfront cost, and then a lower basic monthly cost for hosting. However, the constant updating that needs to be done, or if you have to find someone else to work on your site because the original developer can't be found with a warrant.... you can see that it can sometimes be much more expensive. With hosted solutions like Business Catalyst or others, you'll have a lower upfront cost, and while the monthly cost may be initially higher (paying for the CMS and hosting and other options), if you look at the cost over a 2 year period, you'll find that you probably will pay the same if not more with your Open Source solution when you factor in the upgrades, changes and updates to your content, etc.
My advice when it comes to developing your website, is first decide what you want your website to do. Don't build it just because everyone else has one. Have a plan or "strategy" in mind, and design your site and develop it based on that plan. Make your site work for you, driving qualified leads, selling more stuff, whatever you need. Then look at a number of options, do you want video content, do you want a site that can be viewed easily on multiple devices, do you want people to be able to pay you via the site, do you want to offer appointment scheduling, or event planning, or any number of other options.
If you are thinking about updating or redesigning or creating a new website, give me a call or shoot me an email and let's talk about what you want to do and how best to do it.