CMS or Static, Which is Better?

A common question I get from clients is do I go with a content management system or a static coded website, and which is better. This question varies in responses as they each have their own purpose and usage. I will elaborate a bit more on this throughout this post. First let’s dig into the differences in the two.

What is a Content Management System (CMS)

A content management system on the web is something like WordPress, which allows you to take your content and publish it to the web with ease, it usually allows for easy modification of the site, without the need to dig into lines and lines of code.

Adding blog posts for example is much easier in WordPress because it does all of the backend linking and posting, all you need to do is give it the content and tell it where to put it. Such as this article, I wrote the text, came up with the ideas, applied some pictures and pressed post, that’s it, now it’s live on my site without having to build hyperlinks or link it anywhere else. If I wanted to change it’s category and slug or web address I would make the change then click update, the framework does the rest.

This on a traditional website could be upwards of an hour labor, which now, I can put towards future initiatives such as my Web Service Plans… Yes, I was up selling….

Now not everything is automatic with WordPress, sometimes you will still need someone to make structure changes, innovate new features and adjust styles, but for the most part, day to day operations are much easier in a CMS.

These types of site have a high content modification or addition, if you’re looking to blog, or constantly post new information or change information frequently, this might be your best bet, as it will eliminate the need to have a professional designer add or remove information for you in lines of code. However, keep in mind your resources and hosting requirements. Usually not a concern but you do need a database, support for PHP and preferably a linux based host, WordPress will run on Windows hosting, however cooperated better on Linux. Hardware requirements are minimal, but having more than one site you may run into sluggishness of hosting performance.

What is a Static Site

I use the term static not in the context of no animation or change, but in the content of change and difficulty to modify. Just like a CMS content can be changed, added, modified. However, this task usually requires someone who is very familiar with HTML, JavaScript, PHP etc. As everything appears in the code itself, something like the example shown below:

This is a sample line formatted in the heading 4 style below this is the code.

<head><title>CMS or Static, Which is Better?</title></head>
<h4>This is a sample line formatted in the heading 4 style below this is the code.</h4>

This is a example of what you see on the page, and what is behind the scenes on the page. As well what you would need to edit to make even just a simple change to the text. A static site can be very low profile, combining multiple scripts into minified versions to provide a low-profile delivery without the need for extra databases and resources. But be warned, they can become quite out of control too, I have seen both CMS and coded sites that could use a tune up or more resource allocation. It comes mainly down to content management, which I will get into on a future post.

So back to the question, which is right for me.

That in short comes down to a few different questions.

  1. How much exposure do you have to web code
    1. None – You probably want a CMS
    2. Some – You might want a CMS
    3. Extensive – You could go either way
  2. How many changes per month would you estimate to make
    1. 0 – 5 – Could go either way
    2. 6 – 10 – Might go with CMS, but static is doable
    3. 10 + I’d recommend a CMS

This is just a sample of what I would ask, although it really comes down to control, do you want to make the majority of changes, or will you rely on your web professional. This is the upmost important question. Another consideration is extensibility and features. Right now, you may just have a site that have five pages that really don’t need much maintenance, but in the future, you may want to add a blog, support forum or even change the look of your site. These all are easily done in a CMS, and usually with the right web designer much more cost effective then a static site.

There are many CMS’ on the market and each offer their own advantages and disadvantages. However for the most part, it comes down to preference, I myself am big on WordPress, but this is mostly because it is what I primarily work with, others such as Joomla, Drupal, Concrete5 etc. I have not really had a ton of exposure to, however something that is on my to-do list is to explore further into other CMS’ as I see a benefit in exploring their interfaces and not just be a one platform shop.

In summary, the right choice really comes down to your businesses or project’s needs, the capacities of the people that will be managing the site as well the amount of time they have to work with it. An important aspect of SEO is to have new content to drive and interest in your site and keep it fresh, this along with other days’ tasks can become overwhelming if you need to manually add it in to code.

I do offer a free service to all new and existing clients which is a one on one product consultation to ensure that the projects scope matches the end result, within this we go over all aspects of the website itself, such as hosting, domain name, security, soon to come service plans as well the best direction to head in, Static vs. CMS once we have all the goals laid out.


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