HTML vs CMS Websites

Website building ranges from simple HTML coded ‘static’ pages to database driven dynamic CMS portals with constantly up to date information. Early on web developments, about all sites were created using static HTML to generate words and images on a webpage that was rendered by the browser. Today most Websites are created using a database driven CMS or Content Management System using server side scripts and dynamic web applications.

A static website is written and coded in HTML and often styled using CSS. This works well for ‘small’ Websites or sites that plan to stay unchanged for long periods of time. The downside is that you are required to manually code the page to create, change or update any content in the site; any modifications will involve directly working the code within each page, and then make the same changes on every page of the Website, although you can ease the workflow with the use of special editing software such as Adobe Dreamweaver. This task can get complicated for non-technical skilled users and will become expensive if you have to pay a professional to get this done. The end result is limited to what you can do with HTML code; and it is still preferable option for quick pages that need to get published to the web.

HTML Code view. This might look exactly the same way as a CMS counterpart when rendered by the browser. But the way is managed is what really makes the difference.

CMS technology usually makes use of a database for storing content and other information into a server. CMS based Websites allow the addition, removal or changing of content from multiple users and locations, and make it easy to alter a website without any coding knowledge. You can create and publish a web page with articles and pictures using a text editor like Microsoft Office. All the content is managed through a backend interface which lets you control how the content is delivered.

This technology works by separating content from presentation. Meaning that if you want a new look or feel to your pages, or even a small section of your site, can easily be done by changing the template and that updates the entire Website at once. The look and layout are controlled by the front end template that you see on the browser, and the textual and graphic content are delivered by the database when the page is rendered from the web server to your browser.

Backend editor interface, even if it does not render the exact same style in the front end of the web page, appearance is still very accurate. This is known as WYSIWYG editor

This approach is an excellent choice for companies which don’t employ a webmaster and need to update their sites periodically. A Content Management System is a huge advantage if plans are to make updates to content on a regular basis, for having special content or add functionalities such as e-commerce shopping cart, members-only sections, photo galleries, etc. or if you plan to grow the Website over time with the use of Extensions or Plug-ins that can easily extend its functionality. This is why CMS Websites often becomes the most cost effective option. Active CMS software is updated regularly to keep the website up to current standards.

Static HTML Websites may have a lower initial cost than a CMS, but the cost of maintenance and updates can make it far more expensive overall. It’s important for web professionals and their customers to know which approach to use in every situation. After all, while a CMS might have all the latest features and be great in some circumstances, it’ll be a waste of resources on other scenarios. Even though, at the moment top CMS options are free Open Source systems, the money spent on the Content Management System deployment and the Web Design could be a lot less if instead, a basic HTML page is used, but as you  may guess, this goes along with your Website’s level of complexity.

Anyone involved in Website development should take the time to consider which type of website is going to get the job done best. The type of web development is going to be dictated by the scope of the site required and the particular needs of the client.

In conclusion: For complex sites that need to be editable by non-technical staff and which changes very often, a CMS Website is the best bet. However, for a simple, static Website that doesn’t need to be constantly updated a traditional HTML solution will be good enough, as a CMS would become excessive and unnecessary if the Website does not take advantage of all its features.


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