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A Content Management System (CMS) or Static Website: Which Is Right for You?

Mobile Payments

Content management systems (CMS), like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, ExpressionEngine, etc., are a dime a dozen these days. So common, in fact, that many folks don’t consider alternatives, such as a static website. Static websites simply use HTML (HyperText Markup Language) files that display content on your website. 

CMSs originated in a day and age when websites required some know-how in HTML to make changes on a site – which usually meant employing a web developer. Now with just a little training, all people who know how to use a text editor can change content on a website using a CMS.

Although static websites are somewhat few and far between these days, I wouldn’t count them out just yet. By considering the following questions, you can determine whether you need a CMS or a static website.

How many pages will your new site have? And how often will you update it? 

Static websites tend to have very few pages. Because these sites have a different HTML file for every page on your site, changes to standard pieces of your website (i.e., the header – like navigational elements, or the footer – contact information) may necessitate changing the code on every page. But when there are only a few pages on the site, this isn’t problematic. 

You will also consider how often you update the site. If someone in your office or company knows HTML, frequent changes may cause no problems. If not, you will rely on the help of a web developer, which usually incurs more cost. 

Will your site have complex functionality, like a store, shopping cart, calculators, customer databases, etc.?

Two important features of a non-static-site is user interactivity and the server processing. Typically, a highly interactive site requires more complicated elements that will require additional code, databases, and more server processing, all of which content management systems usually include. 

If you just need to capture user information with a simple web form that emails the information to someone internally, you can get by with a static site. If you need to store user information or process it using server calculations or rules, then you will need a more complex setup than a static website. 

Where will you host the site? 

Hosting CMSs costs more because they require more file storage and higher bandwidth to run server processes. Although cloud hosting doesn’t cost very much these days, popular CMSs often incur security, maintenance, and backup costs because they lay vulnerable to external hacks which can direct users to inapproptiate or spammy sites, change site files and database entries, and compromise sensitive information. 

Keeping CMSs up-to-date, making backups, and using security modules and services will ensure your site and information is safe and will cost more. 

What’s your budget?

Generally, static websites cost less than CMSs when developing the site initially. In the long-term, hosting for CMSs will cost more than static sites, but if you make frequent changes to a static site, paying a developer may exceed those long-term hosting fees. If you have no one on staff that can update a static site, you might pay more over time. 

What’s the purpose of the site? 

Microsites for marketing and sales campaigns, placeholder sites, sub-brand sites, and websites for small companies, particularly when minimal functionality is involved, may only need a static site. If it’s not going to change, it’s a small site, and it only needs to capture names and emails, you may save a lot of money going with a static site. 

If it is a large site or performs many complex functions, a CMS will benefit you most over time. Especially in the current state of search engine performance, where content is king and fresh and frequent content helps you move to the top of the search engine rankings, a CMS makes adding content very easy. 

Furthermore, the purpose of the site may dictate the particular CMS you use. For example, an eCommerce site may use a number of available product-based CMSs on the market, like Shopify. 

What did you decide? 

Perhaps these questions helped you determine whether or not you need a CMS or a static site. To summarize, static sites have very few pages, don’t have complex functionality, don’t need updates very often, and cost very little up front. Large sites that change a lot most likely need a CMS and will most likely reduce costs over time. If you need further help deciphering the type of site you need, feel free to give us a call or email us at info@dmgbluegill.com

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