CMS vs Static Website

One of the most important decisions to make before having a website built for you is whether to choose a static website or a content management system, known as a CMS. There are advantages to both but choosing one over the other is a matter of determining what your needs are.

What is a Static Website?

Static or fixed websites are usually brochure type sites where the content does not need to change often or at all and where the number of pages is typically low. Updates can be made but will usually have to be done by a web developer or by someone with a rudimentary knowledge of how to use html and ftp.

Disadvantages of having a static site

  • potential difficulty in updating. Even a slight mistype within the code could disrupt the layout or operation of the web page
  • increased cost paid to a web developer for changes.
  • search engine optimization – or SEO – will not favor websites with static content over a similar site that has its content regularly updated.

Advantages of having a static site

  • Lower development cost. Static sites are usually built in a fraction of the time that a CMS will take.
  • Simple web hosting needs. Static sites do not generally need a database to store their contents in and can be hosted with your local cable company which often gives around 5MB of space to users.
  • Possible to build your own with WYSIWYG tools. There are many low-cost software packages designed to allow you to make your own website visually, without much knowledge of HTML. However, if your website is for your business, it would be in your best interest to have it look as professional as possible.

What is a Content Management System?

A CMS is a dynamic website which is designed to be scalable in at least its content, and most often its features. The user is empowered to update content at their leisure and usually without any concern for breaking the website layout as this is usually under tight control of the CMS itself. Frequent updates can be made to web pages, blogs, photo galleries and more. Google’s Blogger is a basic content management system which has no cost to setup and while it is useful for a personal site, it has limited value as a business site. A more advanced system is WordPress which is maturing quickly from initially being a blogging tool to a more fully featured CMS. Drupal is an example of a complete CMS, designed to be fully scalable, adaptive and feature rich.

Disadvantages of a CMS:

  • Greater cost of development. As it takes much more time to develop a database-driven CMS and as it usually requires specific knowledge of a particular CMS, it will require a greater investment. However, like is also likely to result in a greater return on investment (ROI).
  • Learning Curve. To understand how to work with a CMS, you will need to learn how it is structured so you can control menus, naming, categories, etc.
  • Slower bandwidth customers may have a slightly longer wait. Content Management Systems often include more media such as images and dynamic content. This is typically not a concern for most modern countries with high speed access but it should be stated nonetheless.

Advantages of a CMS

  • extensive or full control over the content of your site without the need for knowledge of HTML, CSS or other web languages. Changes can be made at your leisure.
  • Depending on what type of CMS you choose, there can be a wide array of content types to work with beyond just text, such as photos, audio, video.
  • SEO Friendly. Websites which update content on a regular basis gain more of a spotlight from search engines and will often rank higher in search engine results (SER) pages which is an important competitive factor for business websites.