Do I Really Need a CMS for My New Website?
There are many opportunities available today for those seeking to build a website. From the old tried-and-true method of developing a website completely from scratch using HTML, to drag-and-drop website builders, to website design applications, to intuitive content management systems (CMS), it can be difficult to determine which option is the most viable.
All methods of website design and development have their pros and cons and may be more suitable than another depending on your needs. Understanding the differences between the various website-building platforms can enable you to make an informed decision, as well as determine whether or not you really need a CMS. With 75 million websites currently using the popular and intuitive WordPress CMS, it’s definitely an important consideration.
In addition to simply using HTML, there are several types of “platforms” that facilitate website design and development. These include:
Drag-and-Drop Web Builders
Also known as template web builders, you’ve probably seen plenty of commercials for these on television or ads appearing on search engines. They present you with a seemingly easy option for quickly creating attractive websites, and indeed, they do deliver what they promise. However, they are most ideally suited for sites that might only be a few pages, as further customization for much larger sites can be more difficult. Additionally, for many of these sites to be noticed by major search engines, you will likely need to purchase digital marketing services through the platform.
Static Website Builders
More advanced than drag-and-drop template platforms, yet not as advanced as a CMS, static website builders are a combination of both. Available as applications such as Adobe Go Live or a platform such as GitHub Pages, these essentially work as drag-and-drop templates, yet with much more advanced features and design capabilities. You could essentially utilize a static website builder to create and design large-scale websites with a host of plug-ins, features, and functionality, but the task could be time-consuming and requires a bit of a learning curve.
You don’t need to know HTML, though it may be useful. On web page templates provided by the builder or those you have created yourself, you insert text, pictures, tables, forms, videos and many other elements of a website. The builder converts each page into an HTML file that is uploaded and published to the server.
Although it is a fairly simple process to make small changes to the site, such as updating the text on a single page, large-scale changes can be very tedious and time-consuming. Subsequently, static website builders are more ideally suited for websites that won’t be changed very often.
Content Management Systems
And then you have CMS platforms such as WordPress, which offer seemingly endless amounts of customization tools, plug-ins for advanced features, and tools to increase user functionality, monitoring, and maintenance. For websites both large and small, you really can’t go wrong using a CMS, as they enable you to easily make changes or grow your website with ease as needed. Although it may take an initial bit of time to get the hang of using a CMS, once you do, it’s fairly easy and intuitive.
The Pros and Cons of Using CMS for Your Site
Although there are certainly plenty of other CMS platforms to choose from besides WordPress, such as Drupal or SilverStripe, WordPress is easily the most popular and utilized. This can be attributed to the fact that it appears to be the easiest to use, requiring little or no knowledge of website programming or HTML coding, and you can quickly get a small site started in a day (or even just a few hours if you learn quickly and know exactly what you want).
Additionally, if you can’t figure something out for yourself, there is a huge community that can answer any questions for you or solve problems you may be experiencing.
And lastly, the thousands upon thousands of plug-ins that are available for a WordPress website make it easy for your basic website to quickly be transformed into an advanced, intuitive, highly functional website for very little cost (or even free, depending upon which plug-ins you use).
On the downside, a multitude of plug-ins can cause your website to run a bit slower, whereas the functionality using HTML coding won’t necessarily interfere with a website’s performance. It is also very important to note that if you plan to act as an e-commerce site, selling products on the Web and accepting payments, you need to ensure proper security. WordPress and some other CMS platforms are more vulnerable to hackers and malware, and while there is a multitude of security tools and plug-ins you can take advantage of, a static website might fare better for keeping sensitive information protected.
All that being said, deciding whether or not you need a CMS really depends on what you expect from your website both now and in the future. If you expect a lot of growth in the business, and subsequently on the website, you would do well to opt for a CMS that allows for easy expansion. If you are simply creating a website to showcase a portfolio, a drag-and-drop template platform is likely the better choice. Consider these questions before making your choice, and you’ll be better able to properly pick that platform that best suits your needs.