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Static HTML Web Pages vs. Content Management Systems

Website Design ranges from simple HTML coded 'static' pages to database driven dynamic CMS portals. Early on in web development, just about all sites were created using static html to generate words and images on a page that you access over the internet. Today, many websites are created using a database driven CMS or Content Management System.

Here's the bottom line in plain English...

Static HTML coded web page.
HTML Coded Web Page

A static website is coded and written in HTML all at once, such as the example on the right, and when you click a link that page is rendered for you to see on the world wide web. So if you were to send me some words and pictures and I code them into a web page you can view on the internet, that would be a 'static' html page.

This works well for small 'brochure' style mini-sites and sites that plan to stay unchanged for long periods of time. The downside is, you will be required to manually code the page to change any of the content inside, or use special editing software to do so. Also, changes to the look and layout would require you to work within the single page of code to find and make changes to the overall design of the page. In addition, you would be required to make the same changes on each and every page within the website if you wanted to update a menu item or content that resides on every page. This can get expensive if you pay to have this done on an hourly basis by a professional. If you plan to maintain the website yourself, look at investing in expensive software such as Adobe Dreamweaver or Microsoft Expressions or learning how to code html by hand (learning a new language is what it boils down to). The end result is very limited in what you can do with a static html website, but it still holds it's place in the world for short, quick pages that need to be published to the web.

Today most website pages are dynamic, in that they seperate content from presentation and layout. Meaning, the look and feel of a page is seperated from the menu, words and images used on each page. The look and layout is controlled by the front end template that you see on the web, and the words and images are inserted by a database at the time the page is rendered on the internet. This is how Content Management Systems (CMS) work and also how Forum and Blog software work as well. This is great for quick and easy updates to the content, as well as organizing and collecting input and data from your site visitors.

CMS text editor used on this article.
CMS Text Editor

A Content Management System is a huge advantage if you plan to grow your website over time, intend to add functionality such as a photo gallery or e-commerce shopping cart, or if you make updates to your content on a regular basis. With a CMS, you get to create articles or pages, without any coding knowledge, using a text editor like the one pictured on the left. If you can write an email, you can create and publish a web page using CMS software. In addition, you might decide you want a new look or feel to your pages, or even a small section of your site. This can easily be done with a new template that updates your entire website at once.

Roberts Web Design offers simple static html website design and updates for clients, but we feel it has a limited place in today's growing online business community. This is a very important decision process when you are looking to create or update your website. Static HTML websites may have a lower initial cost than a CMS, but the cost of maintenance and updates to a static site can make it far more expensive overall.