| Web Development

It is something we regularly ask someone wanting a new website - Do you need a CMS? Often we find many people often don't know the pros and cons of having a CMS. People have become accustomed to linking websites and CMS synonymously and assume all websites to be built using a CMS.

In the end, everything comes out as HTML on the frontend. The main difference is how that HTML comes into existence.

What is a CMS?

A content management system, often abbreviated as CMS, is software that supports you in building, managing and modifying the content on a website without needing to deal with the code directly. There are various CMS available to choose from when building a website. WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, Shopify and BigCommerce are amongst the popular choices available today.

What is the opposite of CMS website?

A hardcoded website or non-CMS website is a website that does not use a CMS to manage the content of the website. The content is added or changed by a website developer with coding knowledge. Many developers who choose not to use CMS, code the entire page structure and elements from the ground up. This approach doesn't allow for unused code on a webpage, that would be present on CMS generated webpages.

Advantages of a CMS

The foremost advantage is to a non-technical person being able to update content without coding knowledge. It allows for faster development time, with solutions to many development problems that can come up. A CMS provides a graphical interface to manage the content and webpages, making it easier to locate any required changes. A CMS website gives you the ability to change content after the initial build without in-depth programming knowledge. The site structure can be changed but would require programming knowledge.

Disadvantages of a CMS

A CMS poses a greater security risk unless it is maintained and regularly updated. Though most CMS platforms release updates regularly to combat security risks, CMS's are a challenge for hobbyist hackers, so require regular updates. Hosting companies tend to shut down a website if a security breach impacts other data hosted on the same server.

You have to familiarise yourself with the CMS and ensure you are uploading content properly. Using a CMS without proper understanding can break your website and affect usability. CMS's use more server resources that can slow down a website.

Advantages of a Hardcoded website

When using a CMS, you have various underlying code that isn't necessary for your website that can require updating to ensure its compatible with the latest versions. If you have written clean static HTML code, you rarely need to update code, as at the time of building the site you only make use of code relevant to the website. You can also access the underlying code easier to make specific changes. Having streamlined HTML code makes the website optimised for page loading speed, resulting in a positive effect on SEO.

Disadvantages of a Hardcoded website

The disadvantage for static HTML websites comes when you need to make changes - you need to have coding experience or use a developer. Hardcoded websites can be time-consuming to update, because you may have to replace the same code across multiple files.

Do you need to use a CMS?

If you plan on updating your website often, then a content management system may be a logical choice. There will be a learning curve at the beginning to learn the functionality. You will also need to put a plan in place to ensure that you or your staff are regularly updating the site. Though it may only take a couple of minutes to publish the content, someone has to write, proofread, and resize the images - this takes time. Failure to plan for updates and set aside the resources will often mean that many companies opt for a CMS system but rarely benefit from it.

If you don't plan to update your website often, then a static HTML website will be easier to maintain. A CMS will take a considerable amount of resources for updates, repairs and potential migration to different hosting servers. On the contrary, HTML websites are much easier to migrate to another hosting server. It is also much easier to find someone who can program in HTML than a developer to fix a CMS system should things go wrong.

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