Creation of websites for clients HTML or CMS

HTML or Content Management System?

From time to time someone asks whether a simple website could not be better created with pure HTML instead of a content management system (CMS). Wouldn't it be cheaper and more flexible to forego the overhead of a CMS and create simple Internet presences with 10 or 20 pages directly with HTML and CSS?

If the pages are carefully provided with a meta description (the descriptive text for the search engines) and title tag (headline for the search engine entry), they meet the search engines, offer short loading times and a fast display on the monitor - and that especially on mobile devices.

Pure HTML pages put less load on the server, backup is easier, a move to a new web space is copy and paste and their graphic design is not subject to any limits.

Websites with Dreamweaver and Server Side Includes

A simple program editor such as Adobe Brackets is sufficient to create a complete HTML page with all the elements. Add an FTP program and we have a simple but complete development environment.

Of course, only programmers get by with such spartan tools. The user without many years of experience with HTML, CSS and Javascript will find it easier to handle HTML pages with Adobe Dreamweaver or Server Side Includes.

With Dreamweaver the user works under a graphical interface. Dreamweaver creates templates that keep all fixed design elements such as logo, header, navigation and footer consistent across all HTML pages.

The Dreamweaver editor frees the user from dealing with HTML and CSS. Dreamweaver can even create simple animations with Javascript with just a few clicks and without any programming knowledge.

Dreamweaver

With Adobe Dreamweaver web designers construct HTML pages under a graphical surface. The technology - HTML, PHP, Javascript and CSS - remains hidden under the Graphical User Interface (GUI). New text and images can only be changed from within Dreamweaver. Instead of learning HTML, CSS, and Javascript, the user learns Dreamweaver.

Server side includes

The solid, long-serving technology of "Server Site Includes" manages extensive Internet sites with 100 or more pages. The regions of the web design, which are represented in all websites, are outsourced to external files and adopted in all HTML documents. This keeps the design consistent across all pages. When changing the design or the navigation, only one server-side include file needs to be touched.

Users without good HTML and CSS knowledge need a graphical editor (e.g. Gutenberg for WordPress or Drupal) to make changes to the pages and to the design of elements.

Server side includes

Server site includes also generate templates: The fixed design elements of the pages are outsourced to external files that are integrated into each page.

Server side includes are commands that are inserted into the HTML code and are already executed on the server. In web design, they are used in a similar way to the former HTML frames and read in fragments of the website - the header, the footer and sidebars. Unlike frames, however, the website is already compiled on the web server with server side includes, so that the browser only reads a single HTML page and not three, four or five frames. This avoids all of the disadvantages, due to which frames are no longer used in websites today as out of date.

With both Dreamweaver and Server Site Includes, a web designer has to create the layout of the web pages.

Websites with Dreamweaver

All files on the website are on the user's computer and can only be changed from this workstation.

The Dreamweaver variant requires the user to learn Dreamweaver. The administrative effort is by no means less than with a content management system.

Websites with server side includes

A graphical editor must be installed for HTML pages with server side includes. With a small Internet presence, the administrative effort remains manageable.

All files can be edited from any workstation, but management is only based on the folder structure.

Manage HTML pages

An HTML page consists not only of the HTML document, but of images, CSS and JavaScript files. For websites with SSI, the fixed elements of the web design (logo, navigation, footer) are in external files with the extensioninc.

For websites with Adobe Dreamweaver, Dreamweaver manages the documents on a local computer. In the case of websites based on SSI, the user takes over the handling with the help of his FTP program and the folder structure on the server.

Search and contact form in HTML files

A program (usually a PHP or CGI program) must be on the server for a search function. The pages must be re-indexed after each change. As an alternative, a Google search could be integrated into the HTML pages, but this quickly creates an unprofessional impression.

The contact form can also only be implemented properly using a server-side program.

No automatic navigation

If the pages are to show current posts on the start page as a teaser - similar to the blogs of the content management systems, the handling of the files becomes complicated and requires strict discipline. As soon as it comes to maintaining the website, the content management system has an advantage over simple HTML pages.

Where HTML pages make sense

Static HTML pages are a good solution when the layout of the pages is extremely simple and there are few pages that are rarely changed.

Pros and cons of the HTML page

+ 

Higher security against hackers, easy moving of the HTML pages to another server (but how often does a website actually move to another server?).

- 

No search, no contact form, no automatic navigation

CMS is simpler than the simplest HTML page

To put it bluntly: An Internet presence with more than a dozen pages is better off in a CMS: Content management systems are available free of charge as open source, their installation takes little more than 30 minutes, there are numerous free design Templates and the adaptation of the templates to your own ideas hardly require more time than creating HTML templates.

Content management systems have a search function, provide a simple contact form, manage the media of the website and automatically generate a navigation menu that reaches all pages.

External sources

  • WordPress is by far the most used content management system worldwide.
  • Joomla is very popular with web designers because its template system is very flexible.
  • Drupal also accommodates websites with a flexible template system. The big plus point of Drupal are "content types" that map business processes and services.