Content Management Systems – What’s the difference from straight HTML & CSS?

When I started out on my own in ARK Squared just over a year ago and doing my networking one of the things I would constantly be hearing from other designers was how they use WordPress or other Content Management Systems (CMS) for making client’s websites – and I didn’t understand why you want to use one.  Now, after having implemented WordPress for many of my own client’s projects I understand!  It did take me a while to really understand the difference and why one can be better than the other.

All the websites that I used to make while growing up or learning about designing through different courses I took all taught just the straight HTML and CSS.  You essentially write the code and then uploaded the files directly to the server.  So you could make whatever design you want, whatever layout you want, with no restrictions but your own imagination and ingenuity.  The huge advantage to this is that you are not restricted by any templates or certain ways that you have to code in order for the chosen CMS to function properly.  You make your template and then publish it.  For a basic website it can be much faster and easier to maintain, or for a very large website it can allow you more freedoms throughout the site.

The downfall of doing all the code yourself/through your designer is when you want to start doing anything interactive.  If you want to do a blog, have an events calendar, do online registrations for an event or even just have a message board the implementation of that can take a lot of time and thus expense, when many of those features are easily incorporated, often as a plug-in, with a CMS such as WordPress.

What a CMS does is give you an online interface that allows you to do updates, additions, blog posts, etc to your website.  It uses an interface not entirely dissimilar to online webmail, think Hotmail or Yahoo for example, to do your editing.  Depending on your CMS, you have the ability to choose from an incredibly large amount of templates that already exist or an experienced designer can design a custom one for you using your company logo, colours, etc.  Interactive items like those mentioned above are also easily integrated into your site as well; much more easily than with a non-CMS website.

So before you decide on how you want your website designed, whether or not you want to use a CMS, think about the different features you want.  I recently heard an analogy used regarding making a web-based product for an organization, building a website is not dissimilar to building a house.  If you don’t make your plan, blue-prints, or hire a good contractor to manage the product you’re doomed to failure before you even get to building your foundation!  So make sure you know what you want, plan it out well and then you should be able to get the end product that’s right for you!  Stay tuned for more information about CMS’s vs. HTML/CSS in the coming weeks!

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This entry was posted by Anna Kouwenberg on Tuesday, October 4th, 2011 at 10:13 am and is filed under Web Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.