Web Sites

From a website management perspective websites come in two general forms.  Those governed by a Content Management System, and, well, those that are not.   Each type of website can provide remarkably varied and rich content.  The real difference is in the way they are managed

Content Management Systems

The chances are that your ISP will have provided a simple website that is managed by a content management system.  This site, for example, uses Google Sites basic CMS.  The real advantage of using it is that it is easy to update, is more sophisticated than many that are supplied free by ISPs, and it can leverage Googles other services.  Other CMSs, such as the free Joomla and Drupal CMSs are highly customisable and have a large range of extensions to meet your requirements.  All CMSs require a server side scripting language and a server side database.

The advantages of using a content management system are that:
  • once set up changes are made within the CMS. No additional software is required.
  • it is relatively easy to add and change content.
  • a lot of website functionality can be had quite quickly and relatively cheaply.
  • functionality can be added to the website by adding and configuring extensions.
  • It is easy to quickly change the look and feel of the site.
  • most, if not all, the setup and configuration can be done without the help of a specialist website designer.
The limitations are:
  • the look and feel of the website is limited by the how customisable the CMS framework is.
  • functionality is usually limited to the extensions that are available. If you want additional functionality you may need to hire a web programmer who is familiar with the CMS framework.

Static Web Sites and Custom Designed Websites

Static web sites do not require server side scripting or a back end database.   Web pages are created using a web authoring program that could be as simple as a text editor, or as sophisticated as Adobe's Dreamweaver.   The completed web pages are uploaded to the web site when they are complete.   The design of static web sites are only constrained by the skills of the website designer.  More sophisticated sites can add customised database back ends and server side scripting.  Apart from the most simple sites, it usually pays to hire a professional website designer to create your website.

The advantages of using static web sites are:
  • the design is not limited the to the constraints of a CMS.
  • eye catching techniques such as flash animations can be added.
  • sophisticated web authoring software allows the website to be created and tested off line, and will automatically update the live system when you want it updated.
The limitations are:
  • It can be much more expensive as it is highly recommended that a professional website designer is employed.
  • updates are usually done with web authoring software, so cannot be done remotely.