You have a new website project, should you build it with a CMS or should you opt for a static HTML site . . . let’s take a look.
What we cover in this post:
- What is a Content Management system
- What a content management system isn’t
- When to use a Content Management System
- Other options to consider
- What we recommend
Not sure what a Content management System is?
A content management system is a tool that allows you to edit the text, images and sometimes other things easily on your website. These are used to allow non-techy web folk the ability to edit website content without having a degree in comic books or web code.
Sounds great doesn’t it, full control over your content and images. But before you sign up let’s take a little bit of a deeper look so you can weigh up if it is the right thing for your project.
What a Content management System isn’t
A content management system should allow you to do simple tasks easily. Such as editing text, swapping out images and adding news items or blog posts. Traditionally speaking this is the majority of what people need the CMS to do for them.
If you had an online store the CMS would allow you to easily edit product details, create new products or any other basic task.
The above should be able to be completed by anyone with a login, with zero chance of breaking anything. The CMS is there to make our lives easier and to save having to pay someone to complete easy, quick tasks.
The rise of the web builder tool . . . this particularly addresses WordPress websites
Over recent years, especially with WordPress there has been a rise in web builder tools, such as Elementor, Divi, WPBakery. These tools really extent what the marketer can do for themselves on their website.
They add extended modules, the ability to build entire pages and configure pretty much anything on the site without the aid of a web developer. These tools provide exceptional functionality and puts all the power in the marketers hands.
There is however, a price to pay . . . to get all this wonderful functionality there are some massive trade offs.
Want your website to be super fast, nimble and Google page score pleasing? Out of the box these web builder tools are pretty bad . . . maybe even terrible.
Because of all the additional fin, goodies that they provide there needs to be a massivle library of code and dependancies, all of which will add bloat to your website and slow everything down.
They can break – you can literally break things . . . and not in a cool way
It’s so easy to ‘go rogue’ with a web builder tool, spending days on end creating sexy landing pages for your latest campaign, adding various colours, images and videos, custom fonts, fancy animations and sprinkles of glitter here and there.
All of a sudden you end up with pages that start going off-brand, random unicorn like effects that you think are amazing and something that doesn’t really match the rest of site.
And what happens when the plugins update? (they will have frequent releases).
Stuff can break, what were perfectly great pages now don’t work, there’s errors that need fixing and compatibility issues with the 20 plugins and extensions that you have added.
All of a sudden you’re in a world of pain of the CMS vs. Web builder trade off.
A content management system should be just that, a simple and easy way to manage your site without the ability to break things in the process. You can still create the pages but in a safer, more locked down way.
Never forget that spending time creating pages, adding the latest pop-ups and CRM integrations is part of marketing, it’s not ‘Marketing’ on it’s own.
When should you use a CMS?
When you need the ability to easily change content, images, and add new pages, blogs and products to your store without the ability to break anything. If you are editing content more than once a week this is an ideal solution.
When should you use a web builder tool?
They have their place, if you don’t have an in-house team, or budget to hire a professional team then you still need to get your stuff done. They work good in the short term but keep in mind that the SEO ranking trade-off can become massive further down the line, you can break things and also your website can get bloated to the point where a granny would beat it in a hundred metre sprint.
When should you use neither – What are your other options?
Static could be best!
You can also add a CMS to just a part of the static site, a nice lightweight system that still allows you to add news and articles. There are some great hybrid systems that you can implement.
Hosted CMS solutions
Wix, Squarespace, Shopify etc etc they will all allow you to build a site quickly, easily and generally at low cost. Excellent for companies starting out, they can really get you to the start line quickly at minimal costs. We’ve seen some terrible examples and some not bad ones.
These would be a good option if you are time rich but money poor or just starting out.
Performance and Search Engine trade offs are massive, not a go to for anyone really serious about their web presence.
Cheap + fast rarely equals Great + Powerful
What do we recommend
Every project is different yet most share common needs. If you desperately need a CMS we would recommend a custom WordPress website build, designed how you want it, the functionality to change content but without the massive overhead of the web builders.
We have created our very own systems which allow us to deliver super fast WordPress sites without removing any of the core functionality.
Not making regular updates? Have a static website with no CMS. There are so many advantages to this option, still the best for speed and performance in our opinion, plus you still have the option of a lightweight system for changing text and images and adding the new articles. Add a simple monthly maintenance plan and you’re all set to go.
The best thing to do with any new website project is to talk everything through with the development team, tell them what you need, what you’d like and what you wish for. This way you can find a solution for your needs rather than a bloated system that you only use 2% of its functionality.
Want to talk through your project? What some free advice – we’re here if you want to reach out and get geeky about CMS systems.