To Use or Not to Use a CMS

Articles March 12, 2012

As web designers, we all are aware of the importance of CMSs. Simply put, a CMS helps in managing the website in an efficient manner. If you are running a photo gallery, a blog, a news site or any similar website that requires constant updates, nothing beats the ease which a CMS such as WordPress or Drupal can offer you!
 
Therefore, modern day CMSs have made the otherwise-mundane task of running a website very simple. To quote from Typo3:
 

“If you can use a computer, you can manage the content for your website.”

 
However, oftentimes, in our bid to employ CMSs for website management, chances are that we might end up over-doing the use of CMSs. In this article, we discuss when to use, and when not to use a CMS.
 

When Should You Use a CMS?

 


Image from vi.sualize.us.

 
To begin with, if you are running a blog or a gallery, don’t bother reading any further. You NEED a CMS, period. Similarly, if your website needs to be updated regularly and/or is run by a group of users, a CMS might suit your purpose.
 
Using a CMS also ensures that you save your time (and eventually, efforts). You no longer need to hard-code your website in HTML or CSS – the CMS takes care of everything. Just install it, and you are presented with a neat administration panel that lets you tweak, modify and run your website in the manner you deem fit. Furthermore, with the availability of numerous themes, templates as well as plugins/extensions, a CMS can be made to accomplish virtually any task when it comes to web design.
 
Using a CMS for clients also makes sense – not all of us are gifted with tech-savvy clients all the time, and more often than not, most clients will have a hard time figuring their way out with hard-coded sites sans CMS.
 
CMSs also offer excellent editorial control over your content, and better user management for your website.
 
Lastly, many CMSs provide SEO out-of-the-box. Of course, you can always ensure that your hand-crafted HTML pages conform to SEO norms and beat even the most search-engine friendly CMS out there! However, CMSs again save time in this aspect – you do not need to worry much about SEO. At the most, you’ll just have to tweak a few settings initially.
 

When Shouldn’t You Use a CMS?

 
or
 

When Should You Hard-Code Your Website?

 


Image by Loren Zemlicka on Flickr.

 
Generally, manually designing your website’s pages should be considered as an option for static websites with few pages that are rarely updated. You can add personality to your website, and you are limited only by your creativity — in other words, you need not be bound by a CMS.
 
When you decide to write extensive code for your website, you can pay attention to every minute detail – a blessing for small websites (and a curse for larger ones, pun unintended). Since you are no longer restricted by platform-specific limitations, you can design and craft individual components of the website manually.
 
Another point to consider should be security. Most CMSs release new updates/fixes/patches on a regular basis; however, on a generalized level, a CMS invites more hackers than a hard-coded website.
 
Most importantly, hard-coding your website, though time-consuming initially, also brings down the time and efforts required in maintenance of the website in the long run – there are no CMSs to update or plugins to uninstall. You design your pages, you publish them, and you drink coffee!
 

So, the Verdict is…

 


Image by walknboston on Flickr.

 
Well, to be honest, the answer to this question is simple – it depends on your needs!
 
As stated above, if your website has dynamic content, a CMS will be mandatory in most cases. If, however, you’re running a site with mostly static pages that are not updated very frequently, you can definitely consider coding the website yourself and thereby saving the recurring efforts required in running a CMS.

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Sufyan bin Uzayr is a 21-year old freelance writer, graphic artist, programmer and photographer based in India. He writes for several print magazines as well as technology blogs. His prime areas of interest include open source, mobile development, web CMS and vector art. He is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of an e-journal named Brave New World. You can visit his website or friend him on Facebook and Google+.

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  • Fred

    What is the pun here?

  • adamrafferty

    This is the most intelligent article I have read on this so far. I am a php / html dog and been debating whether to use WordPress or not….my site is stating, 25 pages or so….and static it will stay!

    Thank you for cutting through the bs.