When you’re considering a new web design, it’s likely your web designer will ask if you prefer a content management system, like WordPress, or a static HTML site. Some business owners may not really know the difference. Others will likely have researched the subject on their own, and will have some idea of what type of website they would like to have.
WordPress vs. Static HTML: How do they differ?
The main difference, from a business’s perspective, is that with WordPress, it will be much easier for a business’s staff to make basic updates to the website on their own. With a static HTML site, unless someone on their staff knows at the very least HTML and CSS, they will need to hire a web developer to make even basic changes to their website for them.
Typically what the decision will come down to is: 1. whether a business will want that type of functionality, i.e. to make their own website updates, 2. if they plan to have a blog on their website, and 3. if they have a large site with content that needs to be frequently added or updated. In those cases, WordPress may be the best choice for them. But if they really have no desire or need to do any of those things, then WordPress is usually not the best option.
Now I know there are many WordPress loyalists out there, who believe that WordPress is the best option no matter the scenario, and WordPress is certainly extremely popular (currently powering over 27% of the web as of January 2017), but the truth is, it’s not always the best solution.
In fact, even in the cases I mentioned above, where I said it may be the best choice for a business, I used the words “may be” for a reason.
Does Your Company Definitely Need a WordPress Web Design?
What I sometimes notice as a web designer / developer is that businesses say they want to be able to make updates on their own, but when it comes down to it, they don’t really have the time to do so, or they become frustrated by the WordPress platform itself, and they end up calling on a web designer to do the updates for them anyway. This is often the case with companies that have smaller staffs, or when their staff members are too divided in trying to keep up with these additional duties.
The same goes for having a blog on their website. Sometimes businesses think they want a blog; they think they or their staff will have time to blog on a regular basis, but what they end up finding out is they really don’t have the time. Maybe they do it for a month or two, and then everyone gets tied up again with running the business.
A blog is a great element for your website, and it can certainly help with your website traffic and overall search engine optimization (SEO). But if all you really want and need is a brochure website, then a blog is not a necessity.
And if you’re unsure if you need blogging capabilities now, or if your business can’t handle a blog now, a separate blog can always be added later on down the line.
However, if you’re absolutely sure that the business will be using the WordPress functionality on a regular basis, then WordPress is a good choice.
Benefits of a WordPress Website
Other instances where WordPress is a good choice is when businesses need a content management system in general; for instance, businesses that have a lot of inventory, where inventory is added regularly, or where there are frequent changes, or if your website has a large amount of pages, or even stores that have multiple products, or restaurants that change their menu frequently. It’s also great for online magazines and news sites.
Many major news websites, like CNN, TIME.com, USA Today, New York Observer, NBC, New York Post and more use WordPress.
WordPress currently has 50-60% of the share of the global CMS market, making it the world’s most popular content management system.
So WordPress is a great open-source content management system, and it goes without saying that there are quite a few businesses that do benefit from using it.
But like anything else, WordPress also has its problems and its vulnerabilities, which is why you should make sure, before you move forward with it, that it is the functionality you really want and need.
How Do I Know if WordPress Is What My Business Truly Needs?
I’d like to say that your website designer or web design firm will be able to help you make this decision, but that’s not always the case. There are some web designers, who will push WordPress on you, because they don’t know scripting and programming languages very well, and they wouldn’t be able to give you any other type of site.
To find out if your web designer or web design firm is just pushing WordPress on you, you may want to ask them to see samples of their static HTML sites. Every web designer, who has studied and learned website design and development, has made static HTML sites, and likely continues to make them to this day.
Remember, though WordPress powers 27% of the web, it still only powers 27% of the web. When HTML5 came into being, it added loads of functionality and possibility to static HTML sites. PHP and other coding languages can also be combined to add even more functionality. But if your web designer only has WordPress websites in their portfolio, or if they claim only to do WordPress websites, it may be (though not always) because they don’t really know that much about coding.
They may be a decent designer despite this. But the problem is they could also be advising you incorrectly.
When Is a Static HTML Web Design the Best Choice?
So when and why might a static HTML site be a better choice for your business? Here are some instances:
When security is of utmost importance, and you don’t have the budget for ongoing maintenance, a static HTML site might be a better bet. WordPress, with all its benefits, is still a somewhat vulnerable system, and it’s often a target of hackers. Most businesses don’t regularly update their WordPress versions or their plugins, and this can leave them open to hackers.
There are ways to offset this, of course – with better and more secure hosting (such as Managed WordPress Hosting), adding an SSL certificate, and by giving WordPress its own directory. But because of its inherent vulnerabilities, WordPress also needs to be properly updated and maintained to avoid issues.
If your company doesn’t have it’s own web design team, continuing on with a web designer or web design firm for maintenance purposes may help as well. If your web design firm hosts your site, they will likely have a package available to you, where they include these updates and the scheduled/necessary maintenance as well. And even if they don’t host your website, they will likely be able to put a plan in place for you to update and maintain your website for you.
Another area where a static HTML website fares stronger is in speed; a static HTML website will almost always be faster than a WordPress website, because WordPress is always running, and as such it uses more resources than a static HTML site will.
The amount of non-utilized code in a typical WordPress theme will also slow it down. If the redundant code is dynamic, caching plugins won’t help much in speeding it up. If you don’t need the dynamic aspects of a WordPress website, a static HTML site will typically load much faster, and loading time does matter in regards to user experience and SEO.
But I Know I Need a WordPress Website
If you know you want the WordPress functionality, and you know that a static HTML website is not right for you, and if you have the budget, consider hiring a web design firm that can truly give you a custom developed WordPress website.
A custom WordPress website won’t contain the unnecessary bulk that your typical purchased WordPress theme will have, it will be custom designed and developed to contain only the items your site needs.
When this approach is taken, you’ll also be less reliant on WordPress plugins, because your web developer will also code in the functionality that’s necessary for your site.
Too Many WordPress Plugins Can Sink Your Website
WordPress plugins can slow down your website quite a bit, some may also be incompatible with other plugins, and/or with various themes. Unfortunately you may not be aware of this until after you install them, and if there are issues, they can break the site. Not all plugins are updated by their developers regularly either, and they may contain vulnerabilities that also make your site a target for hackers.
That’s not to say that all WordPress plugins are bad. Some are quite good, but in general, for your website to have the best performance, you will want to rely as little as possible on WordPress plugins.
Although a truly custom WordPress website will be more costly, if your company has the budget, it is well worth the cost.
If you can’t afford the higher end custom development, then talk to your web designer and ensure they’re utilizing a quality theme or framework for your website.
In our Austin office, we offer various options to work within a company’s budget.
So as you can see, when considering what type of web design and development your company needs, there are definite Pros and Cons to having a WordPress website and having a static HTML site. Making sure you’re getting the best solution for your business is important.
Since a website design is an investment for any company, you’ll want to ensure you’re getting the right type. If you’re in need of more guidance and web design firms to work with, give our Austin web design firm a call. We’ll be happy to help you figure out the best solution for your business.