Website Design March 13th, 2013
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) has long been the standard for website design. The powerful programming language forms the building blocks of all webpages, and it is used to code the structure, content and design of websites. Although a Content Management System (CMS) still uses HTML, the software platform is a much more streamlined and automated way to create and edit website content. A CMS provides users with an interface so they can easily create, publish and edit website content without having to code in HTML. HTML and CMS are very different methods of web design, and new start-up companies should carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of both practices before choosing one to create their new small business websites.
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Using a CMS, businesses can launch a new website in a matter of minutes. The server-side installation typically only requires the user to copy an installation package to their new website directory and the CMS takes care of the rest. Some web hosts even have the most popular CMS platforms, such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, pre-installed and ready to use. Once a CMS is installed, small business websites can immediately start adding content and customising their design. Although coding in HTML technically does not require an installation, webpages, images and graphics all need to be created and organised properly in the server’s web directory. This takes time and requires someone experienced with HTML.
Not only is the installation of a CMS quick and hassle free, but the software interface is user friendly and requires almost no training or technical knowledge. Many CMS platforms have been developed with easy website content creation and publishing in mind, and their graphical user interfaces (GUI) are similar to word processing software. Creating new content for a website with HTML, however, requires numerous lines of code, tags and parameters. Adding something as simple as an image or paragraph of text to a webpage requires extensive HTML knowledge and experience.
There are thousands of design themes available for some of the most popular CMS platforms, and in just a few clicks users can completely transform the look of their website. The beauty of CMS themes and plugins is that users can make changes to their entire website simply by loading a new theme. The structure and content will remain the same, but the headers, colours and other graphic elements can all be changed. However, coding with HTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) gives users unparalleled control over the design of a website. Users might find a CMS theme that is close to the design they have in mind, but with HTML they can be assured that their exact aesthetic and design specifications can be met.
One of the main benefits of using a CMS for a small business website is that all employees can contribute to creating and publishing content. Authorised users simply need to login to the CMS to write a new article or product description and it will appear within seconds on the website. If managers want to have a final approval of all drafts, employees can submit content to be approved and the manager will see it ‘pending’ when they next login as an admin. The manager can then make changes if necessary and publish the content on the website. If a business is relying on a web developer to maintain the HTML of their website, employees will have to send new content to the developer so that they and code it and upload it to the server. This can be a lengthy process and lacks the immediacy and simplicity of a CMS.
HTML has much better SEO for small business potential. Effective HTML coders are able to fully optimize a website from scratch so it can better perform in search engine rankings. Although new websites created with a CMS will still have effective SEO functionality, new businesses unfamiliar with the concept will not fare as well as a HTML web developer who knows every method and technique for optimizing a website.
Although CMS has become an increasingly popular solution for website design, many websites still start out as a few lines of HTML code. New start-up companies looking to create a website are advised to sit down with an experienced web developer to discuss what approach is most appropriate for their business.