One question frequently asked by potential website owners is “How should I build my site?”. Thanks to health advances in web technologies, users today are spoilt for choice. With its long history, the Internet is a mix and match of old and new solutions co-existing in harmony – so how do you choose?
Two of the most popular solutions today are WordPress and HyperText Markup Language (HTML). Since the first web page was launched in 1991, HTML has played a significant part in the timeline of the world wide web. Through the period of almost three decades, it has survived while undergoing a handful of major iterations.
WordPress is comparatively newer and was first seen in the early 2000s. However, it’s power and flexibility has led it to stellar heights. Today over 30% of the entire web is built using this remarkable Content Management System (CMS).
Difference Between WordPress and Static HTML
|Can be used with no coding skills||Knowledge of HTML required|
|Quick build and deploy||Longer time needed to code and deploy|
|Built to handle dynamic content||Mostly fixed design|
|Requires PHP and MySQL/MariaDB||No prerequisites|
|Moderately resource intensive||Can be built light|
|Plugins may have recurring fees||Potentially cheaper maintenance|
|Sites easily adaptable for mobile||Moderately complex mobile adaptation|
Just because they work in different ways does mean that sites built in WordPress and HTML will look unalike. The means doesn’t reflect the end product and it’s entirely possible to code a static HTML site to look like a WordPress site.
It is in the way they are used to build sites that any similarities come to a rapid and cruising end. HTML is a scripting language, which means the user needs to combine instructions and resources together in a way that produces an outcome. This requires knowledge of HTML syntax and relatively long production times.
WordPress on the other hand is a CMS – a web-based application. It is pre-built to facilitate its core function of helping users handle content easily and quickly. This design reduces requirements for technical competency and puts the focus on meeting user needs instead.
What Is a Content Management System? Do you really need it?
As the name implies, CMS are designed to help users manage content. In essence, they are fundamentally different compared to scripting languages. Think of the latter as you would raw materials. In order to be useful, you would need knowledge of what the ingredients were and how they would best be used to produce what you want.
Comparatively, the CMS would be one level higher. They are designed to let users easily deploy a platform, reducing focus on the building of the site itself. The platform serves as a conduit for the users’ content. That is the key focus of the CMS.
If your intention in building a website is to continually publish updated content and do a few website adjustments now and then – a CMS is the ideal solution for you.
WordPress advantages and disadvantages
Because it is highly purpose built, CMS has a strong main focus. At the same time, it’s modularity makes it suitable for a wide range of needs as well. This is part of what makes it so widely adopted.
Pros of Using WordPress
No Cost – WordPress itself is free to use. If you want to build and run a WordPress site, costs incurred will mostly be web hosting related, not for the CMS itself.
Flexibility – The core WordPress system is built to help you handle content. Thanks to its modular plugin system, functionality can be extended easily and with very few restrictions.
Ease of Use – Since the application is pre-coded for you, all you need is some time to install WordPress then familiarize yourself with its features and interface. It’s like learning to use a new car, or playing a new game – many things are intuitive and just need familiarization.
Fast Deployment – Since there’s no coding needed, building and deploying a WordPress site can be done in a matter of minutes. Of course, modifying the site to your liking can take a bit more time, but that really depends on your needs.
Widespread Availability – As its popularity skyrockets, it’s very easy to find web hosts offering WordPress plans. ScalaHosting has even developed custom tools such as the SWordPress Manager to assist WordPress users.
Cons of Using WordPress
Resource Intensive – WordPress at the very least needs PHP and a database to run. This means it needs more hosting resources – processing power and memory – to work well. As you add more features, the installation will grow bulkier and potentially bog down performance.
Potentially Costly – Although WordPress is free, not all of its plugins are. If you make use of many premium plugins, your operational cost may balloon on a recurring basis.
Vulnerabilities – As with any pre-built applications, WordPress has had its share of security vulnerabilities. This makes it slightly more risky compared to hard coding your own site.
Pros and Cons of a Static HTML Website
There is a reason why HTML has survived for so long. As a scripting language, it has strong fundamentals and can be used to build and deploy extremely stable websites. This makes it especially desirable for those who have limited need of continually updating content.
Advantages of Static HTML Websites
- Fast Speeds – With coding only for what you need, HTML sites can be very lean and highly optimized for performance. They are also not technically reliant on other resources so elements like wait and processing time are not significantly impacted.
- More Reliable – The rationale behind this is that anything with moving parts will eventually suffer a part failure. Static HTML websites have very few moving parts and hence are mostly highly stable.
- Operational Cost – With its lower resource consumption, static websites can be cheap to operate over longer periods of time. Web hosting fees increase depending on the amount of resources required and static sites typically don’t grow resource consumption aggressively.
Disadvantages of Static HTML Websites
- Difficult to Update Content – Since everything in HTML sites are hard-coded into the structure, making any content updates means having to dive back into the code. This can be complex to handle if the site development is outsourced.
- Costly Initial Development – For those who outsource their sites, cost of development can be significant depending on the requirements you put forth. It also requires investment in time to manage the project with the development team.
- Slower to Build – Hand-typing lines of code simply takes time, even if you know what you’re doing. Once that’s done, the code has to be tested, debugged, and refined – a repetitive process until completion.
Using WordPress as a Static Website Generator?
Technically, WordPress can be used to generate what is considered a static website – one which does minimal content updates and has a fixed structure. However, this does not really make sense to do unless you wish to avoid the complexities of initial development.
In the long term, the use of WordPress in this manner is disadvantageous since users will have to put up with the higher resource overhead and maintenance that WordPress natively suffers from.
WordPress vs Static Website?
As you can likely tell by now, WordPress and Static HTML websites aren’t really comparable. While they each have their pros and cons, the more important element is user intent.
What do you want to do with your website? If you want a website offering frequently updated content and can deliver specific content based on complex requests – WordPress is the solution for you. For those who want to build a site for a web presence and simply forget it’s there – then a static HTML site would be a better idea.
Having gone through the process of learning to code and then moving into the era of dynamic content and useful web applications, I’ve been exposed to both sides of the coin. Ultimately, there is a lot to weigh between WordPress and HTML.
However, as a believer in strong fundamentals, the best solution world is a combination of both. Using WordPress and having the coding capabilities to fine-tune functionality would be a great idea – if you have the will to trod this path.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is WordPress free?
WordPress is a free and open source web application. There are no fees associated with the core product. However, using it requires a web hosting plan (and usually domain name too), which will typically incur fees.
Is WordPress good for beginners?
Offering the possibility to build and launch a site with no coding skills necessary, WordPress is highly suitable for beginners. Functionality can be added on easily as well with the use of plugins.
Why is WordPress so popular?
Most of the popularity with WordPress stems from its ease of use. However, today’s web is also heavily content-dependent and many new site owners frequently create more content to share on a regular basis.
Who is WordPress owned by?
The parent company that owns WordPress is Automattic Inc., a San Francisco-based distributed company. It is the company behind WordPress.com, the commercial version of WordPress that comes pre-packaged with web hosting services.