HTML Web Design vs CMS

HTML Web Design vs CMS, which is best for small business websites?

Choosing between HTML and a content management system (CMS) to design and maintain a business website can be a difficult choice for new start-up companies. HTML is generally considered to be the traditional method for designing a website. The coding language is the backbone of webpages, and the structure, content and design of a website comprises of hundreds of line of HTML code. A CMS is a server-side software platform powered by a database. All website data and information is stored in this database, rather than using webpages. The CMS automatically creates the main structure and design (as well as the tricky HTML) of a website. A CMS provides a user friendly, browser-based interface so new content can be easily created and website configurations can be changed. The two approaches to web design are radically different, and they both bring advantages and disadvantages that new small business websites need to consider.

Technical Know-How

HTML Web Design vs CMSCreating a HTML website from scratch is not an easy task. Even with HTML visual editor software such as Adobe Dreamweaver, those with no coding knowledge or experience will struggle to create a well formatted, structured website. New businesses will either need an employee with HTML skills or they will have to hire a third-party web developer. A business who requires a large online catalogue of products or e-commerce functionality will need a programmer who is confident using the likes of CSS, PHP and MYSQL. A CMS, on the other hand, requires no coding knowledge whatsoever. It does help to be a little tech-savvy, but anyone who regularly browses the Internet will be able to quickly get to grips with a CMS like Joomla or WordPress. There’s hundreds of easy-to-follow instruction guides and support forums, and some web hosts even have a CMS platform pre-installed on all domains.

Getting Something Up And Running

Coding a new business website using HTML is a time-consuming process. Creating an aesthetically pleasing website requires graphic design skills, and adding content and linking pages is a tricky, arduous task. Even creating a basic, ‘place holder’ website for a new business with HTML can be difficult without knowing the basics. A new business eager to start building up their online profile should be prepared for a lengthy wait if they are insisting on using HTML. Even hiring a professional web developer can take time as it can be a stop-start collaborative process. Using a CMS, businesses can get a website up within minutes. The entire theme and design of a website can be changed in just a few clicks and publishing new content is as easy as clicking a big button titled ‘Publish’. CMS are developed to have user-friendly interfaces similar to word processing software.


As HTML is the backbone of nearly every webpage on the Internet, it has unlimited customisation options. If a small business has a very specific idea of what their website should look like, they will be able to achieve the design using HTML. Likewise, features like a flash splash page or a mobile website can be achieved using HTML and other coding languages like PHP and jQuery. Although a CMS will have thousands of different themes and plugins, users will be restricted by what is available to them. Although they may find a plugin to suit their needs or a customisable theme which is similar to what they were looking for, small businesses may find that their finished website is just a little bit different from what they were hoping.

Speedy Updating

WordPress is currently one of the most popular CMS platforms and it was originally developed as a tool for blogging. Its main function was to provide an easy and fast way for users to write and publish new content on websites. Of course, the functionality of WordPress has grown significantly and it is now used to power millions of very different personal and small business websites, but it shares the key principle of creating fast content with the majority of other CMS platforms. The main function of a CMS is to have complete control over creating, modifying and publishing content. Small business websites powered by a CMS can expect to be able to update their website whenever they please using the simple interface. Coding with HTML is almost the polar opposite. New content has to be written in HTML and, although CSS takes care of the structure and formatting, it is a job that requires a web developer. Businesses using HTML will have to forward new content to their developer and wait for it to go live but with a CMS they can take care of all content creation and publishing.

SEO For Small Business

HTML vs CMSSEO for small business is perhaps the deciding factor in how well a new small business website operates. Effective SEO increases the visibility of a website in search engine results and rankings, and it is the key to attracting new visitors and boosting traffic. Most CMS platforms come prepared with out of the box SEO functionality. Users who are new to SEO will eventually be able to get to grips with the importance of concepts like permalinks and title descriptions, but SEO plugins can be used to automatically take care of the optimisation process. Using HTML, SEO can be completely hand-crafted. A developer experienced with SEO will be able to code effective optimisation methods when they are writing the entire website from scratch. A website created with HTML may have better SEO than a similar website which uses CMS, but really the effectiveness of the optimisation lays with the person designing the website. An effective SEO developer will be able to achieve the same results using a CMS as HTML, but a person new to website design may not.

There really is no right or wrong choice when small businesses make the decision to choose between HTML or CMS for their new website. Both web design choices have their advantages and disadvantages, and what may be right for one small business may be inappropriate for another. New businesses are advised to discuss their short and long-term goals for their online presence with a web developer so they can come to the right solution for their new website.

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