Archive for category Website Basics

Static Site vs CMS

I was speaking to a friend yesterday who wondered which was best: a static site or one based on a CMS (e.g. WordPress, Joomla or Drupal).

The real answer is that there is no “best”, there is only the best fit.

Look at your business. Is it something that a) needs constant updates to the content of your website and b) will have you excited enough to write constant updates?

Let’s say you’re a carpet cleaner. Does your area warrant anything more than a simple static site which gives your customers the information they need to pick up the phone and call you? It’s unlikely. You get the business anyway.

But now let’s say you make pottery. It starts to makes sense to have an easy way to add each new creation to your site without having to bother with writing HTML. Without having to FTP. Without having to manually update links between pages. That’s where a CMS comes into play to make your life easier. People need to know the new pot has been made before they can buy it.

Content Management Systems allow people without web skills to update and change the content of a website. So if you can use a word processor, you can use a CMS.

They’re quick to install. They have a wide variety of plug-ins available for everything from Twitter feeds to shopping carts to quote-of-the-day engines. And best of all, many of them are free.

When should you consider a CMS based website?
1) Your business is dynamic (life coaches, health, fashion).
2) You are excited enough to create new content (e.g. articles, newsletters) on a regular basis.
3) You create new products which need to be added to your site
4) You need additional functionality. Integration with shopping carts, Twitter feeds etc.

And there is nothing stopping a mix of the two. For example, is built on a very simple static HTML base with links through to a CMS for dynamic content.

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Websites – Form and Functionality

There are two very important aspects to any well designed website: its form (how it looks) and its functionality (what it does). Getting only one of these right normally means people are going to click on through.

There are sites that survive purely on functionality. Take, for example, Craig’s List. It doesn’t look like much but it turns over millions of dollars (US) a year. And there are sites that exist purely on form.

The trick is to get the combination of both. Users need to be able to get what they need when they visit your site: information, a service or to make a purchase. They need to be able to do it simply and without barriers. And while they are on your site, they need to see a look of polished professionalism.

These days, using many widely available CMS-based systems (Drupal, Joomla, WordPress), it has become relatively simple to own and run a site which has both functionality and form. The functionality is delivered by communities who develop the software for free. And the form is delivered by similar communities who develop the “themes” to sit on top of your site – which you can then alter to make your own.

Excellent Image Viewer – IrfanView

I’ve been using this image viewer for many years and so far it remains the best. Irfranview is a piece of freeware available at IrfanView is a very fast, small and compact graphic viewer for Windows 9x, ME, NT, 2000, XP, 2003 , 2008, Vista, Windows 7. It can do some basic manipulation, like cutting/cropping and resampling/resizing. Definitely worth checking out.

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