Designing a bespoke site from the ground up offers maximum flexibility and choice at the design stage. Everything can be tailored and designed to meet specific needs, with no constraints except for those imposed by the underlying technology. However, that degree of freedom also imposes considerable complexity at both the development stage and during use.
Content Management Systems, like ExpressionEngine, were developed to reduce that complexity and make the task of creating, managing, and editing a website considerably easier. Content Management Systems have become enormously popular, and a significant majority of new small and medium business sites are deployed on one of the popular CMSs.
Control of Content is Returned to Content Creators
The major benefit of Content Management Systems is the abstraction of site design from site content and the provision of easy-to-use tools for the addition and editing of that content.
For example, with ExpressionEngine, it’s almost trivially easy to add new content and edit existing content.
For very simple sites, static HTML pages are often sufficient. But with any level of complexity, managing content efficiently becomes a headache. A website is not a book where each block of content has an unchanging and unique location. Very often, the same content needs to appear in numerous locations (an address, a product description, a social media widget, and so on). Content Management Systems allow for content to be written once and used multiple times.
As sites grow in complexity and have multiple people working on them, details of navigation, URL optimization, and content duplication tend to fall between the cracks.
Content Management Systems are designed to ensure that sites maintain a logical and coherent linking structure, with search engine-friendly URLS.
ExpressionEngine and other CMSs are built to be modular. New functionality can be easily added to a site with plugins and extensions. There is no need to write specific code for each site on which it is to be deployed. For example, adding a social media widget is as simple as downloading the relevant plugin and designating a location for it within a page. Most of the hard work is already taken care of.
On static sites, design and content tend to be mixed together, making it difficult to tweak the appearance of a site. Content Management Systems use templates to abstract the look of a site from its content, enabling design refreshes and even complete changes to the look and feel of a site without having to modify content at all.
Because much of the code for a CMS is kept separate from the content, the whole codebase can be updated in-place. Security vulnerabilities can be easily patched, and most CMSs offer a simple one-click method of updating.
Ease of Installation
Small businesses and start-ups often rely on people who are not expert in web design, development, and IT to maintain their sites. Content Management Systems are designed to be easy to install and extend without writing a line a code. It’s possible to have a CMS up and running on a server in minutes, freeing administrators to concentrate on creating content rather than dealing with the more technical aspects of deploying a site.
These are a few of the many benefits of using of a Content Management System like ExpressionEngine to create a site. Have you had experience of working with static or bespoke sites? Let us know what you think in the comments.