WordPress or HTML?

Two Paths

There are two popular approaches to building a website. You can use a static HTML website or a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress or Joomla. If you are new to building and managing sites, you might wonder what the big difference between these approaches is. They both make websites, but how you get the results is different. Read on to discover the difference between them and which is best for you.

HTML – CSS – JavaScript

A static HTML website is one that you build with HTML and CSS. The reason it’s called a static website is because nothing can change about the website, or at least not unless you go back and change the code. Until recent years, this was the only way to make a website. There is no dynamic content, nor is there any real user interaction. The only thing you get is what you enter into the HTML. What does that mean? Once you are done designing and installing the website, it will only do what you requested. You can make beautiful sites that allow users to read content, purchase products, access free offers, sign up for newsletters, and build your list. You can do anything you desire with a static HTML website.



Though it’s called an HTML website, several different coding languages are typically used to build an HTML website. HTML provides the structure or the core, but CSS sets the look and feel of the visuals and makes them look pretty. You can select the size, colors, fonts, backgrounds… etc. JavaScript can add special effects to the website and even a little dynamic interaction with the user. As you can imagine, though, if you choose to go this route to create your website, you’ll need to know at least the basics of each language used.

A Content Management System (CMS) is much more user-friendly because you do not need to know any code to use it. CMS is a “drag and drop” or “point and click” type system. You log in to the “admin” portion of the website, make the changes you desire, and update. The changes you make to the appearance or functionality of your website take effect immediately after you save and update. One of the other nice things about CMS is the variety of themes available, but we’ll talk about that later.

Most CMS sites are called Blog sites primarily because they were originally used for blogging and not much else. In recent years, CMS has become so much more and is now one of the most widely used programs for building a website. Built using PHP, CMS sites have a database attached to save all core and dynamic content. So once again, the biggest differences between CMS and static HTML are dynamic content (change it on the fly) and no coding required.

WordPress or Joomla?

This is a matter of choice. Both are excellent platforms; for the most part, one is as easy to use as the other. The biggest difference between them is this: WordPress has been around since 2003 and is very popular. As a result, they get a huge amount of support from other programmers when it comes to Plugins (we’ll talk about this in a minute) and SEO, and there are a kazillion themes available for WordPress, too, thus making it a trendy choice for both newbies and pros alike. Joomla has not been around as long (2005) but has become very popular in its own right over the years. It is second only to WordPress, with over 30 million downloads, and now with WordPress integration, it’s no slouch. Both allow users to leave comments on posts and or pages, stream new content from sources like social media or news sites, and you can also quickly add recent posts to your blog without having to worry about modifying your navigation bar (it’s automatic) or structuring your pages, thanks to built-in templates.

Pros and Cons

Static HTML: Pros – A static HTML website is easy to set up (especially if you know the code). You have complete control of the layout, look and feel. HTML websites also load faster because they usually have fewer files and data to download. As stated earlier, a big benefit of HTML is that you have total control over the website’s appearance. If you know CSS, a fairly simple language, you can easily change how your HTML website looks. You can also change the visuals of a WordPress or Joomla site, but you are limited by the number of choices or flexibility available with the theme or template you use.

Static HTML: Cons – The cons of fixed HTML deal with its lack of interactivity and complex structure with larger websites. An HTML page has no interactivity and only includes what you code. For example, if you code a Web page with an article, that’s all you will get. There will be nothing else on the page except for that article. There will be no user content, no dynamic content that generates while away, and the website will remain static.
On the other hand, if you program it to include a database so that users can access information, you could call that a limited form of interactivity. The same holds with a shopping cart. A user comes to your website to purchase a product or service you offer; in the same sense, they can interact with your website in a limited form.

If you want to make changes to your site, like adding a new post (write a recent article) or page, you will need to create it first and then upload the HTML file to your server, and then change the navigation bar (menu) before it is visible to the user. This takes much time, especially if you add one or more pages daily. Another consideration is that changing parts of your website can be cumbersome if you don’t have a good CSS structure in place. For example, you want to change the background color for all your site pages.

If you have the background color programmed with CSS and have it called out in the HTML for all the pages, then changing the color in the CSS will change the color on all the pages on your website. This is huge for a website that might have 100 pages or more. Otherwise, you’ll need to change all 100 pages individually. As you can see, static HTML sites are easy for the guy who understands the code requirements but not for those with little to no coding knowledge. Finally, SEO! You must code all of the SEO into your static website yourself. Considering SEO is a somewhat dynamic process, you will always have to go back and tweak or change your site to keep it current.

WordPress Pros – As stated earlier, you can use WordPress or Joomla, but we’ll only refer to WordPress hereafter for comparisons. WordPress is often considered the best way to set up a website because it is straightforward for newbies. A WordPress blog takes some time to set up, but not when you consider how long it takes someone to write all the code required for an HTML site. Besides, we’re talking hours, not days or weeks, but it would not be unusual for a web developer to spend days designing a new website using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Installing a WordPress blog only takes a few minutes with most hosts, and adding a new theme takes even less time. Articles are what WordPress is all about.

Let’s take a minute to talk about themes. Themes or templates allow you to change the look or feel of your website literally in minutes. If you want a particular niche site, for example, a medical-looking feel or a golfing theme, there are plenty to choose from. Some are free, and others you’ll need to purchase, usually called Premium themes. If you want a blog and a place for people to leave comments, then a free piece will probably do the trick. However, a premium theme is the way to go if you want a more professional storefront to look at with a shopping cart or a data feed for an Amazon affiliate. I prefer premium themes because they generally allow for more flexibility and customization.

SEO is another big plus for WordPress because it is already built into the program. When you install WordPress on your server for the first time, you immediately need to go to the admin section and complete a setup process in the settings> general settings area. In there, you will fill in a couple of fields that are the beginnings of the SEO process. Afterward, whenever you create a page or post, you can add to your SEO and keep your content current and search engine-friendly. There are plenty of good plugins you can use that can take your SEO to astronomical levels.

Speaking of plugins, thousands add unique and interesting effects to your WordPress website. There are so many choices of plugins that it will be impractical to try and mention them here but to give you a taste, there are plugins for advertising, SEO, article submission, spam protection, adding captchas, creating contact forms, email campaigns, and even ones that will automatically backup your website according to a schedule you set up. The list of plugins goes on forever.

WordPress Cons – One problem with WordPress is that there are too many plugins. I’ve seen websites that take too long to load because of too many plugins installed. Only use what is necessary. Another thing to consider is the themes. Some are better than others. Theme developers put a lot of time and thought into the design. Still, some developers think of the end-user more than others and recognize that we want lots of customization freedom. More importantly, not all have programming skills, so make it simple to understand and use. All of them allow for some customization, but others will give you more control and the ability to make your website look the way you want it to be. I’m saying to read the reviews and do homework before investing in a premium theme. Also, a well-designed piece will look clean and load quickly. There are thousands of themes to choose from, so you will find something you like.

Installing your WordPress Website

Installing a WordPress site with most hosts takes only a few minutes. I found GoDaddy to be one of the best web hosts out there. There are other good web hosting companies, and I’ve used several of them and would not hesitate to recommend them, but GoDaddy (in my opinion) has superior customer service. I cannot say enough about a company with a phone number you can call and an actual customer service person (a real human being) who will answer and be there whenever you need them. However, it’s your choice for whichever company you decide to use and are more comfortable with.

Now, back to installing! Just log in to your web host and follow their instructions for installing WordPress. Afterward, you’ll need to upload and install your theme. Once that is complete and you receive confirmation from the server that the website is active, all that is left is adding content, customizing your new website, and making it look how you want.

Final thoughts

There are two main approaches to making a website. Static HTML is good for small sites and simple pages, or if you’re an avid programmer, even bigger projects are OK. WordPress is good for pages you will constantly be updating, for new ones added on the fly, and for the guy whose programming skills are minimal or non-existent. Both HTML and WordPress are good approaches, but WordPress is often considered the more desirable alternative because there is so much you can do with your website compared to HTML; more importantly, no programming skills are required. However, consider your needs, and you should be able to figure out which one will work best for you.


Alcohol scholar. Bacon fan. Internetaholic. Beer geek. Thinker. Coffee advocate. Reader. Have a strong interest in consulting about teddy bears in Nigeria. Spent 2001-2004 promoting glue in Pensacola, FL. My current pet project is testing the market for salsa in Las Vegas, NV. In 2008 I was getting to know birdhouses worldwide. Spent 2002-2008 buying and selling easy-bake-ovens in Bethesda, MD. Spent 2002-2009 marketing country music in the financial sector.