I moved away from static HTML pages some years ago and discovered the pain and pleasure of using a Content Management System (CMS). Hmm. Maybe I should rephrase the previous sentence so "pleasure" is before "pain". It's true that there is a learning curve to any CMS, but it's well worth the climb.
Here are my top reasons for choosing a CMS over a static HTML web site:
- Life: A CMS web site is more alive than a static HTML site because it can be configured to accept input, opinions, media, or other contributions from users of the site. In this way a CMS site is like an organism that adapts, evolves, and grows based on other life around it. This puts a CMS in a whole other universe from a static HTML site.
- Control: Once a CMS site is running there are innumerable options for how the content can be displayed. CMS sites typically take full advantage of CSS, HTML, AJAX, and usually a back-end database system such as MySQL. The incorporation of all of this technology offers full control of even the subtlest aspects of a web site.
- Convenience. A CMS is amazingly convenient. If you can access the Internet through a web browser you can work on your site, anywhere in the world.
- Organization. Content management systems typically use a database to store and structure its textual content. No matter which CMS you use, structure is an inherent part of it, and you can't help but be organized about the categories and hierarchy of information you publish on a CMS-driven site. Though the structure of a CMS may seem to get in the way for some web site authors, I see it as having far more advantages than disadvantages. Information needs structure to be useful. Nuff said.
My first non-static HTML site was published through WordPress, which is a great tool for blogging, and is flexible enough that it is also great for a personal, or moderate-sized web site. The WordPress community is very supportive, and there are a lot of free templates to style a WordPress site almost any imaginable way. For someone who is new to a CMS, WordPress is less technical than Joomla, though somewhat less capable out-of-the-box. WordPress is first and foremost a blogging tool, not a CMS. With the inclusion of plug-ins, WordPress can be made to work like a CMS, but for true content management capabilities Joomla is the way to go.
There are many free CMS packages available for downloading, but Joomla is a great choice for many applications. There are currently over 5,000 components, modules, and plug-ins available for it, and most of them are free. You can find a plug-in to do almost anything through Joomla, and dozens of new plug-ins are posted each week.
If you're at all curious check it out at joomla.org.