The best website design platform for your particular project really depends on what features you intend to build into the finished website, and where you hope to go with it in the future. The needs of a simple online brochure style website can be served by any number of technologies, however once you start writing custom applications, like booking engines, or incorporating eCommerce into a website, the criteria for selecting the best platform gets a little more in depth.
There are a number of content management systems and platforms around now, and some are better than others.
The ones you should stay away from, are those that are the creation of the all-in-one website builder and web host package. These systems, in my experience, are not geared to best practices, they offer little if any, real seo capability, and their functionality is severely limited. Then when you've had enough of paying a fortune for tech support to over come the limitations, you discover that you can't even take the website somewhere else, because it won't run on another system.
First, let's look at what makes a content management system what it is.
Content management systems for websites essentially separate content from presentation. They enable you to automate things- like auto-publish on certain days, update specials to feature on a particular date automatically- even post pre-written announcements, photo galleries and articles without having to be anywhere near technology. It will almost do it all for you.
The thing most people understand to be a "page" on a website, is created on the fly, when a content management system is deployed. Dynamically- on the run as it were. Like creating your final choice of route as you run through an obstacle course.
You can assign sidebar and footer items to be different on different pages, and change one item without having to dig in and change the code of the whole page. In almost all cases, to get more than acceptable results, no coding or programming skills are required by the person adding and updating content.
Of course you can always have your website coded in straight html- it's something that some people absolutely love doing, and it's possible to achieve extremely light, fast-loading and very search-engine-friendly code doing it this way.
One dot out of place- and the whole thing comes crashing down- so it's something you should be aware of if you are going down this road. A website built in html, using a code editor like BBedit or Komodo Edit, can be highly customisable, but limits development- best left to people who understand this language. A visual editor like Dreamweaver from Adobe helps bridge the gap- but the program has a learning curve.
Enter the buzz-platform of today- popular website content management systems- known as a "CMS" in the trade. The two most popular ones are Wordpress and Joomla. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Both can bring you joy and sorrow depending on how you use them. You need to choose your CMS wisely- changing horses midstream is never good. This is very clearly an instance when you should think carefully about your website design and direction- not just for today, but for tomorrow as well.
Read our article about website design considerations. We will look at the advantages of, and choosing the best website content management systems in our next article. Subscribe to our Melbourne Website Designer Blog, so you'll never miss an update.