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  1. #1
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    question about using cms vs. html website

    So my boss has gone off and contracted some third party developers to build a site using drupal. Unfortunately even though I am the IT manager, I had no hand in this decision and I am worried about the consequences.

    My (probably oldschool) attitude is that the best websites are written in short concise html with a smattering of php and javascript. This means they are fast, simple, easily editable, easily organisable (on the file system), easily SEO'd and if there is a bug it is relatively easily found.

    I have used wordpress (similar to drupal) for a year or so now, and found it incredibly difficult to customise (and I don't mean addons) and at times quite slow. It is difficult to even find the php file that holds a certain piece of text or displays a certain image. And bug fixing can sometimes be a case of wait till the next update. Looking through the file system is a nightmare of millions of tiny php files and configuring access to various directories shouldn't be, but is, quite tricky.

    So what do you think? Are my concerns valid? We have a support contract for a year with the developers, but I know there will be plenty of situations in which I will have to work on it, added to that the fact that I like to understand the technologies I am supposedly managing :/

    Regards
    Ed

  • #2
    Master Coder
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    I think the answer depends on the business and what the website is supposed to do.

    If the site is "informational", about the business, location, contact, etc., then you
    are correct that a simple hand-made (validated) XHTML/CSS site is the best.

    But, if the company has an online catalog (databases), and various features that
    require constant changing, then Drupal is probably a good choice.

    The customizing part of any CMS system is always frustrating for the people who
    didn't develop the CMS ... that's why some programmers and developers have
    specifically become experts at CMS themes, styles, and customization ... it's a niche
    that is starting to draw a lot of new business.

    I feel your pain, but they could be making a good business decision.

  • #3
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    I think that many people who don't have a shred of knowledge about information technology feel that it's important to mention SEO and CMS to their web developer and demand it regardless of their unique needs. People should have more trust in their web developers to determine this decision for them.

    I am definitely looking forward to a rise in simple website editing like Adobe's Incontext Editing. I'd like to see the same thing happen on a locally instead of as a service.

  • #4
    Senior Coder gnomeontherun's Avatar
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    This day and age, a simple HTML website has less value than a site that utilizes some extra content features. Sites have matured to a point where they are easily dynamic and often updated. Now some sites don't need to be updated or dynamic, for example a brochure type website. However, most sites I develop are in a CMS or framework.

    Your concerns are valid, but it goes both ways. For example, I can easily add things onto a site with a CMS that would take a lot of effort, and often its free or really cheap to purchase. However I have taken the time to work with a couple CMSs to understand how they work, and it takes time. So yes, it is a big leap, but often a good idea in the long run. It can be more easily maintained and managed. Drupal people are also pretty intense and helpful, you should check out their community.

    As far as SEO stuff, its content not the system. Sure there are some tricks like making pretty urls, but pretty much any mature CMS will have all of the things you need. I cannot maintain old HTML sites anymore, it takes too much time to just make little changes sitewide (add a new page requires a new link everywhere!).

    An HTML site is easy to manage if you know HTML, a CMS site is easily managed if it is set up properly by anyone with a little computer experience. It really goes both ways, and I think its a good choice to move a site to a CMS 90% of the time.
    jeremy - gnomeontherun
    Educated questions often get educated answers, and simple questions often get simple answers.

  • #5
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    Ok thanks guys you have really allayed my fears.

    While it seems like a complex beast (from what I have been reading) and there is a tendency for addon bloat, since it is often easier to use an addon to fix a problem rather than editing the core code, one thing that I wasn't thinking about which will really help is the ability to push the content updating side of things to the front line staff who know what they want on there.

    There were some complaints that it is a lot harder just to update the text on a page than, say, wordpress. I hear that these will be addressed in drupal 7, though since the developers are working on this atm, I doubt the initial implementation will be in 7. Maybe I can get them to promise an update. I hear this release is due end-of-year. Any thoughts?

    Thanks again

    Ed

  • #6
    Senior Coder gnomeontherun's Avatar
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    Drupal 7 should include the big overhaul of the usability. Wordpress might be easier, but by default its a smaller and less powerful platform. As far as add on bloat, that is easily managed if you are careful about what you install. Also using the cache feature of a site will make it perform just like a plain HTML site except when it needs to update.

    In Drupal the administration of the content is done in place, so there isn't a 'backend' like Wordpress, which is a little strange at first. You get used to it though, just like any new system it takes a little time to get accustomed to.

    I recommend this site for CMS related news: http://www.cmswire.com/
    jeremy - gnomeontherun
    Educated questions often get educated answers, and simple questions often get simple answers.


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