Selecting the type of Website and preferable CMS

webdev

In the previous article, we have covered the different types of websites available on the Internet. Technically speaking, you can create any website consisting of either static or dynamic webpages. You can start by creating some html simple pages and linking them with hyperlinks. But if your site requires frequent updates, dynamic is always a better option.

Static webpages are made of hard-coded HTML. They are readily available on the server and are sent to the client (browser) on request directly. The advantage is that you can design pages with relatively simple coding. Just define the page’s content and style and you are done. You can use these webpages to create a descriptive website, one which you do not have to update much (for example, a site giving a historical account of a place or an incident).

Dynamic web pages, on the other hand, do not contain any hard-coded HTML. They are written in languages which only the server can understand. The browser cannot directly understand these languages. When a browser requests such a page, the server first translates the page to browser readable HTML code and then sends it to the client. Since HTML is generated at runtime, dynamic web pages help a website to become more “dynamic”. The content of the pages is no longer hard coded, but can also depend on various factors like user-specific information, current, accurate data fetched from several sources and also provides the ability to easily alter contents of a page with the click of a button. To create dynamic web pages, one requires the knowledge of basic programming concepts and some server side scripting languages (like PHP, ASP, etc.). PHP is one of the most widely used server side scripting languages.We are going to focus on PHP as the scripting language. You can go through a few tutorials here.

PHP Tutorial [w3schools]

PHP: A simple tutorial – Manual

Why Dynamic websites are more preferable?

Dynamic websites have several advantages over Static ones. They are more interactive and attracts the user’s attention. They can return user specific information. Dynamic websites have strong back-end (database) connectivity. Any desired change made from a single location can easily reflected across the entire website.

There are a lot of advantages of creating a dynamic rather than a static website. You’ll eventually know better as you gain experience. Lets take a small example to get you a clear picture. Suppose you have created a full website having 1000 pages. Now, even if a minor change is to be introduced in your website, it needs to be reflected in all the 1000 pages. You’ll need to get to the core of the individual files and manually insert HTML code. If the change is huge, it becomes a tedious task. However, a dynamic website can easily handle this situation. Simply make the change in the main module and all the other pages will automatically reflect the changes.

If you are not confident enough to code your website, don’t worry. We are going to introduce a new concept called CMS. It will provide you a platform having several web development tools using which you can build your website without playing much with codes. A lot of popular websites started off with a suitable CMS. There are a lot of Content Management Systems (CMSs) that help you manage the content based on the type of website.

Websites, page types, and their preferable CMSs

Website

Page Type

Preferable CMS

BlogStatic, DynamicWordPress (free), Joomla (free)
InformativeStatic, DynamicDrupal (free), Joomla (free), WordPress (free)
WikiDynamicMediawiki (free)
ForumDynamicvBulletin (paid), Simple Machines Forum(free), phpBB (free)
Social Networking SitesDynamic*Custom CMS
E-Commerce WebsitesDynamic*Custom CMS
Service Oriented WebsitesDynamic*Custom CMS

*Custom CMS could be a modified version of any existing CMS or could even be built from scratch depending on the developer’s requirement and choice.

Free CMSs are generally open source and have no proprietary support. They have to be managed by the developers themselves. Paid CMSs, on the other hand, can be used only after the service is bought, but they provide long term support.

Some CMSs can be used for building all types of websites. Beginners generally want to build a website to express their views publicly, hence informative websites and blogs are the most suitable. If you want to build an informative website, Drupal offers you a flexible platform. WordPress is also a good platform for building both informative websites as well as blogs. We recommend you to start off with a personal blog. WordPress already offers a centralized blogging platform and is quite easy to learn. You will find all the tools required to create a good blog readily available here. As a beginner you should explore the platform well, use it, and make yourself familiar with it. At an advanced level, WordPress can also be enhanced to create more complex website types, like an online store or even your own Service Oriented web apps.

With WordPress, you can customize the look of your website with many WordPress themes available (both free and paid) on the Internet. Or you can build your own design and convert it into a WordPress theme.

In the coming tutorials, we will describe how to set up your own WordPress blog and how to manage it properly.

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