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Website Maintenance: Hard Code vs. Content Management Systems
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Much has changed since the early 90s, and what used to be a funky networking tool for computer geeks has become an indispensable part of running a business.
The Internet itself has changed drastically from the early days. Back then, your only choice was to “hard code” your website. Although some developers still hard code websites, they do it for very specific reasons. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to make a more informed choice about what kind of website you want to build or have built for your business.


What does it mean to “hard code” a website?
Most users require the assistance of a web developer in order to update a hard coded website. Hard coded websites are considered “static”, which means changes cannot be made without replacing the website’s pages with new or updated files.
There’s no “back end” to log in to, so each page must be changed individually and then uploaded when the website owner wants to change, add, or remove content. Web developers know how to do this, but most laypeople have to learn more about how the Internet works, including its programming, to do it themselves. As you can imagine, maintaining a website used to be a pain in the neck!


Enter the CMS
Today most websites are based on frameworks and templates. These frameworks and templates come together to form what’s called a Content Management System or “CMS.” A good CMS allows end-users to easily manage their websites all by themselves. In fact, many websites start their lives as static sites, and a development team adds the CMS later to increase usability for the end-user. Adding new pages and new content like blog posts, videos, and photos with a CMS is almost as easy as posting on Facebook or Instagram. With a CMS, the end user no longer needs a web developer to update static website pages. The CMS provides all of the tools required, built right in and ready to go, for end-users to update their own websites.


About WordPress, the Swiss Army knife of content management
One of the most popular CMSs is an open source system called WordPress. Open source means it’s free to use, and anyone may customize its code to suit his or her needs. That’s exactly what we do for our clients here at Gilmedia.
WordPress is extremely popular because it’s easy to manage, deploys at light speed, and there are a variety of off-the-shelf plug-ins and themes available to easily add features to the basic installation. There’s also a vibrant, thriving community of WordPress users for designers, developers, and even end-users to rely on for technical support. If something doesn’t work right with your existing WordPress site, we have designers and developers ready to fix the issue right here at Gilmedia. WordPress is often used to create blogs, business websites, e-commerce sites, membership sites, and publisher sites.


Why would anyone want to hard code a website?
Let’s say your business sells just a single product, and you need to deploy 100 different landing pages in order to test a new offer. Adding 100 pages manually will take too much time, so in this case CMS will be perfect for that
In some instances it may be better to simply upload several pages directly to your website’s server. If you are selling a single product that’s always in stock and never changes, it may make sense to have the team at Gilmedia hard code some of your pages. Hard coded sites also tend to be “bare bones” in terms of code, which often makes them load faster than websites that employ a CMS. Hard code is often used for design and development portfolios, personal websites, selling one-off products, and just about any website that doesn’t require frequent updates.


Pitfalls of do-it-yourself CMS customization
Many business owners attempt to build and customize their own websites using WordPress and other CMSs. They quickly find it’s impossible to make their websites look and function the way they want without professional-grade knowledge of how the web’s programming works. It’s not uncommon for us to hear from business owners who try to “make one tiny change” but instead wind up with a completely dysfunctional site!
This is the perfect time to have the professionals at Gilmedia step up to the plate and knock the business’s website project out of the park. Instead of trying to “level up” their programming skills, most business owners find it saves them time, money, and headaches to put their keyboards down, pick up the phone, and talk to the pros on staff at Gilmedia.


Making the decision
Your business needs dictate whether you need a static, hard coded website or a website with a CMS that allows for instantly deployable, user generated content. Here at Gilmedia, we make recommendations based on your business needs first, not our favorite techniques or “flavour of the month” methods promoted by other design and development teams. Give us a call today, and we’ll help you understand exactly what your website needs to drive results at your business.

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