To get a cool website that works for you (instead of you working for it), there are a couple ways to go. (well, probably a lot of ways:-) )
From my testing and trying here are two systems among others I have tried:
1 – cool html templates can do great for creating a static site
(static as in, each page is always the same and for new content you have to create a whole new page) generally you buy a great template from a professional design company, follow the instructions and edit each little piece of the page, and the next page and the next, and the next I still have one of the first templates which I bought from a company that still sells outdated design. Start with something good like the css/xhtml templates found at ThemeForest they have lots of cool templates with adequate instruction on getting them up and running, changing the content, adding pages etc In a short period of time you can have the beginning of a site up and running.
To do so, you need:
- Text editor (not Word)
- FTP software (Cyberduck for Mac FTP, FileZilla or win FTP)
- A solid web host for your site
- Time (maybe a lot of it!)
Pros and Cons:
PRO: with a little time and effort follow the instructions and you have a great looking site Bam!!
CON: to edit/create/adjust a page you have to open the html/code change it, upload it (FTP)
PRO: good navigation structure and consistent feel to the whole site
CON: very little interactivity static page means static, always the same info on each page, i.e. not able to dynamically display list of most recent updates, nothing like a site search, no ability for people to comment online etc.
PRO: is a great introduction to html code, site management, leaves you hungry for a more dynamic site etc.
CON: TIME is a factor, so adding content may be delayed and sight quickly becomes old.
Summary: if time is of essence if you want a quick, professional, brochure like site up and running this is a super way to go.
2- A second approach: Content Management System (i.e. WordPress, Postnuke, Drupal, Mambo)
The difference here is the comparison of terms site: pages of content; system: dynamic site with built in content management.
There are many open source systems WordPress Postnuke Drupal Mambo a few of the more popular among the literally hundreds in development. Open Source means no cost for the application. These systems give you the ability to login to your site, edit/change/upload content from any computer. As far as the look goes themes are also available for free hundreds of them. (Here are a couple theme sites: Theme Forest, WordPress.org/Extend/) Similar to an html template you can edit the graphics and even some of the layout. Once you have the layout and style to your liking, the focus is on content. Login, write, upload, Publish!
Pros and Cons:
PRO: a good Content Management System makes adding content simple
CON: Initial setup is a little complex if you’ve never done it before, the site takes shape over time, you may try several themes before you find one that works for you.
PRO: Your site quickly reflects you in content and style
CON: many tools, plugins and options lead to having a lot of fun, adding new features, finding new ways to do things: (may eat TIME)
PRO: Open Source means large user community, help forums, many sites dedicated to helping people tweak their sites and style their content
CON: You will still be running into some code Not as much as the HTML only site in my experience
PRO: Every time you post content to your site with WordPress a whole list of sites are notified that you have new content
PRO: Your site is searchable, frequently visited by google, loads pages more quickly than many html static sites
PRO: RSS is built into your system so you could do all sorts of fun things, like create Podcasts from your site, do Vlogging or something like that.
PRO: Content is separated from style which means you can change themes and look anytime the content will remain and the site will look brand-new.
PRO: Your site can function like a simple blog or a complex web system giving information where it is requested, presenting content where you want it to.
What reasons do you have for choosing either the static html approach, or the dynamic WordPress system?