Make website page by page or use open source software?

With your web hosting company set up and domain name registered, it is now time to make your web site. There are several ways to go about building your web site. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. It all depends on what you want to do with your web site. One of the easiest and fastest ways to create your web site is to use open source software. You don’t have to mess around too much with HTML/CSS or other form of coding. You just need to concentrate on churning out your articles or blog.

On the other hand, you may want to have more control over the various layouts, theme and perhaps insert special codes like JavaScript to give your web site more oomph! Then you will need to get down and dirty into the world of web site programming. Don’t let web page code programming scare you. Unless you plan to be a serious web developer, you don’t have to be that advance to make your own web page. Sometimes all you need to do is to use an existing open source web site theme or code and customize it to your needs. Of course understanding the code would help you to easily embed it into your web site. I myself only have very basic understanding of JavaScript, programming requires some serious thinking, since somebody much knowledgeable than me has provided the code freely for all to use, all I needed to do was get a copy of their code, plug it in to my web site and voila! I have some new feature in my web site.

So consider the ways you would like to go about to make your own web site.

  1. Build your web site page by page using HTML/CSS
  2. Build your web site by using open source software like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, phpBB etc
  3. A combination of both of the above.

Like my web site here, I am using a combination of page by page web site building as well as installing WordPress software for my general blogging. I have also set up a photography gallery album using ZenPhoto. In between while testing and checking out several software I have also installed and uninstalled Joomla, Mambo, Drupal, phpBB bulletin board, phpList for sending email newsletter, etc. There’s so many open source software to try out and experiment, and that’s where automatic script installation like Fantastico and Simple Script provided by Bluehost comes in really handy.

But my favourite script for blogging and CMS (Content Management Software) is still WordPress because it has proven to be the most robust and easiest to use software around. While tinkering around with it, I have crashed my WordPress websites a few times and yet was still able to recover the contents that were posted. I could move the WordPress installation around in my web site and still it could function without fail. Try that with Joomla or Drupal and see. It would be much more difficult to recover from them.

So let’s consider how you would want to go about building your web site. If you just want to blog only and nothing else. Build it using WordPress in the root directory. But if you want to build many different sections on your web site, consider creating a folder to install your blogging software and avoid cluttering your root folder.

For example:

|__public_html

  |__blog
  |__photos
  |__media
    |__files
    |__videos
  |__forum
  |__testing
    |__etc
    |__etc

Doing the above structure helps out in housekeeping the web site account. You will know where each of your installation has gone in and if you decided to remove an installation it would be easier to clean up the folder, or just simply delete the folder and start all over again!


Advantages and drawback of each method

Advantages of building a web site page by page

  • Simplest method of web page creation (as in not doing any serious programming using PHP or any other SSI code but just using only HTML / CSS only)
  • Full control of layout and web page structure
  • You get to keep an exact copy in your PC as backup (yes, backups are important!)
  • And the page tend to load up faster as there is less processing of PHP codes on the web server

Disadvantages

  • Can be very difficult to start from scratch if you don’t know what to do
  • Very tedious and time consuming if you decided to change the web site template or layout, though this issue can be lessen if you use some simple code using SSI or PHP includes.
  • Lose out on many automated features that are available in the open source software like RSS, sitemap creation, internal automatic linking, comments, tag clouds, categories, etc.

Using software like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc to create your web site has the following advantages:

  • Many automated processes eg RSS, pinging of blogging services, content management, comments management, etc
  • You just concentrate on article posting and no need to worry too much about coding
  • Many choice of template available for instant web site creation. No need to figure out where the codes go to get the Look! Just browse through the available templates and upload it to your favourite software.
  • Specialize software like phpBB or SMF for forum web site creation, phpList or DadaMail for newsletter, ZenCart and others for making an e-Commerce site, etc. These are not something everyday people like you or I could create. You just need to find one that is suitable and install it into your web site.

Disadvantages

  • May be difficult to set up initially (unless you have Fantastico or Simple Script which makes installation a breeze!). You need to set up MySQL database and configure the software installation to communicate with each other for them to work.
  • May be difficult to understand how to use it. For example, my brother-in-law said he rather make his web site page by page than use WordPress because it was so confusing for him to use. Huh? Actually WordPress is one of the easiest CMS software around to use. Try using Joomla and see!
  • Requires updating of software for improvement or plugging up security or software issues or just simply getting a new version for a new look. Some time along the way, the newer software versions may not be compatible with the older version way of MySQL database storage and the steps to upgrade may become complicated (eg Joomla 1.0 upgrade to Joomla 1.5 is no easy task)
  • You have to work within the software limitations. For example, you want nice looking URLs, but unfortunately if you use Joomla 1.0 this was not available or requires purchasing a plugin to do the job.
  • Backups and restoration also become more complicated. A trade off for ease of use and easier content management is that backup requires doing more things like backing up the MySQL database, the SQL user ID and Passwords, templates, etc.

Consider your options to make your own web site and let’s get going!

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