WordPress or Flat HTML / CSS?

The last two Thursdays, I’ve looked at the pros and cons of using WordPress.  Today: is it right to always use WordPress (or another CMS) or is flat HTML/CSS better in some cases?  (HTML and CSS are the mark-up and formatting languages used on all websites.)

Many designers build sites from scratch; this is not always a good idea.  If you are working with a designer, especially someone who is a volunteer designer, you need to decide between WordPress (or some other CMS) or flat html /css.  It is important you make this decision independently of your designers experience.  Do not make the wrong decision because your designer can’t do the right one!  You don’t need to understand everything, just enough to make the right decision.

A temporary site or a brochure site (where the client simply wants to duplicate their printed brochure online so people can see what they offer) might be designed using html/css.  If you decide later you want something more complex, it is not usually a problem; setting up a WordPress site is very easy.  However, if you find you have a lot of traffic to a brochure site, you transfer to a WordPress site.  If you’re expecting significant traffic it’s always best to start as you mean to go on!


So, run through this checklist.  If the site does not meet any of these criteria, choose html/css.  Once you’ve decided, you need a designer who can deliver your decision.  Use WordPress if

  1. the site will be more than a few pages and expected to do some complex things
  2. you know the site will need to be regularly updated
  3. you are going to make the changes to the site, not the designer.
  4. your site will have a lot going on in the background
  5. you need WordPress plug-in functionality or might add new functionality in the future.

If you have an HTML/CSS site and it’s working for you, please comment about it and leave a link.  Do you keep it up-to-date yourself or do you pay someone to do it for you?  How does this work?

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About the Author

I've been a community development worker since the early 1980s in Tyneside, Teesside and South Yorkshire. I've also worked nationally for the Methodist Church for eight years supporting community projects through the church's grants programme. These days I am developing an online community development practice combining non-directive consultancy, strategic management, participatory methods and development work online and offline. If you're interested contact me for a free consultation.

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