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What Do You Prefer? Cms/coding From Scratch


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19 replies to this topic

#1 Hic

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Posted 10 April 2010 - 09:07 AM

Hi ...

SEO speaking, what do you prefer? coding a website from scratch or setting up a platform like wordpress or drupal ?

Thanks.

#2 Jill

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Posted 10 April 2010 - 10:34 AM

SEO wise, it makes no difference. It's all HTML in the end.

#3 chrishirst

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Posted 10 April 2010 - 10:36 AM

It really doesn't matter in the slightest. True SEO doesn't depend on what tools you use.

#4 Scottie

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Posted 10 April 2010 - 03:47 PM

Depending on the complexity of the site and the features you need, I imagine coding it yourself offers a lot more ways to mangle things up than using an established CMS system. Knowing what you are doing is more important than what you use to accomplish it.

#5 PatrickGer

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Posted 10 April 2010 - 03:50 PM

I know (and agree) this has nothing to do with the SEO of a website, but I'd assume coding your own website (using includes) from scratch rather than using a CMS, is only really a better use of your time, if you have a fairly small website (that you dont plan on expanding/ maybe becuase of its nature), right?

This is sort of the opinion I got on other forums when I last asked. Felt like asking what you guys on here think, now that the topic is here wink1.gif

#6 Randy

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 01:18 PM

I would say that's true Patrick. The other time coding it yourself being a huge advantage is if you need to have some very special application that just isn't out there or cannot be made into a plug-in for an existing CMS.

As a very general rule if I'm doing something that is going to be more akin to a blog of cms, I'll use one of those that have already been built. If I have a store/shopping type of site with a fair number of item I'll use one of the shopping cart systems available out there. And if it's a one or two item more niche type of site, I'll build it by hand with plain old web pages that allow me to use a lot of includes.

The rub for me, more often than not, is that I do use some back end conversion testing software. Which doesn't always mesh that well with the blogs/cms/carts out there. So from a practical standpoint it is almost always easier for me to integrate my conversion testing elements into hand coded pages I've done myself.

That said, I do not let this stop me from utilizing other pre-built systems. The reason being that I'm typically not (okay never) testing every single page. Instead I pick one page that gets enough traffic and test the various elements on that page. Then extrapolate the Best results and apply them to every page of the same type through the pre-built system.

Not perfect perhaps, but it works for me!

#7 Catz

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Posted 18 April 2010 - 01:40 AM

QUOTE(PatrickGer @ Apr 10 2010, 03:50 PM) View Post
I'd assume coding your own website (using includes) from scratch rather than using a CMS, is only really a better use of your time, if you have a fairly small website (that you dont plan on expanding/ maybe becuase of its nature), right?

I have to disagree with one part of this. If you are able to code your own site, you aren't limited to a site you don't plan on expanding. Understanding at least the HTML/XHTML and CSS code behind your pages that actually makes them work can make it simple to quickly and easily put together new pages when expanding a site. Once you have got the site basics down, it doesn't take much to create new pages as you have new content to share.

True, this is for smaller sites (of which there are plenty out there).

#8 PatrickGer

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Posted 18 April 2010 - 03:48 AM

Interesting, thanks for the input!

So far Ive only hand coded , and I remember asking on another forum where virtually everyone told me to go with a CMS (which I didnt, b/c it just didnt seem to be worth the cost in time rather than eventually getting started!lol..as I have yet to launch any kind of bigger website & using includes seemed to be perfectly fine).



#9 Catz

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Posted 18 April 2010 - 04:23 AM

If you are capable of hand coding, you already have the upper hand over people who can only build sites with cut and paste or fill in the blank software programs that do the work for them. Especially when it comes to figuring out issues that come up when something isn't working properly. If you hand coded the site, you can easily figure out what is going on simply by taking a look at your code.

Many people NEED something like a CMS to create the website for them because they do not have the knowledge or ability to create one on their own. They may not have had an interest in learning the code behind their pages, or they may not have had the time (though it is easy enough anyone could pick it up pretty quickly).

It doesn't cost a thing (other than time) to hand code a website. It doesn't take any special software and you don't have to learn how to use anything, like you would with a CMS. Even the free open source stuff has a learning curve you have to contend with.

If you can already hand code, you can basically create anything you like. Once you get into larger websites, then you might consider looking into the CMS.

#10 qwerty

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Posted 18 April 2010 - 11:14 AM

When I was a kid and one of my parents needed to replace their car, we'd all go to the dealership together. We kids would check out the cars with all the fancy options (oooh, electric windows!) and tell our parents they absolutely had to get all of that stuff. My mother would roll her eyes and make numerous statements in Yiddish, most of which translate to something like "Why was I cursed with these children". She'd also throw in some English, just for fun, and one of those kernels of wisdom that's always stuck with me is this one: "It's just more to break."

I've got a client now who hired some guy to write a CMS for him. I've already posted somewhere here on the forum about all the time and money that was wasted trying to get the pages generated by the CMS to be search engine friendly, and there are still a few little things that the developer insists simply can't be fixed. Nothing he can do about it.

Now I'm noticing that the Wordpress blog he added to the site, which apparently is being made to interact with the CMS in some way, is acting kind of funny. If you click the title of a post to go to its permalink, sometimes the title will display properly in the browser window, then change to something else just as the page finishes loading. What's causing this? I don't know yet. The client doesn't have the budget to let me spend the time it could take to figure it out. It could be a problem with WP, an extension that's been added to WP, the other CMS, or the way they're all set up to "work" together.

If the site's small enough to make it workable, I'll take static HTML every time.

#11 Catz

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Posted 18 April 2010 - 11:38 PM

QUOTE
If the site's small enough to make it workable, I'll take static HTML every time.

I'm with you 100% cheers.gif

Sorry guys but as many times as I have seen it stated that there is no difference between using static or dynamic pages, the difference is the humans behind them. Human error, lack of knowledge and lack of experience.

Nothing he can do about it...that's so annoying! When someone tells you they can't fix something like that, it is more that they are not going to take the time to figure out what is going on and correct it.

Dynamic pages have so much more room for error. You come across this every day. Sites that are not working properly, layouts that are not showing up properly. Menus that don't work. Pages that are not showing up due to server and database errors. Pages that are not even cross-browser compatible before being put live for the world to see. It's become commonplace.

I am familiar with a site that does something very similar to what you just described and it turns out it was recently switched over to AJAX, which is causing the problem. You see the site load and the functions you want flash by, then another version of the page shows up without the functionality you need.

This is a site in Moodle which is a CMS, also known as a Learning Management System (LMS) or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). I have taught online courses through Moodle for many, many years. The most recent upgrade to include AJAX has been a real pain for end users. It may be easier on the developer but for those who use the site and need certain functionality, it's a real pain. Not an improvement at all!

There has to be a point where people understand that simply because a new technology comes available does not mean you have to implement it in your site...especially when it was working fine in the first place. fool.gif

#12 Jill

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 07:46 AM

I disagree. In this day and age using static HTML with no CMS just seems ancient.

CMS templates can be recoded as necessary if they're not search friendly, and if they can't, then use a different CMS.

#13 qwerty

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 11:23 AM

It's not just the templates. If you have a 25 page site that doesn't require a shopping cart, an internal search function, or the capability to organize pages by category or tag (because it's a 25 page site, so it's already organized from the start), then you don't need it to be driven by a database. In a case like that, a DB just adds an extra level of complexity, gives you something else to break down, and while it's true that any site can be hacked, it's pretty easy to find and fix a static site that's been hacked. If your database is hacked, you've got some serious work ahead of you.

#14 Michael Martinez

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 01:30 PM

I'm currently updating the HTML code for about 50,000 pages of content that were created over the past 13 years. We've never used a CMS for that content. It grew by accretion.

Through the years I've redesigned the Website several times -- and "updated" it several more times. During each redesign and update I have never gotten to more than about 70-80% of those static HTML pages.

This time around I am making a concerted effort to get to every corner of the domain. This past weekend alone I found pages that had not been touched since 2001 or earlier. They not only looked like they were designed by an amateur in the 1990s (which they were), they still had old LinkExchange code embedded in them.

And I know there are more pages.

Every now and then I've thought about putting everything into a CMS. Problem is, getting to a point where I CAN put everything into a CMS is a never-ending process. Sure, I can just use a tool to suck all the pages into a database but then everything embedded in those pages goes into the database.

The site (Xenite.Org) has a variety of feature article sections that often have their own unique design. Some of the pages use wide layouts. Some of the pages don't have margin navigation. Some of the pages have sidebars.

A CMS cannot typically handle that kind of variety (although a sophisticated tool like Wordpress Mulit-User might be able to).

In some cases I've been converting sidebars to their own Web pages. But then I've just recently published two interviews (one with actor Craig Horner and one with writer Tad Williams) and I included sidebars with both. I love sidebars.

To be able to convert to a CMS I would have to write software to break down all the pages into four types of components:
  • Site navigation
  • Advertising (including internal banner networks, cross-promotional links, and embedded Javascript)
  • Boilerplate text such as copyright notices, disclaimers, and credits (mostly in footers)
  • Actual content (text, images, widgets, etc.)

The variety in all four areas would have to be sacrificed in order to accommodate the usual assumptions that a CMS forces you to make about what is important to a Website's design. That's not necessarily a bad thing. If I were to design Xenite.Org from scratch today I would probably use a CMS.

But such a site would look sterile, uniform, inflexible, and it would be just another in a mass of millions of cookie-cutter design sites.

So, Jill is right. Managing 50,000 static HTML pages puts the whole domain's design into the "ancient" category (although the updated pages look much nicer now that they use a professionally designed CSS template).

Nonetheless, I'm beginning to feel like they'll have to pry my static HTML from my cold dead fingers.

Besides, maybe this time around I'll get to all 100% of the pages. Maybe this time I'll fix everything that can be fixed so that the next time I need to update the design I can write one program to zip through all the directories and make the changes in the space of a couple minutes.

Then I'll just have to spend a night uploading the newly redesigned pages.

Yes, Virginia, hope springs eternal in the hearts and minds of the Ancients of the Internet. Keep your CMS. I have all the power and I still enjoy climbing the mountain every morning.


#15 qwerty

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 01:42 PM

Sure, if you have reason to believe that a site is going to grow to thousands, or even tens of thousands of pages, then you want to use a CMS (assuming the concept of a CMS existed when you came to the understanding that you were going to have thousands of pages).

But even if you're sure that your 25 page site is going to grow bit by bit, I think that if you take full advantage of SSI, put clear comments in the code so the owner will know where to enter new content and keep your content completely separate from your formatting, then you can use one page as a template for new pages and future redesigns will be no more challenging than they would be with a content management system.




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