Are you trying to decide between building a website with HTML or WordPress?
When web development first began, the options for building a website were extremely limited. In most cases, your only option was to write every line of code yourself or hire someone else to do it. In 2021, things are very different thanks to the rise of CMS and website builders.
These platforms offer developers a streamlined approach to creating a website, and sometimes not even a line of code is required. However, just because it is easier to do, does not necessarily make them the better choice when building.
Today, I will compare building a website with HTML or using WordPress to see which is a better option.
Overview: Static HTML vs WordPress
In truth, this comparison is really between coding a website yourself and using a CMS platform to build it. Thus, before we take a closer look at these in regards to specific categories, let’s spend some time understanding what each one is.
What is Static HTML?
A static HTML website is made up of a series of HTML files. Each file represents one page of the website and every time a visitor enters the website their browser is displaying that HTML file (alongside some stylesheets).
Each page of a static HTML website must be edited individually if you want to make a change. Thus, if you plan to redesign your website, you’re going to need to edit every single file. This makes managing a static HTML website extremely time-consuming.
That is unless you incorporate CSS and PHP, which can vastly improve development time. But still, you’re looking at a lot of coding.
However, the key advantage is complete control over the content on your pages. There are no preset limitations. Instead, the only limiting factor is your coding knowledge. Yet, for 99% of people today, that hurdle is too big to overcome.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is an open-source content management system (CMS) that currently makes up 40% of the internet. Or in other words, 40% of the internet uses WordPress to build websites.
It is dominating web development, to say the least.
A CMS is a piece of software designed to create and manage all website data. Users do not need to directly interact with the code. Instead, they typically interact with the platform’s editor, in which they can add their content.
The software then converts that into HTML, like a website generator.
In WordPress’s case, users will use the Gutenberg editor to create the content for their website. When it is published, the data will be sent as HTML to the web browser. Therefore, users do not have to write a single line of code when creating posts or pages.
Having a website is a requirement for businesses in the 21st century. Can you actually recall the last business you interacted with that didn’t have a website? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean every entrepreneur is a tech genius.
In most cases, small business owners do not know anything about building a website. Thus, they must find a method that is quick and easy. Let’s see which one of these is the better platform for beginners.
Static HTML Accesibility
Building a static HTML website requires coding knowledge and a lot of it. While HTML is not overly difficult to learn, it does take time to learn and even more to fully master it.
Making a full website is usually completely out of the question for a beginner.
It is also important to mention that you need to create every page individually. This can be a nightmare in certain circumstances if you plan on regularly changing the content on a page.
As the name implies, Static HTML is best used for content that will not change. Such as a landing page or other one-page site.
One shining grace of using HTML is that you don’t have to handle updates. This makes maintaining your website much easier and avoids ever running into situations where something stops working when an update is pushed out.
WordPress Accesibility: Winner
WordPress does not require any coding knowledge, instead, all of the heavy lifting is done by plugins and themes. A plugin is a piece of software that adds a specific feature to your website. Whereas, a theme is a collection of stylesheets that dictates the appearance.
With WordPress, or most CMS in general, you can quickly carry out bulk actions for all of your pages or posts. This makes managing your content a breeze. The Gutenberg editor is where you will create your content and it is block-based.
So what does that mean? Well, each block has its own feature. For instance, want to type a paragraph, use a paragraph block. Want to create a list, use a list block. They are very intuitive and can be arranged in any order to give you a limitless amount of customization.
There’s really no contest between coding your own website with HTML and using WordPress in terms of accessibility. Writing your own code has its advantages, but accessibility is not one of them.
This is why most small businesses needed to hire a web developer to build their websites years ago.
Anyone can build a website using WordPress, thus it is the clear winner.
Websites are anything but basic today. Regardless of if the website is for a small blog, graphic design portfolio, or online store, it needs to look good. If not, visitors are probably not going to trust it.
And if they don’t trust it, they won’t buy anything.
Let’s take a look at how each one of these stacks up to the other.
Static HTML Design
Design is definitely where Static HTML really shines. Most platforms come with a limitation of some sort that can get in the way of creative freedom. The only limitation here is your coding skills.
However, this is actually done using CSS and not HTML.
Where HTML tells the webpage what content is on it, cascading style sheets (CSS) tells the web page how they look. Thus, when you are talking about page design, you’re really talking about CSS.
The good news is that there’s actually a lot of examples of CSS code that you can use as a template online. The possibilities are truly endless in the hands of a competent coder, but one drawback is looking at lines of code instead of the actual web page.
WordPress Design: Winner
When it comes to design, you have to first mention WordPress themes. There are thousands to choose from and they will transform your website’s appearance in an instant.
WordPress also allows you to use CSS code to modify your theme, thus the customization is endless.
Now, if this was your only option, a lot of WordPress websites would look similar, but it isn’t. Instead, you also have access to page builders. Each one comes with its own toolset and specialization to help you build the website of your dreams.
In most cases, they utilize a drag and drop interface, which allows you to drag specific elements onto a page and see them in real-time. This means that you will be able to see exactly what your webpage looks like when editing.
While you can create anything using your own code on a static HTML website, you can do the same thing in WordPress. The difference is that you have the ability to choose the interface you use to build a webpage and can see the changes in real-time.
Thus, while you can get the same results, the process is far more streamlined in WordPress.
Online shopping has never been more popular, and so many websites are trying to build an online presence in eCommerce. The good news is that building an online shop is pretty straightforward nowadays.
Let’s take a look at what each of these brings to the table in terms of eCommerce potential.
Static HTML eCommerce
Now you can certainly build an HTML site with eCommerce functionality, but the real question is should you? Let’s remember the term “static HTML” with an emphasis on the “static” portion for a second. Ecommerce sites are busy and constantly changing.
Or to say it another way, nothing about them is static. The amount of work you would need to do to add new products, update prices, change the featured items, and just about everything else associated with running an online store is enormous in an HTML environment.
The only saving grace of using HTML is not having to pay any transaction fees to a platform, outside of the payment gateway (PayPal, Stripe, etc.). But at the same point, not every platform does this either.
WordPress eCommerce: Winner
When it comes to eCommerce, WordPress has a secret weapon, WooCommerce. This plugin will transform your website into a full-fledged online shop ready to do business. It handles everything from payments to product pages.
And did I mention that it is completely free to use? Well, it is, and it’s a big reason why over 5 million online shops are powered by WooCommerce. And like most things in WordPress, the process has been streamlined so that anyone can use it.
To be perfectly honest, most of the process is just going through the settings and choosing a payment gateway. The other half of it is just adding products to the store. It’s not an exaggeration to say that you could set up a fully stocked online store in a single day.
This isn’t really close at all, as WordPress dominates HTML in regards to eCommerce functionality. While building a website with HTML is still very common in 2021, building an eCommerce site with it is not. It requires a small team to do it with today’s standards in mind.
The winner is WordPress because it is easy to set up, maintain, and doesn’t charge any transaction fees.
Most people think it takes a small fortune to build a website, but that is just a myth. The reality of the situation is that building a website is very affordable today. It really just depends on the platform you choose to build with and the features you choose to implement.
From an overhead cost perspective, both of these options are tied, but there can be some expenses associated with each one that is worth looking at.
Static HTML Pricing
HTML is just a coding language, thus there is no cost associated with using it. Therefore, there is no cost to coding your own website. That said, like all websites, you must host your site with a web hosting company.
Believe it or not, it is still common to hire a web developer to build a website from scratch in HTML nowadays. Again, coding an entire website isn’t easy, and choosing this path can set you back several thousand dollars. It’s really dependent on the web developer you find.
That said, if you build the website from scratch yourself, the cost is $0.
WordPress Pricing: Winner
WordPress is completely free to use. Everything from the install to all of the updates you will receive afterward is free with no hidden fees. The real cost of using WordPress is paying for web hosting services, but this is true for every website.
Other expenses you might run into are premium themes and plugins. On average, a premium theme will set you back between $30 to $50. Whereas a premium plugin range is much wider.
However, using either one of these is completely optional.
It’s completely possible to build a website with WordPress using only free tools. And the result can look just as good.
This is kind of an awkward category because using HTML and WordPress is completely free. Both definitely have costs associated with them, but even then, those are completely optional. The real cost they both share is finding a good web hosting service.
And due to the popularity of WordPress, you can get a better experience when finding a dedicated WordPress host, which is why I gave it the win.
Final Results: Static HTML vs WordPress
WordPress is the most popular CMS on the internet for a reason. It’s easy to use and can do virtually anything. While you can do anything with HTML, it specializes in static content like homepages.
But for websites that plan to constantly change or update appearances, the workload is too high.
Not to mention you need to know the language inside and out to build a feature-rich webpage. WordPress can get the same results with a fraction of the work.