HTML (Standard) Websites
Standard HTML websites (sometimes called static HTML websites) are created using HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) code to specify what displays in your browser when you request a page. All websites, even Content Management Systems (CMS) websites, use HTML code to display content. The difference is that when you create a standard HTML website you create it by writing the code, and when you create a CMS website there is a user interface that creates the code in the background.
Standard HTML websites are also sometimes called "CSS" websites, the CSS standing for Cascading Style Sheets. CSS is a way of grouping many repetitive code instructions in one centralized document, and referring the users browser to that document so the information doesn't have to be coded on every single page. This is information including what size and style of font to show the user, and how to format the pictures on a site. Before CSS, that information had to be coded on every single page. So if you wanted to change the font used on the whole website, you'd have to change the coded reference to it on every page. CSS made it so that you would only have to change it in one place. A vast improvement! CSS also changed other ways of dealing with instructing browsers, most importantly introducing an improved way of specifying where to put certain design elements.
Why Would You Choose an HTML/CSS Website Instead of a CMS Website?
Generally this type of website can be faster and thus cheaper to code initially. But this type of website requires some specific knowledge and software to manage. Most people do not manage, or update, their own standard HTML websites, that duty is left to their webmaster. You can usually tell an HTML website managed by someone without much experience, because it won't look professional, or work consistently across all browser and operating system combinations.
But many people are still having websites built using HTML, and the HTML specification continues to advance.
If you intend to build a small brochure type website, with some galleries, forms and even audio or video, and you are not interested in learning to update the site yourself, it would be smart for you to have your designer build an HTML website for you. It will cost less in the long run and require less ongoing structural maintenance. Julie D. Lee, LCSW is one of my clients. She has a convincing practice in Austin, Texas. Her site is a standard HTML website and it continues to function well several years after I built it. All Julie has to pay for is the yearly domain registration and hosting cost. I only need to check it when new devices and/or operating systems come out, to make sure the site still displays properly. But basically the site requires none of my intervention (thus doesn't cost Julie anything on an ongoing basis). The CMS sites I manage require constant supervision and updates to the framework itself. Click here to read more about Julie D. Lee's website.
Even if you want to create a big website with extensive functionality, sometimes an HTML website is the way to go. My own personal website, www.margherder.com, is coded in standard HTML and features many galleries and audio players. However, it does have a blog built in and the blog uses a WordPress CMS framework.
HTML websites don't take up as much server space and don't require as much bandwidth as CMS sites. These two things are what hosting costs cover. HTML sites require hardly any routine maintenance. So often hosting is less expensive for standard HTML sites.
Let me take a second to make an important point. CMS websites, Content Management System websites, make extensive use of HTML, you can't have much a web page without HTML. But CMS websites use a back end interface that manages some of the HTML for the user, so it is easier to do updates without having to write the code.
Summary and Cost
So the advantages of HTML websites are:
- generally less expensive to build
- cheaper to maintain if you are not going to be changing information very frequently
- hosting often less expensive
The web is still all about HTML. It's not necessary to put your website in a CSS framework if you don't need it to be!
It's also easier to figure the cost of a standard HTML website without know all the parameters involved. Generally it will take about 10 hours of your designers time to come up with a design you like, code the template pages, and gather all the necessary information. More time for bigger sites, slightly less time for very small sites. Then it will take about one hour per page to code the site. Gallery pages (if you are good with Photoshop you can do much of the work yourself, and thus save money) and audio players take more time. So if you want a simple eight page website, you can guess it will take your designer about 18 hours to complete. Multiply that by their hourly rate and you have your price.