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CMS for large web site versus pure HTML

 
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Consider a large web site for a city that adds as many as 100 documents to the site each month. The documents will not change after being posted, they are things like council meeting minutes, meeting schedules, resolutions passed to manage the community, clubs, summer events, community resources , etc. The city wants the documents to remain even after they are no longer current so they can be searched for historical information -- for instance the users could see when a resolution passed, who voted for it, and how long ago it was applied. It is critical that the web site stays light for old machines. It is critical that it is fully accessible to disabled users. It would need to be searchable by all engines.

I think there is merit in writing a site like this in plain HTML with CSS3. Other techies I know debate and think a CMS system would be better.

If the site were being supported by a developers (and techies to convert the documents) , not by non-technical people, do others think HTML would be better ?
 
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I have limited knowledge of CMS and I am not sure what CMS we are talking about here. From what I know, below are the bullet points.
  • CMS is a means to ease the publication of web content (which is mostly static IMO)
  • The UI changes can be rapid and centralized, like adding a new theme.
  • The website can remain light, accessible as well as searchable even with CMS.
  • In fact I don't see how CMS affects any of these requirements.
  • Even if developers maintain the site and content, it is time and cost consuming to frequently update/post new content.


  • I am not advocating use of CMS but I have a feeling that it might benefit you in long run. Since we are talking about starting now, few years from now the definition of light site and old machines will be different.
    CMS however will have its own requirements and it might appear as too much involved to start with.
    Plain old hand written HTML will always keep you in full control and meet your requirements for sure.

    Just my 2 cents.
     
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    I would certainly be leaning towards a CMS for this one. You say that it'll be devs and techies supporting and feeding in the new content, but I don't see that as a sustainable solution. It's poor use of resources when you're paying software developers and other technically skilled folks to do data entry. It just doesn't make sense and it'll only be a matter of time until someone else in the company realises that too.

    With a CMS the devs can support the application and add new features as is normal with any software product. But the non technical tasks such as managing the content can be done by anyone with a little training on the CMS system.
     
    margaret gillon
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    The CMS does seem logical because I agree at some point the managers are going to want to cut the costs of having all documents converted by coders and they would be happier if administrative staff could modify the web site. But CMS seem to have many added costs. Say we are talking about Drupal. I have seen vendors quote for up to 120K to set up the Drupal. A vendor has to set it up and design it for the company. Many vendors that do the set up also provide the hosting. I have looked at pricing and a hosted 30GB Drupal site is around 400 dollars a month. I have seen quotes of 1,000 a month for 50GB Drupal hosting. Then the vendor has to be retained in case there are issues with the Drupal that require tech support. Normally it runs on mysql and I although Drupal is open source not all of mysql is open source and I think there are license fees now at some level.

    Also I still can't find out if Drupal is accessible. I see threads about accessibility on their web site in the support rooms but not much on the main site.
     
    Amit Ghorpade
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    margaret gillon wrote: Say we are talking about Drupal. I have seen vendors quote for up to 120K to set up the Drupal.


    Why pay to setup Drupal? I used it once and it was included in the hosting package we bought. And the package was quite cheap by the way.
    All we had to do was some basic config and activate Drupal stuff. Anyone could do that (only the part we needed) with little technical knowledge.
    However, this has a limitation that one needs to stick to the Drupal version provided by the hosting guys. And they do upgrade the versions from time to time.

    margaret gillon wrote:Normally it runs on mysql and I although Drupal is open source not all of mysql is open source and I think there are license fees now at some level.


    Since you won't be relying much on the DB stuff, I don't think you will need paid support for the DB as such.
    But then it all depends on how much mission critical application(s)/ data you have and the uptime requirements,etc.

    margaret gillon wrote:Also I still can't find out if Drupal is accessible. I see threads about accessibility on their web site in the support rooms but not much on the main site.


    Hmmm. A quick search brought up this page. Though I could not take a better look, it gives an idea that Drupal is accessibility aware.
     
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    margaret gillon wrote:

    If the site were being supported by a developers (and techies to convert the documents) , not by non-technical people, do others think HTML would be better ?



    Definitely not. We typically achieve the same goals by using reverse proxies and a caching strategy to avoid hitting the dynamically generated page servers unnecessarily.

    Your idea is very old school although I have done exactly what you are suggesting back then. But nowadays, please don't go that way ;-)

    Cheers,

     
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    Given that you want to add as many as 100 documents to the site each month, using only HTML without any CMS will quickly create a huge mess. Making any changes in the website will be a huge problem, or not possible at all.

    What I would do is to put a CMS server behind a cache server. Your employees will have the ease of adding the content in a friendly way, with possibility to easily modify the website when needed. The cache server will cache all the content generated by CMS, making it work almost the same as serving static HTML content. Very cheap and efficient solution.

    Those prices for Drupal setup and the hosting are terrible. Take a look at the Vacares hosting offer, I work in it's parent company. With pleasure we can provide you hosting service tuned exactly to your needs, including the configuration I mentioned above and it's support (I would take care of it myself).
     
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