First, How a Website Works
A website is a bunch of files filled with the contents of a website and coding called HTML and CSS (and others) that your browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, etc.) reads to know how to put together a website. That coding includes things like box sizes, placement, types of borders, and font style, size and colors.
When you call up a website by either typing the address in your browser’s address field or click on a link to it on another website or an email, that website’s server sends those files to your computer or smart phone and your browser reads the files and puts together a website for you to see according to the instructions given by the website designer in those files sent to you.
Also included in the HTML and CSS coding can be scripts, little bits of instructions to your browser to move things around when you move your curser or pull in some information from another website.
Notice how in this scenario your browser is doing a lot of work. This is called client-side scripting.
A Content Management System is More Efficient
A Content Management System like WordPress adds another dimension. Those files sent to your device can also include further instructions to do other things depending on what you (the client) does. If you click on a menu item, for example, instead of your computer asking the server to send out a page already sitting there just waiting for you to ask for it, a message is sent back to the server to pull together several pieces of information and construct a page to send back to your browser. Some of those pieces of information include different headers depending on what page you ask for, different footers, different sidebars, and different content to put in those sidebars depending on, well, anything the website designer wants to make it depend on.
This is called server-side scripting because the server is put to work putting your website pages together for you to look at. There’s a big advantage to doing it this way if the website has a lot of information and that is your computer doesn’t get overloaded with work to do. If the website has over 200 pages (like the one you are looking at) it doesn’t have to keep 200 copies of headers and footers. It may only need to store 2 or 3 footers and headers which are called up by the server according to instructions given it in accordance to what you as the client do in terms of what you click on.
This is simply a more efficient way to create a webpage, particularly if the website has a lot of pictures, products, or blog posts. Not only that, it gives website owners and web designers a lot of flexibility because content can be added to what is displayed on your browser according to a ton of different variables, like which category of product the client wants to look at or pictures can be categorized by the website owner to make surfing easier.
Content Management Systems Work Better for Website Owners and Designers
Up until now we’ve been talking about website efficiency from your poor, overworked computer’s standpoint, but what about the website owner? As the name implies, a Content Management System (CMS) is designed to better manage content and more specifically manage it in a dynamic way that serves the purposes of the website owner and end user. A static site, one that is just “parked” on the internet until the owner decides to spend a bunch of money to make a change, is not able to be easily changed to reflect changes in the website owner’s goals and product or service offerings. CMS’s provide a website that can be updated on a daily (or as often as he wants) basis by the owner without knowing how to do any coding. In other words, it doesn’t take any web design knowledge at all to become a blogging maniac!
Open Source Content Management Systems Are Developing Rapidly to Better Serve Website Owners
As the rapid pace of development continues expect to see more and more websites designed using Open Source CMS’s. WordPress stands to increase market share in website platforms more than others simply because it already has the biggest market share with about 20% of all websites and over half of CMS’s being built today using it as a platform. Web designers such as myself go with the one that is the most successful because it will have the biggest selection of free and premium themes and plugins and it’s easier to find other designers who already know the platform. We also know it will be easier for our clients to get local help if they should need it in the future since the majority of local web developers understand and use WordPress.