Hey, you don't need a $#%@&$ CMS.

by Noah Larsen

Everybody, including your mother, has told you that you need a Content Management System (CMS). You, yourself, feel as if you need instant access to the content on your website. The truth is that, unless generating content is part of your business model (i.e. N.Y. Times or Perez Hilton), you don't need a CMS. Furthermore, it's likely costing you time, money, security and page rank.

You simply aren't going to update your site

I know, you're totally excited about your new website. You think that you are going to log on everyday, ok, once a week at least, to update the content. That's a lie. Here are three things to consider:

  1. You have other tasks to complete that are much more important to your business than updating your site, like finding customers.
  2. If you are extremely concerned about your content (which you should be), you will hire a professional copywriter while you are building your site to get your message right. After that, polishing it every 4 to 6 months as the voice of your brand evolves seems appropriate.
  3. There are other, non-cms ways to make your site feel dynamic — widgets are a prime example or pulling in content that you can update elsewhere, like a Twitter or Tumblr feed.

Your CMS as a concrete block

You are paying a really high price for the constant access that you are likely not using enough.

The most important thing to understand is that your CMS is having to do a lot of work to generate pages for your visitors. This work takes time. That time not only slows down the speed at which your visitors view the page, but also negatively impacts your SEO. We don't know everything that goes into Google's secret sauce, but we do know that page speed is high on their list.

Another thing to know about CMSs is that they add multiple layers of vulnerabilities. In other words, there are many more points of attack for hackers to gain access and spread their nasty business around — particularly if you are using a popular CMS, like WordPress or Drupal.

What the hell do I do then?

Simple - static HTML, CSS, and Javascript. We recommend Middleman. Middleman is a static site generator written in Ruby. That means that we build fancy data-driven websites locally that ultimately get converted to static HTML pages and deployed anywhere... seriously, anywhere, for cheap (think S3 or BitBalloon for ~$5/mo.). This not only means that your site will be obnoxiously fast, but it will also have an uptime that pushes 100%. Think this isn't realistic? Check out dojo4.com - a static site built in middleman and served by S3 - and we even have a blog!

In my experience, the arguments for having a CMS-backed website are becoming fewer and fewer by the day. Be smart. Be simple. Be static.