You have heard your friends with websites bantering about terms like "static and dynamic," They say things like Dreamweaver, HTML and CSS. One friend smirks and says, "Why do all the heavy lifting yourself? CMS is the way to go." You are are wondering, what is a Drupal, a Joomla, or a WordPress. Your head may be spinning, and you are thinking; forget this, I'll stick to my business card and e-mail address.
Don't give up yet, it's not as mind boggling as it seems. You just need to learn some new vocabulary words.
There are basically two different types of websites. The traditional website based on pages of HTML (pages that contain web language code and create your site's structure) and CSS (pages that format or style your site). These websites can be static or informational only, or they can be dynamic in that there are programs running within your pages that cause interaction between the site and the user. In the traditional website model, the HTML pages and the CSS pages are stored on a web server (a piece of computer software that can respond to a browser's request for a page, and deliver the page to the Web browser through the Internet. (How Stuff Works), a user (you) is sitting at a computer using a web browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, etc.), you type in a web address (URL) and your web browser connects to the web server and requests the specific web page, the web server gets the page, sends it back to your web browser, your web browser interprets the HTML and CSS, and presto you see the web page in your browser.
The other type of website is a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS is software that resides on a server and replaces web pages as a means of displaying a website. The pages do not exist and instead are created from a database on-the-fly, by the CMS software. (A3webtech).
These definitions are somewhat oversimplified, but this article is not meant as a tutorial on web development.
So back to the main question, what kind of website will meet your needs. Let's look at the advantages/disadvantages of both to give you some tools to make your decision.
Advantages of traditional websites are you can be very specific regarding what you want on your site. Your site is hand coded and therefore tailored to you needs. They tend to load quickly. They have can have an elegant design, because the CSS is hand coded as well. They are created and maintained by web developers/designers and tend to be more controlled, cohesive and fluid. They may have a lower up front cost.
The disadvantages are companies are dependent on the developer/designer to make content changes. They don't provide a lot of interaction between the site and the user. They can have a higher long term cost due to maintenance fees.
CMS advantages are their ability to interact with users. They allow multiple users to update content based on permissions and roles assigned to them. Content can be managed online. Websites are built using independent modules, so they can be up and running quickly out of the box. They can be less expensive in the long run, since they are maintained by users for the most part.
The disadvantages are you may be limited to the modules that have already been created. There is a learning curve and training involved for the users that have permission to make changes to the site. The site must be moderated to avoid inappropriate content being posted to the site through blogs, comments, and discussions. Multiple users can sometimes create confusion and giving a less fluid and cohesive feel to the site.
So there you go. A little bit of information to get you off the information fence and onto the information highway. And as it is with all information, a little bit can be a dangerous thing. Be sure to talk to a web developer and/or designer; explaining your needs fully can save you and them in the long run.