These days, dynamic websites are well within the reach of every web designer. We often don’t think twice about using tools such as WordPress or Drupal to power our next great project. Their functionality and flexibility make producing data-driven websites easier than ever before. But it wasn’t always this way.
The web started out as a mostly static affair. Plain old HTML was and still is, the basis of a site. But back in the day, the ability to dynamically generate content wasn’t widely available to the average designer.
Part of the problem with using static HTML, for me at least, was the fact that it was forced into duties it should have never had in the first place. The intended use for HTML was as a markup language – not as a means to manage complex arrangements of files. But for websites built on a small budget, it was pretty much the best tool we had at the time.
As you might recall, we used to use HTML for all sorts of things that it wasn’t intended to do. Remember using nested tables to hack your way through a page layout? Through no fault of its own, HTML became a whipping boy for how not to do things.
Even today, I still manage a few really old sites that were built this way. And each time I have to make a change, I’m reminded of the mess I made. It’s no secret that something like WordPress is far better for managing content, just like CSS is far better for creating layouts.
However, I now realize that static HTML sites can still have a place on the web – provided we use it in the right way and under the right circumstances.