Written by Charles Gray

I service 3 types of websites, HTML, CMS and E-Commerce.  I do not create E-Commerce sites but I do offer consultation. I have built about 10 and I usually recommend using an E-Commerce hosting service such as Volusion or Big Commerce.  In the following paragraphs I will attempt to help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of all three:

HTML vs. CMS vs. E-Commerce


These types of sites are popular with professionals needing an Internet presence but rarely change the content. Also known as brochure sites, these sites act as a marketing tool for the business and consist of 1 to 3 pages.


  • Faster loading pages
  • Faster loading times get better results


  • Each page of the site has to be created by developer
  • Technical knowledge is required to make updates

These sites are better suited for non-profits and other member-based organizations or small businesses such as restaurants that have content that is frequently being updated such as newsletters, calendars and menus.


  • User friendly interface
  • Little or No technical knowledge required
  • Expands with business needs
  • Theme and Content are separate. This means style changes are easier to make.
  • 1000’s of expansions can be added at little or no cost


  • Slower initial load time
  • Require regular scheduled maintenance such as backup and component updates

These are for businesses that have a need to sell products online. They are basically a CMS front-end with an inventory control and payment gateway on the back-end. Although you can sell products and services on HTML and CMS using third party payment gateways such as PayPal there is a much more serious effort by these programs to offer everything from customer relations, marketing and inventory control. Some business owners will open an online store and use it strictly for liquidating older inventory.


  • Lower overhead with product sales
  • Open 24/7
  • Improved customer marketing
  • Good way to move slow moving products


  • Setup is time consuming and usually takes more than one person to complete.
  • If you have a physical store keeping your inventory in sync with online store can be difficult
  • If you already own a brick and motor business then this can be seen as opening another store and all the “management issues” that goes with it.
  • Could prove challenging for someone who has never shipped merchandise before.



I'll help you figure this out but it's always good to get a basic understanding of what's out there.  Bottom line, if you have a small practice like a law firm or life insurance company or perhaps you're trying to raise money and just need the occasional update then HTML is probably the way to go.  If you're building a community of users for a club or team or say the charity site has grown and needs to be updated more frequently then you probably want to get into the CMS realm.  Finally, if you're the owner of a company that has inventory for sale then E-Commerce is your best bet.