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Tips for Converting a Content Management System/CMS site to a HTML static site

If you feel always having to upgrade your Content Management system website/CMS like Joomla 1.5, Drupal 6, WordPress 3, doing database maintenance, and checking for updates for installed plug-in, themes uses too much of your time, it can be a good idea to  convert your CMS website to a static HTML website.

By using a static website, you no longer have to update your CMS, do database maintenance, and update and manage plug-ins. There is also less chance of dataloss since all your articles are on your hard drive as well as your FTP web server unlike CMS database driven websites which have your articles stored on a database files, so if you forgot to backup your database, and your database becomes corrupt, or lost. All your articles may be gone for good unless you wrote your articles in MS Word or notepad on your computer.

HTML websites are also easier to move/reupload from one web host to another since HTML websites and its images usually only take up a few MBs in space for a small brochure style website. You also do not have to reconnect the database file to the config.php file for html websites. I also have more selection when picking web hosts since HTML websites can be hosted on most web hosting services even free web hosts, and run smoothly which is not always true for a CMS website running on Joomla, WordPress, Drupal, etc which need a more expensive web host when running a website with a decent amount of traffic, and lots of plug-ins installed.

Although, you lose interactive functionality like user comments, and changing the theme of a HTML static website needs more time since you need to edit every HTML file for the changes to be shown on every HTML page.

The first step is making a theme with Dreamweaver, Frontpage, or you can hand code your theme file in Notepad or any other text editor.

There are also a lot of free and paid to download HTML themes you can buy online.

Once you got your themes, you can copy and paste your articles onto your template you bought, made or downloaded. You can also log-in to your CMS to copy your articles in your articles directory then copy the HTML from your articles and paste the HTML code in the content section of your HTML template.

It is best to name your html files with descriptive test like article-name-here.htm . Also remember to give your HTML file a title, and meta description in your HTML files meta tags.

Each article needs a separate HTML file. You can later link the file on your homepage, header, footer or sidebar.

The benefits of a HTML website is you can edit it from your computer, so you do not have to always log-in to your website with a web browser to edit an article.

However, you need to upload and replace the old html file with the new one to publish the article.

HTML websites use less bandwidth, ram, cpu resources, load faster and handle more users then CMS websites on cheaper shared web hosting. Plus, you do not have to worry about the MySQL database server being down on a HTML website.

HTML websites are also very secure as long as you don’t share your FTP and SSH passwords with anyone. HTML websites are just text files which are on your web server for people to view with web browsers unlike CMS websites which run via php and databases which can be vulnerable to php and mySQL injections which can cause your website to get hijacked.

It is best to do a 301 redirect in your .htaccess file in your root directory to redirect your old url names to your new url filenames which look like file-name.htm.

A 301 redirect looks like

redirect 301 /pathname http://www.johnsonyip.com/pathname.htm

You place this line in your .Htacess file in your root directory.

Unfortunately, with Joomla 1.5 which have weird URL structures like index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=2 ,  it might not be possible or very hard to do a 301 redirect, so the best thing you can do is sign up for a Google Webmaster account and Bing web Master account, and request that they remove your old search results for pages which no longer exists anymore on your Joomla site.

You can search “your-domain.com/index.php?” in Google and Bing and copy down the domain URL in Notepad. Then use your list of deleted URLs and individually fell out the form in Google and Bing Webmaster to tell Google and Bing to remove your deleted URLs.

Backup your CMS files before you delete your CMS files just in case you want to go back to a CMS style site rather then a static HTML site.

Also, do not delete your CMS image directory since it will cause your HTML files to have broken images if you just copied and paste your CMS article html source code to your HTML template files since the picture files in your articles point to picture files uploaded to your image directory on your CMS.

To get your new HTML static website indexed faster by search engines, you should post on blogs, forums, and social networking and bookmarking sites, so search engines can discover your new pages faster. Also, you might get more traffic to your new HTML website.

It takes a few days to convert a CMS to a static website in my experience, but if you only have a few articles, it takes only an hour or two.

It took me a week of working a few hours a day to convert my Windows Computer Help Website with about 60 articles which was running Joomla 1.5 to a static HTML website.

Now, I no longer have to go to Joomla.org and check if there is an update for Joomla and plug-ins I’m using. I can just upload my HTML website and let it be hosted on my web server for people to view.

I’m not complaining about Joomla or any other CMS. Joomla has serve me well for the last few years. It is just too advance for my needs which is hosting a simple computer help brochure style website. Joomla, Drupal, WordPress are better for blogs, article directories, and websites with multiple authors who are publishing multiple articles a day, or websites which like to change their template, sidebar, header, or footer very often.

2 comments… add one
  • Steve @ Redirect Virus May 6, 2011, 12:45 am

    Gutsy call, isn’t it, to move away from CMS and back to HTML? Like being the first person your age to realize the old days really were better ;-). I can see how it takes away some hassle, so for some clearly defined sites it may be worth it. But hard to deny the flexibility of CMSs, unless you know exactly what you want our of your static site…

  • Johnson Yip May 6, 2011, 6:39 pm

    Hi Steve, indeed, it can be risky moving away to a CMS which is flexible and easy to use, but with a HTML website I can leave it without the need to do maintenance on the backend, database, and configuring the server. I recently change my Resume website back to a HTML site because it only had a few pages which are objective, education, work experience, qualifications, references, so I felt for a website which changes so little, a HTML brochure style site would be better in the long run since the content rarely changes, and it would just take an hour or more to change the template if I wanted to do a redesign by picking a new template.

    I agree that a CMS can be a good way to start a website since it is very simple to edit and add new links to the navigation sidebars and top header bar, and writing and organizing content is simpler for some people. However, the on going maintenance, CMS upgrades, and other tasks can be time consuming in the long run which takes some time away from other tasks like writing Guest posts, blog commenting, and marketing.

    But, If you have a clear plane for a static brochure style website then HTML can be the way to go since you can just make the website and write the content for the website, and just host it on your web server and not worry about getting a medium spike in traffic since HTML website can handle more traffic on a decent shared web hosts compared to a CMS on the same shared webhosts which may have problems keeping up with the traffic spike because of the increase database calls, CPU and RAM usages caused by the increase in users.

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