Just what is a website exactly? Well by definition, anything connected to the World Wide Web.
In reality it could be hand coded pages, a blog, a shopping cart, or any other number of database driven applications. But all most people see is a “website”.
So you see, when a client comes to me and wants a web site it can mean many things.
What is the difference? Let’s start with a hand coded site. This is exactly what it says, hand coded, written by a human and, to get the most out the search engines, this is the only way to go.
I say this because clean code is very important to search engine placement. This includes the placement of key worded content, images, and accessory scripts. And follows rules like content to code ratio and site load speed to name a couple. On the optimization side there are rules like the ratio of keywords in the content, page titles, and link text. This is the short list.
Next is application software as mentioned above. These are more akin to applications and are ‘installed’ rather than written. Artwork and content are added during the setup.
Blogs and content management systems (CMS) are both software designed to let an end user modify and change their site. The CMS software being much more powerful in scope and options than blog software. Blogs are popular because they are easy to setup and more important to the end user, easy to use and update. There are many options and plug-ins available. On the optimization side they are quite limited. To help with search optimization we often create an index / landing page that looks like the application but actually links to it.
Shopping carts, reservation systems, point of sale systems (POS) called transaction software. Again these are database driven, artwork and content are added during the setup. The administration back side handles everything from credit card processing through inventory control. They also have many built in marketing and email tools. Again from the optimization side they are quite limited. As with blogs and CMS software we often create a search engine friendly landing page.
For a website to work it has to be a blend of design, scripting, marketing and it all has to be balanced correctly. You do not get this kind of expertise, control and level of optimization with application software. These include content management systems (CMS), blogs, shopping carts etc. What you get is less cost and minute control to do what you want when you want, but warning there is a steep learning curve especially with a CMS.