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A question I’m often asked by people when they request a quote is, will I be able to update the website myself? A lot of people, quite rightly, are concerned that after paying for a website they will be stuck with expensive monthly retainers. By way of reference, here I present a bit of information and advice on the subject to help you get the most cost-effective website.

Static content vs. dynamic content

To answer the question, we must consider the two core types of content on websites: static and dynamic. Static content refers to content that doesn’t change (or at least doesn’t change very often) whereas dynamic content is generated by a back-end system, usually a database. Such back-end systems are known as content management systems, or CMS for short. Although CMSs can be very complex the main idea behind them is they allow the user to manage website content without the need of technical expertise. A CMS is typically a set of password-protected web pages that have a series of forms you can use to add, modify and delete content. A CMS for example might allow you to add stock to your eCommerce website or add a PDF to your latest news section.

In terms of cost, static content is cheaper to develop but it means you have to get the web designer to update it for you whereas content managed by a back-end system is more expensive to develop initially but it gives you control over the site. Which option should you go for?

Three questions

To answer that you need to ask yourself three questions: which sections do you want to update, why do you want to update them and how often? People often request updatable sections in their website brief as a knee-jerk reaction to the concern mentioned in the introduction: they want to save themselves the cost of a monthly retainer. But it’s not as simple as that. You don’t want to pay for a CMS only to use it once or twice a year and conversely you don’t want to keep paying – and waiting for – a web designer to update your content every week or month.

My rule of thumb

As a rule of thumb I recommend to my clients that if the frequency of updates to a particular section of their site is more than once a month then go down the CMS route, otherwise pay me a nominal fee quarterly, bi-annually or annually to update the sites for them. There are of course exceptions and I take each one on a site-by-site basis.


I always strive to get the best value-for-money for my clients; I have come across many other web designers who do the exact opposite. Some sell them a CMS they don’t need and other refuse a CMS where one is needed so they can charge an exorbitant amount in retaining costs.

For more help and information on updating websites get a free quote for updating your website or call me right now on 07843 483 078.

Tim Bennett is a web designer and developer. He has a First Class Honours degree in Computing from Leeds Metropolitan University and currently runs his own one-man web design company, Texelate.