Static HTML Website vs Content Management System

In 2022, the most popular ways to build and publish a website are:

  1. content management systems such as Joomla or WordPress
  2. static HTML websites
  3. software as a service options such as Wix and Squarespace

Options 1 and 2, where you can choose your own hosting provider, make the most sense to me because you stay in control of your website and your investment is protected. CMS suppliers, template suppliers or hosting companies can go out of business but you can quickly restore your website from a backup to alternative hosting if necessary and continue business as usual.

With option 3, the service provider can implement changes at any time with little or no or warning and changes may not suit your particular requirements. If you are not happy with the direction the service provider is heading or if the service provider goes out of business, there is often no easy way to export or migrate your website to a format that can easily be restored elsewhere. Relying on one particular service provider risks the future of your business and the risk increases with the amount invested.

Given that I only recommend and provide options 1 and 2 (content management systems and static HTML websites), these are the two options which I compare below.

 Content Management SystemStatic HTML Website
Typical initial cost AU$750 to AU$3500 AU$750 to AU$1250
Annual maintenance cost from AU$390 per year nil
Annual hosting and domain name registration cost
from AU$100 per year from AU$60 per year
Page load performance Fast Fastest
Updates  Easy Requires basic understanding of HTML and FTP
Responsive template Yes Yes
SSL certificate Yes Yes
Analytics Yes Yes
Basic search engine optimisation such as search engine friendly urls, unique page titles, page headings and meta descriptions for each page Yes Yes
Basic features such as contact forms, slideshows and galleries Yes Yes
Advanced features such as booking systems, directories, e-commerce, custom forms, surveys, member only section of website, forums, event management and so on Yes No
 Examples

In summary:

Content management systems such as Joomla and WordPress are best suited for websites requiring more advanced features or for websites that are updated regularly such as every week or every month. Ongoing maintenance fees start at around AU$39 per month.

Static HTML websites are best suited for simple websites where the website might only be updated a few times a year. Ongoing maintenance fees cost little or nothing.

Remember to allow at least $100 per year for website hosting and domain registration which you will need with a CMS or static website.

 

LiteSpeed Cache for Joomla

Joomla plus LiteSpeed

For websites hosted on LiteSpeed servers, LiteSpeed Cache dramatically improves performance.

LiteSpeed Cache has been available for a while and there are ways this can be enabled in Joomla by editing your .htaccess file.

Since May 2018, LiteSpeed Cache is now much easier to enable and configure on Joomla 3.x websites by installing the Joomla LiteSpeed Cache extension from LiteSpeed.

Installation

The install package is installed normally via the Joomla installer and installs a LiteSpeed Cache Component and a LiteSpeed Cache Plugin which are both enabled by default during the install. The default settings seem reasonable.

The LiteSpeed Cache has some server requirements. if you're not sure whether your server complies, it's fairly easy to download the Joomla LiteSpeed Cache extension, install and verify whether it's working or not.

Testing

I have tested the Joomla LiteSpeed Cache extension on a few hosting plans and so far have found it works on:

I will add to this list as I discover other web hosting plans this works with.

From the few examples I have tried so far, web pages are typically loading three times as fast with the LiteSpeed Cache enabled.

performance improvement

Clearing the LiteSpeed Cache

The LiteSpeed Cache can be purged via Components -> LiteSpeed Cache -> Purge All LiteSpeed Cache.

More Information

For more information, see the following:

Move My Website to a Better Web Hosting Company

Moving a website to a new web host typically takes a couple of hours or around $176 and includes:

  • backing up the current website
  • finding the most suitable web hosting company for your particular website within your budget
  • purchasing a new web hosting plan on your behalf
  • restoring the website to the new web host
  • updating the domain name to point to the new host
  • testing
  • forwarding any orphaned emails on the old host to the new host
  • optionally moving your domain name to the new service provider

Note that you will be moving to a better web hosting company and for most of my clients this is often a cheaper web hosting company so that the cost of the move is soon recovered.

Contact me to enquire about moving web hosts.

Massive SiteGround Price Increase

SiteGround No Longer Recommended

After moving my own websites to SiteGround a few years ago and encouraging a few clients in the same direction, it has been very disappointing to discover that SiteGround have massively increased their prices on their shared hosting (and possibly other services) in June 2018.

Unfortunately, SiteGround don't show GST inclusive pricing (in contravention of the Australian component pricing laws). Once GST is added, the GrowBig plan actually changes from AU$178.20 (what I paid last year) to AU$329.34 which is a massive 85% price increase.

June 2020 Update: Not satisfied with the massive price increase in 2018, SiteGround have yet again increased their prices. The regular price of the GrowBig plan is now AU$395.87 per year (including GST).

This is a separate issue to SiteGround's deceptively low introductory prices (which revert to the full price when plans are renewed after the first year).

As far as I am aware there has been no blog post or other announcement and the first clients usually become aware of the price increase is when they receive their renewal notice four weeks before their hosting expires. This does not leave budget conscious customers much time to find an alternative host and also burdens them with the cost of the move if they choose to go elsewhere.

The official explanation seems to be that many new features have been added and the increase brings them to similar value for money as their competitors. I don't dispute any of this but surely new features could have been added as an option rather than forcing the features and resultant price increase on clients who may not need or use the new features? I suspect SiteGround have done their homework and many clients will grudgingly pay the increased price rather than work out how to move their business elsewhere as this does not seem like a trivial task to most clients (although it is usually fairly easy to do).

The most promising alternative hosting providers with a Singapore data center option are:

The other option expecially for Australian website owners is to bring the websites home to Zuver or VentraIP and enable a CDN such as CloudFlare or similar. Speeding up websites with the VentraIP "Starter", "Freedom" and "Premier" shared hosting plans is possible by installing the free Joomla 3.x LiteSpeed Cache extension released in May 2018. This improves performance significantly so website visitors across the globe are still able to load web pages quickly even when they are hosted in Australia. For more information see: LiteSpeed Cache for Joomla. The VentraIP "Starter" plan @ AU$120.00/year with LiteSpeed Cache enabled performs as well as, and is less than half the cost of, the SiteGround "Growbig" plan @ AU$329.34/year with Dynamic Cache enabled.

Although SiteGround don't seem to have made any official announcement, they are very quick to answer any complaints on social media including the post I made on the Webilicious Facebook Page (which only has about 100 followers!) and also a post I submitted to the Whirlpool Forums.

Clients who are still hosting their websites with SiteGround should check their renewal dates and plan accordingly.

Renewal notices are sent out 30 days in advance of renewal but credit cards are billed two weeks before the renewal date if you have Autorenew enabled. If you need a little more time to move the website, you can disable Autorenew by logging in to the hosting control panel and going to Billing -> Billing Settings:

Disable Siteground Autorenew

Move My Website to a Better Web Hosting Company

Moving a website to a new web host typically takes a couple of hours or around $176 and includes:

  • backing up the current website
  • finding the most suitable web hosting company for your particular website within your budget
  • purchasing a new web hosting plan on your behalf
  • restoring the website to the new web host
  • updating the domain name to point to the new host
  • testing
  • forwarding any orphaned emails on the old host to the new host
  • optionally moving your domain name to the new service provider

Note that you will be moving to a better web hosting company and for most of my clients this is often a cheaper web hosting company so that the cost of the move is soon recovered.

Contact me to enquire about moving web hosts.

A Complete Guide to Changing Your Joomla Website from HTTP to HTTPS

https

Why Change your Website to HTTPS?

Implementing HTTPS improves the security of your website and helps keep communication to and from the website secure.

Websites with HTTPS may rank higher in search engines.

HTTPS enabled websites show a padlock to website visitors so they are more likely to trust the website (especially if it is an e-commerce website) or a website that stores personal client data.

1. Enabling HTTPS

With the introduction of free SSL certificates (e.g. from Let's Encrypt), you may find that HTTPS is already enabled for your domain or it can be enabled in a few clicks in the control panel. Browsing to the https version of your website will tell you immediately if https is enabled or not.

SiteGround

  • Login to cPanel and click on "Let's Encrypt"
  • Check that the SSL certificate is already installed for the relevant domain
  • Let's Encrypt certificates are automatically renewed

VentraIP Legacy Economy and Business cPanel Accounts

  • Log in to https://vip.ventraip.com.au and go to Shared Hosting -> Manage -> [Domain Name] -> Let's Encrypt SSL
  • Click on "Install" to install the Let's Encrypt certificate for your domain, if it's not already installed
  • Let's Encrypt certificates are automatically renewed

VentraIP Newer cPanel Accounts

  • Log in to https://vip.ventraip.com.au and go to Shared Hosting -> Manage -> [Domain Name] -> AutoSSL
  • Click on "Start AutoSSL Check" to initiate the installation of the AutoSSL certificate for your domain and follow the prompts to complete the installation, if it's not already installed
  • AutoSSL certificates are automatically renewed

Zuver

  • Log in to https://my.zuver.net.au and go to Hosting Services -> Manage -> [Domain Name] -> Let's Encrypt
  • Click on "Install" to install the Let's Encrypt certificate for your domain, if it's not already installed
  • Let's Encrypt certificates are automatically renewed

Check that https is enabled by browsing to the https version of your website. You should see a green padlock or similar near the url in your web browser.

2. Joomla

Log in to the back-end of the Joomla website and set System -> Global Configuration -> Server -> Force HTTPS to "Entire Site".

3. htaccess

Redirect the HTTP version of the website to HTTPS by adding the following at the end of the .htaccess file:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [R=301,L]

4. Fix Mixed Content

Update any remaining http links to https links so website visitors don't see mixed content warnings in their browsers. The following and similar tools can help identify remaining http links:

  • HTTPS Checker is a desktop application for Windows, Mac or Linux and the free version allows you to crawl up to 500 pages
  • SSL Error Checker is an online tool which checks a single URL
  • WhyNoPadlock is an online tool which checks a single URL

4.1 Akeeba Admin Tools

If the http links can't easily be changed to https (or there are too many to easily change manually), the links can be converted automatically to https using an option in the free or the paid version of Akeeba Admin Tools. This option can be found at Components -> Admin Tools -> SEO and Link Tools -> Convert all links to HTTPS when site is accessed over SSL.

4.2 Regular Labs ReReplacer

The free or paid version of Regular Labs ReReplacer can be used to change all https:// references in the source code to https:// although this is a fairly heavy handed approach and you'd need to check your website is still working as expected after implementing this change.

If using ReReplacer, you could use a link checker such as one of the following to check for broken links:

5. robots.txt

Update http:// references in your robots.txt file to https:// where appropriate.

6. Google Search Console (aka Webmaster Tools)

Add the https version of the website to Search Console and submit the https:// version of the sitemap. Remember to resubmit your site map for the https version of the website.

7. Google Analytics

Change the Property setting of the website from http:// to https://

8. Social Networks

Social Networks usually treat the https version of the website as a separate website so you may have to start from zero again with your "share" and "like" counts. This can sometimes be worked around by choosing an option in your social network extension (e.g. Fast Social Share) to continue to display the share and like counts from the http version of the website until you have collected sufficient shares and likes on the https version of the website.

9. Automatic SSL Certificate Renewal

Let's Encrypt SSL certificates seem to be valid for 90 days and should auto renew 30 days before expiry (at least this is the case on SiteGround). Unfortunately the renewal process sometimes fails. Let's Encrypt certificates are issued for the domain and also any subdomains associated with the main domain e.g. mail.domain-name.com at the time the certificate is created. If the subdomains change in any way during the life of the certificate, the original certificate must be manually cancelled in favour of a new certificate. Assuming your subdomains don't change, then the next renewal should go through as expected.

March 2018 Update:

SiteGround now offer free "wildcard" Let's Encrypt SSL certificates which probably fixes the automatic renewal failure problem.