In 2024, 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

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.