Suggest a basic, cheap CMS or templating engine


I run a software company selling downloadable software. Currently my site is written entirely in HTML, using a text editor. I upload it by FTP.

The chief problem I have identified with this approach is duplication. The following items are duplicated in every page:

  • Logo
  • Header
  • Footer
  • Common links (e.g. the link to my download page is in many different places)

This becomes a maintenance nightmare.

I want some way to resolve this. I want:
- Templates - e.g. for the header and footer
- Variables - e.g. to reference common links

I want the solution to allow plain HTML coding.

It has to be cheap, say less than $15/£10 a month.

What is the next step after plain HTML?

Edit - I've found that there are different classes of these systems:
- Static site generators ( )
- Dynamic server side

I tend to prefer the first, because the simpler hosting keeps my costs low.


asked Nov 5 '09 at 20:28
Dan Gravell
341 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

6 Answers


You should check out Joomla, Drupal or WordPress.

They are more than sufficient for your needs.

Checkout this question at

Another option that you can look at is Google Sites. It does everything you need.

Edit: All these CMSes are free; and all that you have to pay, is the domain name and the hosting space, which works out to be less than 40 usd per year, in my case.

answered Nov 5 '09 at 20:31
871 points
  • +1 for Drupal. I don't have any experience with Joomla. Wordpress doesn't have the all the power that the OP seems to be looking for, but drupal can handle that hands down. – Rob Allen 14 years ago


You can try to use a static site generator like Jekyll.

It's designed exactly to avoid the headers and footers duplication using a template mechanism.

A full blow Wordpress install is really powerful, but learning to use all this power can take a lot of time.

answered Nov 5 '09 at 21:15
Fabio Ferrari
321 points
  • I like the look of this. Given that it produces static HTML it means I can also stay on my cheap standard web hosting package. – Dan Gravell 14 years ago
  • I implemented Jekyll last night. It's great. I have awarded this response as the answer because it is closest to my immediate needs, but other responses are valid too for different situations I think. – Dan Gravell 14 years ago


Forget about CMS. It's very difficult to customize once your business needs something specific. I would suggest try django instead. See my reason why. It's very easy to get running, but it doesn't tied you from doing anything specific.

answered Nov 5 '09 at 22:31
1,342 points
  • Django looks nice but it's almost too powerful. I don't need a fully dynamic website, I just want to remove duplication. Also are there hosted django options available? – Dan Gravell 14 years ago
  • @Dan: It's worth mentioning that there are static site generators build on Django's template system, for example [Hyde][1] or [AymCMS][2]. This way, you get a fast web site without duplicating efforts and you can extend it easily if you ever need to. [1]: [2]: Schwarm 14 years ago
  • @dan, you can try, I think it is quite affordable – Jpartogi 14 years ago


the greatest and simplest cms i encountered is cant recommend enough. no databases, just adjust to your liking and upload to the server.

answered Nov 5 '09 at 21:57
131 points


Joomla I find is easier to use than Drupal, however they both have many 3rd party add-ons which make either of them very versatile. I prefer Joomla both for ease of use and more third party extensions.

answered May 6 '11 at 02:40
509 points


CityDesk might fit your needs: A 50 page version is free. It's Windows software where you componentize your pages just as you describe and then CityDesk puts them together and generates the final HTML pages.

answered Nov 7 '09 at 16:13
379 points
  • Sounds ideal. Unfortunately I'm a Linux user... (apologies for not mentioning) – Dan Gravell 14 years ago
  • Why the negative? – Pbreit 14 years ago
  • is citydesk even maintained anymore? When was the last update? Why not use something that actually has other users? – Tim J 13 years ago

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