WordPress vs Pico CMS vs static HTML

I have been agonizing over the decision whether to use WordPress to manage my website or go with a flat-file approach. WordPress is clearly the easier route – it comes ready to install via cPanel with my web host, is essentially plug and play, and boasts a huge library of widgets and plug-ins to help get the site published, relatable, and SEO-friendly.

Despite all that, I still don’t like it.

Pico is a flat-file CMS that I find really appealing. If I knew just a little more about the basics of web hosting – how to install Pico on my server, for example – I would likely go this route. Obviously, the only way to learn a new skill is through doing it, so I intend to launch a dev site based in Pico. I’m excited to begin building my web skills with this stupidly simple, blazing fast flat-file CMS.

When making decisions, I try to make use of every available resource, those that I would call “high value” resources in particular. Derek Sivers is an example of such a resource. Despite being an extremely successful and relatively private person, I know him to be quite approachable. He also places a ton of value in autonomy, simplicity and self-determination – principles I cherish as well – and applies these axioms to his third most polished skill – after music and writing – programming. After Jem Bendell’s, Derek’s site is most akin to the vision I have for my own, and I have Derek’s email address from his interview with Tim Ferriss, so I sent him a note asking how he maintains his site.

His response?

For making a new site?  Don’t let anyone sell you on some complex solution.  They’re saying you need a jumbo jet when really you need a bicycle.  Do your HTML by hand like this, and then you’ll know when your site has become so big that you need a little more automation to help manage changes or links to the hundreds of pages inside.  But until then, no no no.  Just do HTML by hand.

After that, I was really in a bind. How could I use something like WordPress with advice like that?

Enter the power of rationalization.

One of the great things about WordPress is that it is based upon a relational database. That means that different parts of the site content – namely the posts – can be related to other parts. So you can use queries to batch and display content based on various criteria, date or category for instance. This is the major advantage that WordPress offers over static HTML.

Not that it can’t be done by hand in HTML. Derek is one hundred percent correct, HTML is all that you need. In fact, it is the only way that your site can be viewed over the Internet in the first place.

I’m just lazy.

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