I want to build my own personal website. Nothing very fancy, about 5-6 pages with a blog, about page,a page for my pictures and a few more pages of content mostly about what I am interested in ( programming, photography,family stuff etc).

I feel CMS System is overkill for what I am attempting to do, but I'm not too sure.

  • I am quite familiar with ASP.Net and C#, so I was thinking I can crack open visual web developer express and do the site with that from scratch. Is that an approach that is recommended? (Maybe a few years down the line I might regret not using a CMS system to start with.)

  • What sites can you point a beginner web site developer to learn about the various things required for building a web site (I don't mean technical things like HTML/CSS etc, but all the other planning stuff/design stuff/SEO stuff.)

  • I don't think I will need a Database to start with, but how far can I go without one?

  • If you're really interested in doing this in .NET you'll have a lot of resources available at Stack Overflow (which is also written in .NET).
    – Bryson
    Aug 31, 2010 at 17:37
  • This question is asking for opinions, and off-site resources. Neither of those are on-topic on Pro Webmasters anymore. Mar 17, 2015 at 17:46

5 Answers 5


If you want a blog and just a few pages then use Wordpress. It's probably the best blogging software available and it offers the ability to add and manage pages outside of the blog. Basically it does everything you need to do all in one neat free package.

  • Disadvantage , it uses MySQL - can it be configured to use SQLServer Express.
    – dezkev
    Aug 31, 2010 at 13:37
  • I don't think it does but I haven't checked. BTW, you should list any technical specs you require or prefer in your question so answerers can make better informed suggestions for you.
    – John Conde
    Aug 31, 2010 at 13:45
  • Yeah, requires MySQL. There's no shame running it, could even do so on IIS......but there's more to think about here. Most of us have servers and bandwidth available to us like it was free coffee....but it's SO much easier to just plop down $6.95/month and let someone else mess with that aspect of things. I'd personally go static html for my non-blog pages, maybe a little server-side code for the gallery (I'm a big fan of Gallery, which is free) and Wordpress for the blog. And if you want to really go simple, just do the free, hosted Wordpress. Aug 31, 2010 at 14:49
  • yes I should have been more explicit in my post about that. But I did mention familiarity with the microsoft stack.
    – dezkev
    Sep 1, 2010 at 4:20
  • @bpeterson76 : not a question of shame. Just not familiar with it. thanks for the suggestions.
    – dezkev
    Sep 1, 2010 at 4:21

In my opinion, a CMS is almost never overkill. Once in place, a CMS is the difference between just writing for your website and writing and doing code fixes. It's going to save you time over the long run as you need to make changes to your website. A database is also almost always recommended because you can export the data anywhere. You'll probably find it easier to get a decent open source CMS for PHP than ASP.net. I'd recommend using either Joomla or Wordpress for the size of their communities, but you can try a lot of different open source PHP CMS demos at OpenSourceCMS. And here is a list of other languages as well.

What should you look for? That's entirely up to you, but I'd recommend looking at the following criteria:

  • Security
  • Ease of use
  • Ease of development
  • Speed of development
  • Ease of extension/expansion
  • Size of community
  • Tone of community (look at the forums to see how helpful people are)
  • Number of add-ons
  • How often the project is updated
  • License/Price
  • Host compatibility

At first, your biggest priority will probably be how quickly you can create a template. Choose a few different CMS's that you think might meet your criteria and then look for a tutorial on how to create a template for it. If you have a hard time finding a tutorial for templating, it's probably a good sign that the CMS isn't a great choice.

  • for a new programmer trying to learn a CMS is overkill especially for a 5-6 page web site. It would take minimal effort to convert a 5-6 page site to a CMS down the road once he/she is experienced enough to make a wise decision on the CMS at hand.
    – Chris
    Sep 1, 2010 at 12:08

If it is a personal site, then how you approach the site is down to what you want to get out of it.

If you already know Asp.net you shouldn't have much difficulty getting something knocked up fairly simply. Then you can develop and expand the site in whatever way and as far as your imagination can go. Doing a site from scratch gives you complete flexibility to create something exactly how you want it. It will allow you to stretch your development skills and you have something to add to your CV.

You will need a database for any dynamic content of your site. In particular to manage your blog - unless you want to be typing out raw Html for each page (I don't recommend).

You could use xml for your dynamic content if you have to avoid a database, but that will bite you very quickly. Databases are quick and easy and nothing to fear.

I recommend this site as it is a gold mine of information about running a site!


Before you start to develop your own things from scratch you should look at whats available - there are some free open source options on the .net platform worth checking out.

BlogEngine.net is a fairly popular and asp.net 2.0 based (and open source) - see http://www.dotnetblogengine.net/page/Feature-table.aspx - if you are primarily going to add content to the blog and image section I guess this will be a great starting point. I haven't tried it my self, but I would expect it allow you to add what ever you want around it / change it.

Regarding database; my experience is that you can use things like flat XML files just fine for smaller sites if your amounts of data (not counting images etc. here) is small enough to keep in mem and you do not write very often. Looks like blogengine.net lets you select both xml and sql.

About SEO - try out WebMatrix from MS (currently in beta) - it has build in SEO features which can crawl/analyze your site and list improvements related to page structure (like having multiple h1's is bad etc). I did an overall intro to WebMatrix here http://docs.composite.net/C1/TeamBlog.aspx/2010/08/13/The-WebMatrix-experience - you can also download BlogEngine.net this way.

  • +1 for WebMatrix.Suprised the web development community is silent on this one.
    – dezkev
    Sep 1, 2010 at 4:23
  • @dezkev WebMatrix truly rocks - I think you just caught on to it in an early phase. It's still in beta but when it releases in a few months I expect people all over to declare their love to it.
    – mawtex
    Sep 1, 2010 at 18:28

5 or 6 pages? Create a static page for your design, chop the header and the footer off into separate files, then create those 5-6 pages by including them.

<head></head>       <--- Include this

<content></content> <--- Customize this for each page

<foot></foot>       <--- Include this  

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