After stagnating for quite some time, Web powering technologies are now experiencing rapid development. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is just the first wave, and it’s already giving way to more robust technologies like DHTML, LAMP, XML (read An Introduction to the Extensible Markup Language for more information on this technology), and AJAX. Attempting to stay current on these technologies can be both time consuming and expensive, which raises the question: should you stick with what you have, or take the plunge and incorporate these advanced techniques?
The answer depends on the kind of site you have and what your users expect to get from it. Will incorporating one or more of these technologies actually improve the usability of your site? If you’re merely attracted to the cosmetic overhaul they would provide, you may want to reconsider. Also worth considering are implementation time and costs. Are you willing (or can you afford to pay somebody) to implement the new technology? When all is said and done, engineering can be much more expensive than site design, and can also necessitate ongoing maintenance if your site changes regularly.
The functionality available from these languages is driving a rapid evolution in the way Web sites look and behave. Whether or not you need to keep up with them depends on whether or not your site, and more importantly those who use it, would benefit. Implementation and maintenance can be costly, but if you need more interactivity, or if there are things you want to accomplish that are beyond the scope of HTML, you might want to look into a site overhaul or at least the addition of some feature sets. Any one of these development platforms will allow you to provide a more powerful site than HTML can offer. But don’t get distracted by bells and whistles, and always keep usability foremost in your decisions.