After 20 years of website design I have reached a conclusion, at least one for the time being.
Having been self-taught in HTML from 1995 I have tried Joomla, ModX and a variety of other CMSs before settling on WordPress. It’s pretty good now, having started as a clunky web-blog like all its contemporaries.
However, having gone through dozens of themes and plugins over the last few years, WP does have its drawbacks. Anything related to the blog aspect it is unsurpassed but to web pages, it still holds no candle to HTML code. I cannot count the times I have tried to customise some aspect of a web page using WP and come away – hours later in some cases – completely frustrated. Frustrated because what I wanted to do would have been accomplished in a few minutes with a straight HTML site.
I have taught HTML to a number of students over the years and some have gone on to take up web design as a career. Their environments have dictated other software such as Dreamweaver. To a man, they have all reverted to driving the code with straight HTML even though it may have eventually imported into Dreamweaver.
I think that more effects are possible through standard jQuery plugins than through WP plugins. To implement an effect using one takes a few minutes and to customize it takes a few more. A WP plugin can also be implemented quickly – though not as quickly – but to customize one means CSS mining at best. At worst, the customization may not be possible, at the end of struggling for a couple of hours. It is no wonder that jQuery plugin authors design for jQuery first and then – maybe – for WP.
Further, HTML sites have one tenth the code of WP sites and load very much more quickly and their content therefore is far more visible to search engines.
So, I would say that for websites that do not need updating frequently, use HTML. If the client wants a blog then tack one on.