I think the answer to this question lies in the answer to the ultimate question – ” What do you want to do with your website?” Both the ways have certain shortcomings. If you think at the very basic level even WordPress (WP) requires HTML/CSS and JS coding at certain instances. However, to make a website like Quora just HTML/CSS and JS won’t do. You would need to have knowledge of backend programming languages such as PHP or Ruby. So think of WP as a compilation of PHP which makes publishing HTML content easier. Never the less I compared the two on the basis of following:
SEO: SEO stands for search engine Optimization. In Le man’s terms it may be explained as how often your website comes up as a result when a user searches for a query related to the content of your website on a search engine. Now, WordPress(WP) was built as a blogging platform and thus has a lot of SEO embedded throughout its code. Not implying that you cannot get great SEO through HTML but you will have to spend more time coding and getting the basics of it, might even have to hire a SEO expert. Not saying, that having a WP website will give you 1000 views in a day instantly, but this number is achievable faster through WP than HTML.
Worpress – 1, HTML – 0
UPDATING: It is also important to know how often will you be updating your website and in what ways. If your website requires frequent updates like publishing a blog, then hands down, WP is the way to go. It makes life much simpler as the user interface is very intuitive. Heck, even my tech challenged mother can publish a post through WP. For static pages, devs tend to go for HTML, which is an understood action as it spares them the extra work required in making the site compatible with the WordPress CODEX. So, for updation it depends on the type of site. Tie breaker: half point to both.
WordPress – 1.5, HTML- 0.5
LOADING TIME: Now, loading time can depend on a ton of things depending on the content of your website. But if similar websites are published with and without WP, then the one with sole HTML code will load faster undoubtedly. Half a point to HTML because this category can take a backseat when compared to others.
WordPress -1.5 HTML -1.0
Plug Ins: WP offers a ton of plugins. they have huge amounts of plug ins available which makes life easier for both the developer and the clients. These plug ins can be built into HTML but then, what would you prefer, buying a wheel from the shop or re-inventing it.
WordPress -2.5, HTML – 1.0
SECURITY: Difficult to hack a HTML website because the code written changes from website to website. if you use WP make sure to install all security plug ins.
WordPress – 2.5, HTML -2
So, in my book WP beats HTML by a close margin but i dare not declare it as a clear winner. Both of them have their own uses which the other cannot replace (uptill now).
Again, the answer really depends on what type of Website are you trying to create.