You may have come across two phrases used to describe sorts of websites throughout your investigation into website design and development: “static” and “dynamic.”
If you’re constructing your website, deciding whether to go with a static or dynamic design is one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make, since it will decide how your web pages are saved and sent to users’ browsers.
Let’s break down what it means for a website to be static or dynamic, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each method, to help you grasp the difference.
Finally, to give you a better idea of what dynamic websites can achieve, we’ll show you some instances of popular dynamic websites.
The distinction between static and dynamic websites is that static websites seem the same to every user that visits them and only change when the source files are modified by a developer, but dynamic websites can offer different information to various users.
A web page is nothing more than an HTML file shown in a web browser, no matter how complicated it appears to be.
When you visit a website, your browser requests the website’s web server, which answers by sending back an HTML file (along with some other related files).
This HTML file is processed by your browser and shown to you like a page.
In the end, both static and dynamic websites generate HTML files, but how the server generates this HTML file before providing it to you determines whether the website is “static” or “dynamic.”
Let’s take a look at how static websites function first to have a better understanding of the differences.
A static website consists of a set number of pre-built files that are kept on a web server.
The web server does not alter the files before sending them to the user during this exchange, thus the web page will seem the same to everyone who requests it.
The content is “static” — the only method to modify the appearance of the website is to update the content of the files manually.
This isn’t to say that static websites can’t be entertaining or interactive.
You can even make a static website appear great with enough talent.
A static site, on the other hand, will always appear the same to everyone.
Resume websites, portfolio websites, brochure websites, one-off landing pages, and other informational or read-only webpages are all instances of static websites.
These websites are simple (three to four pages or less), have little material, and don’t need personalized content or regular changes.
The majority of the advantages of static websites come from their simplicity.
Static sites are the simplest to create and manage from the ground up.
Static sites are a great way to get a basic website up and running fast and cheaply.
You can code a nice one without too much time or money if you know HTML and CSS.
On the user’s end, static websites are also quicker than dynamic ones.
This is because static website pages are pre-built and need less back-end processing.
The server just needs to retrieve and send the requested files to the client.
Because there is less volatility in information, static websites are also easier to cache.
Site speed, also known as website performance, is critical for a good user experience and has an impact on search engine rankings.
As you can expect, a static website isn’t the greatest solution in many situations.
The most obvious issue is scalability: you’ll have to change each HTML file every time you wish to make a site-wide content update, such as updating the header of your pages.
You’ll also have to manually build a new HTML file every time you wish to add a new page.
This is just not feasible for huge websites.
The lack of personalization is another downside of static websites.
You can lose out on an opportunity to provide a more engaging experience for visitors if you can’t personalize content to visitors.
Sure, a static site can display information about your company, but what if you could serve up varied content to visitors based on their location?
You’ll need a dynamic website for that.
Finally, certain types of websites are just not viable to construct statically.
Ecommerce websites, for example, often allow customers to add things to their carts and check out features that are impossible to accomplish with a static site unless you employ third-party technologies.
As a result, the majority of today’s websites are dynamically generated.
Let’s look at what that implies next.
A dynamic website delivers different information to various visitors than a static website, which displays the same material to all visitors in the same way.
Several factors, including a visitor’s location, local time, settings and preferences, and/or activities made on the website (e.g., buying habits), can influence the information that they view, resulting in a more customized and engaging experience.
Dynamic websites demand more complexity on the back end to obtain greater flexibility on the front end.
Each page on these websites is not saved as a separate HTML file.
Instead, web servers create pages “on the fly,” meaning that when a user requests a page, the server gathers data from one or more databases and creates an HTML file tailored to the client’s needs.
The HTML file is returned to the user’s browser once the page has been generated.
This procedure can become extremely sophisticated depending on the quantity of data being retrieved to generate the page.
The user, like with static sites, is unaware of this process and merely sees the web page loaded in the browser.
Online stores, social networking sites, membership sites, news sites, publishing sites, blogs, and web apps are all examples of online stores, social media sites, membership sites, and web applications. To some extent, they all rely on dynamic content.
Consider an e-commerce site whose home page makes product recommendations based on what they believe you’ll like to buy.
This implies that each visitor’s home page will be somewhat different.
Of course, hard-coding a page for each individual and storing it on the server isn’t a good idea.
Server-side code, on the other hand, determines what material you should view,
fetches it from multiple databases, and builds a page from it.
Changing the page language based on the user’s location or settings,
showing a user’s prior orders from your website once they’ve logged in,
and gating some material on your site based on a user’s membership level are all examples of dynamic content use cases.
The fundamental benefit of dynamic websites has already been mentioned:
they allow you to customize your website’s content for each visitor,
resulting in a more engaging user experience and more conversions and transactions.
Beyond personalizing, server-side scripting is extremely powerful and opens up a plethora of functional options.
We can create online apps, SaaS services, and rich experiences with dynamic code that aren’t conceivable with a static approach.
On dynamic websites, it’s also much easier to make site-wide modifications.
Rather than rewriting the source code for each HTML page, administrators
may make broad changes to their site fast and efficiently.
This is a must for websites that alter their information and appearance regularly to keep up with their industry.
Finally, because the server does not keep a predetermined amount of pages, dynamic websites are more scalable than static websites.
Instead, when a page is required, the server creates it.
Let’s return to our e-commerce site example. Let’s imagine you want to add a few additional goods to your store.
Instead of creating many HTML product pages, you may simply store product information in a database.
Server-side programs can use this information to automatically build the product page.
Because dynamic websites are more sophisticated than static websites,
they take a lot more time, effort, and expertise to build from the ground up.
You can hire a developer or a development team if you don’t have
the technical know-how to create and manage a dynamic website.
Alternatively, you may outsource the technical aspects of your site to a website builder or a content management system (CMS),
allowing you to focus on the content and design.
WordPress, for example, uses the server-side language PHP to dynamically construct its pages.
Another disadvantage of utilizing a dynamic website is the possibility of performance degradation.
In order to send pages to users, dynamic websites perform additional processing on the back end,
which might slow download times.
There are techniques to increase the speed of your website, and website development software has progressed in this area.
Even yet, while maintaining a dynamic site, speed is something to keep in mind,
since even fractions of a second might result in greater bounce rates.
All websites were static in the early days of the internet; they were retained as collections of pages saved on servers that could be supplied to clients when requested.
However, when consumers began to anticipate more from websites, such as more tailored displays,
auto-generated material, and eventually full-fledged software accessible through the cloud, this strategy became less viable.
To summarise, a static approach works well for a simple website
that doesn’t require customization and that you want to view quickly.
Anything more than that will very certainly need the use of a dynamic website.