Static vs Dynamic Websites

Static websites are easy to make, they are more secure than their dynamic counterparts, and are easier to develop. Dynamic sites, on the other hand it is much easier to make changes or update the content. How do you decide?

In the early stage of the development you need to make a decision about the technical requirements of the website - meaning, whether you are in need of a static or dynamic one. A static website only uses HTML, CSS, and JS for its functionality and presentation, whereas a dynamic website uses scripting languages executed on the server side such as PHP, Python, Ruby on Rails, etc. Depending on what you expect to do with your website, you should choose the type you need.

Static Websites

Most of the websites are dynamic these days, but they don’t have to be. Static websites are easy to make, they are more secure than their dynamic counterparts, and are easier to develop. They represent a set of HTML files where each file is actually one page of a website. The downside of it would be that if you want to make changes on your website and that content is identical in several website pages, you would have to make the change for each page separately, which makes it difficult to maintain the site, it’s a tedious work and prone to errors. The maintenance of the site is then in the hands of a professional and the client would have to consider a monthly maintenance fee for the website if they want to have it updated. Moreover, it cannot display dynamic content.

Pros

  • Less complex development.
  • Loading time is faster.
  • Higher security with this type of sites.

Cons

  • Web development expertise necessary to make the changes.
  • The content can’t be updated/changed so easily.
  • Not for sites such as e-commerce or some forums, as they cannot perform complex functionalities.

Dynamic Websites

With dynamic sites, on the other hand, you have all the information stored in a database and once the user reaches the site and asks for the information then the server finds the information and collects it while at the same time building a single page for the user, which actually means that each page is generated for each user. It is much easier to make changes or update the content with such sites as they use a CMS like WordPress, which is user-friendly and easy to use. On the other hand, these sites can be slow due to their interaction with the database, insecure as they can get hacked, can be rather expensive to make and are pretty complex since the process for their making requires a longer period of time.

Pros

  • The content generated by the user.
  • Easier to update the content using a CMS.
  • It has more functionalities and can be used for more complex scenarios (online shops, social media platforms, and so on).

Cons

  • More expensive and more complex to develop.
  • Greater security risks.
  • Loading time may be slower.

Which one should I choose?

If you still don’t know which type of a website is suitable for you and your business, let me break it down for you and you can finally see where you stand. Try going through these questions and hopefully (if I manage to explain it well) you’ll be able to get your answer.

Editing

In case you have a smaller website with a couple of pages and you don’t need to change much, you can go with a static website. However, if you want to build up on your site and would like to add additional pages, enable changing and editing or updating your site, you should opt for a dynamic one.

If you have a static site and you want to make a global change, you need to do it in the code, manually, on each and every page of the website. So if you have a couple of pages, no big deal, but if there are many pages to go through, there is a higher risk you’ll make a mistake or even that you’ll get bored, as it’s time-consuming and mind-numbing. With dynamic sites, this situation is dealt with much faster, as you make the changes in one file — we often refer to this type of file as a “template” — click “save” and the changes automatically spread to other pages as well.

User Accounts

You want to have a website with the “login” option for your users for whatever reason, the only choice in that case is to have a dynamic site so that the code and the database could communicate properly as static websites don’t have this option at all. So, any kind of “dynamic” or action on the website will determine your choice of the site, there’s no doubt about that.

Changing Content

Many clients want to be able to change the textual and visual content of the website because they have a lot of things going on since they may have a blog and post regularly or there is a news section on the website which needs constant updating or simply they want to be in control of the activity on the site. The easiest way to do this is through a CMS (content management system) and without ever touching the code and for this you need a dynamic site. If you yourself want to make changes like these on a static website, you definitely need to have a development background or again you can hire a developer to do it for you every time you need something like this to be done. A bit costly, isn’t it? But hey, if it’s not that often, then the safest thing to do is to leave things to the experts.

Final Thoughts

Not everything is black and white, as I described it. I did it because I wanted to point out the basic division, basic differences, basic characteristics of the websites. However, there is a whole range of static/dynamic hybrid sites in between these two categories, which are neither completely static nor completely dynamic with having elements of both categories. With technological advancement being measured in seconds now, the tendency is towards merging the systems and blurring the once strict lines between something that used to be so clearly defined. Maybe it’s the curse of modern times - the curse of having too many choices, as someone has called it. But I say, at least we have them and thank God for that.

Anyway, the question you need to answer in the first place is this: do you need a website to be your business card, which will just showcase your digital presence or do you need it to be a tool for growing your business? If the answer is yes to the first one, you need a static website, if the latter is the case, choose a dynamic site. But if you are in the grey zone, where nothing is so clear, talk to your designer and they will have a proper solution for you.

Cheerio!

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