What is the difference between a static and dynamic website? To help you choose between the two, we need to pit one against the other.
Today, we will cover:
- What is a static website?
- Advantages of static website
- Disadvantages of static website
- What is a dynamic website?
- Advantages of dynamic website
- Disadvantages of dynamic website
At the end of this tutorial, you should be able to decide which one best fits your needs.
What is a Static Website?
A static website is one that displays the same content to all users, regardless of what actions they take. These websites are often coded in basic HTML. Most websites in the early 1990s were written with this code.
Think of a static website like you would a magazine. It has a standard layout, and they come on a fixed number of pages. Think of an Adobe PDF sent to you as a newsletter, albeit the contents sit on a website instead of a PDF file.
CSS is another computer language used to build a static website. Like HTML, you can use it to create simple layouts and static pages.
A static website does not change in appearance unless the programmer himself does it. This does not mean that you cannot upload or use multi-media. Yes, you can still upload photos, but only if you are the authorized administrator.
Basically, a static website looks like a printed page. It is great if you are building a website that only has three pages, and you do not need a lot of client or user interaction. For example, you can use it for your portfolio.
Advantages of a Static Website
While the technology is old and the customer experience is impacted, a static website still has advantages and benefits.
- Easy to make – you do not need computer programming skills to build a website; you just need to learn HTML or CSS
- Fast load time – since a static website delivers the same content per user, they load faster than a dynamic website. The files are not heavy, and the computer language, which is HTML or CSS, is easily read and rendered on browsers.
- Direct to server – a static website does not have to go through a database of information to show the site visitor what it contains; the static website draws information straight from the server
- Flexible – it is easy to change the content of a static website; as an administrator, you can change the layout of your website by changing a few codes on the HTML file
As you can see, a static website still has great advantages but only if you are operating a business that a static website can deliver.
Disadvantages of a Static Website
Static websites have been outgrown by dynamic ones, most especially so because they have disadvantages as far as user experience is concerned.
- Scalability – if you want to add a page, you have to build a new page from scratch
- Coding – you need to redo the code over and over again if you want to change something. For example, you may want to add a box to the left side of the screen. This cannot be done with a few clicks, you need to re-write the entire HTML code.
- Limited range – a static website can only allow users to click on links or fill out forms, like contact forms
Despite these disadvantages, there are reasons to maintain a static website. It is a great choice if you only want an informational site, with little to no customer interaction.
For example, you may have a plumbing business. All it takes to run a site is a static website because you just have to create three to five pages to show your address, landing page, About us page, and portfolio.
What is a Dynamic Website?
A dynamic website is one where a site user has more opportunities to interact. Almost all websites today are dynamic.
People can upload their photos, see different articles on the feeds, buy an item and download digital products, participate in a forum, and so much more.
A dynamic website works with two sources of information. The first one is the server, and the second is the client. A client script refers to the program that a browser is using, like Java Script.
A website like this is called dynamic because it changes in real-time. It is functional, and users can interact with the website. A great example is an online store where you can add products to your cart, filter the products you are searching for, search a knowledge base, and so much more.
Do you need one?
You need a dynamic website if you want to give the best user experience. As mentioned earlier, most websites today are dynamic. The only reason you should not use a dynamic website is if you only want an informational site like a marketing flyer but on the web.
Advantages of a Dynamic Website
Dynamic websites provide more functions, both to the administrator and the user. Let us go through the main advantages.
- Content management system – also called CMS, this is a software or tool that allows you to add new content to your website with a few clicks.
In a static website, you have to re-write the HTML code to build a new page. You do not have to do this on a dynamic website. If you have seen how WordPress or Shopify works from the back end, then you have seen a content management system.
In a CMS, all you have to do is to upload the media, click on “publish”, and the website will show that as a new page (or how you want it shown). The website will create a new page on its own, without you writing the code.
- Unique use experience – the photos that show on your Facebook feed is different from what your friend sees in his. This happens because a dynamic website has a server-side source of information. An algorithm may be used to allow the user to have a unique experience based on his choices
- More functionality – with a dynamic website, you can build a store, charge money, place ads on your website, and so much more. You can build quizzes, add pop-ups, create subscription forms, and a whole load of other things that can serve your users.
Disadvantages of a Dynamic Website
A dynamic website does not come without disadvantages. First off, the design works because there are templates.
While you can build different-looking webpages, coding them is much more difficult to do than in HTML. On a dynamic website, you have to know how to code before you can change how the website looks. Otherwise, you are stuck on the available templates within the sphere of your CMS.
The second disadvantage is the cost. Because you have to use a CMS, you have to pay for that tool.
If you ever find a free CMS, the tool allows you to build a dynamic site, but you have to pay for plug-ins if you want to make your site have more functionality, like a shopping cart or a payment processing system.
So, static vs dynamic website, what would you choose?
While static websites may seem outdated, they still serve a purpose. Use a static website if you only want an informational page where users would know who you are, where to find you, or how to call you.
Use a dynamic website if you want users to be able to interact with your website. Dynamic websites are great for online stores and blogs, and where content is what makes the website drive customer traffic and participation.