Static vs Dynamic Websites – What’s Right For You?

Static vs Dynamic Websites

Static Websites and Dynamic Websites

When it comes to building websites, you will probably hear about static websites and dynamic websites. If you’re not a web designer/developer, this concept may be hard to grasp because the website doesn’t look any different in a web browser, it’s all related to how the website is coded, managed and maintained.

To simplify the concepts, here are a couple of analogies to help understand static vs dynamic websites:

A static website is like a hardcover book. The content is written on the page. In order to update,  it a new version of the book needs printed. A static website may also be refered to as “hard coded”. T

A dynamic website could be compared to a Kindle book.  It is still a book, but better in the sense that it is more interactive. If there are updates to the content, you can easily update the newest version with a “click of a button”. You can adjust the font size,  highlight passages to easily reference later without dog earing pages.

In the end, they are both books with the same content, but Kindle books make reading so much more convenient with useful features.

You could also compare a static website to a printed brochure. It shows includes text and images, with content that  you don’t intend to change for a long time.  A dynamic website could be compared to a shared Google Doc.  You can edit this document and add comments- users that have access to the shared documents instantly see updates made, you don’t have to save a copy and send a new file.

Differences between Static and Dynamic Websites

Feature Static Website Dynamic Website
Content Updates Manually edit HTML, you may need a web developer to manage the site updates Easy content management through web browser based tools and editors that you can do yourself
User Experience Read content on pages Users can interact with the page like search, buy, comment
Cost to Set Up Lower, typically because they are small simple websites Typically higher because they are larger and more complex
Maintenance Costs Little to no code maintenance Ongoing code maintenance needed
Security Issues Seldom a target Often a target of hackers
Web Hosting Can probably get away with low budget hosting You are better off with better quality web hosting
SEO More effort to manage Much easier to manage
Best Used for  Simple online brochures with less than 5 pages Blogs, e-commerce stores, membership sites, directories, and websites that you want to generate new business from.
Related Post:   Why bother to maintain your website?

Advantages of Static Websites

  • Simple, and small scale, so cost is less to build
  • Pages typically load faster than database driven (dynamic) websites
  • Typically they are less vulnerable to hackers because of how they are built.

Disadvantages of Static Websites

  • Not easy to make updates to content on the site.
  • You probably need a web developer to make updates for you
  • You can’t add functionality to the site, like a login, blog or shopping cart

Advantages of Dynamic Websites

  • It’s easy to manage the content on the website once it is built.
  • You don’t need a web developer to make text changes or add blog posts
  • You can code any type of functionality into them
  • Websites grow and evolve. A dynamic website makes this much easier to do.

Disadvantages of Dynamic Websites

  • Costs – It’s more effort to build functionality than a simple text and image HTML page
  • Ongoing maintenance costs – Dynamic websites are software that need to be updated ongoing just like your PC or phone.
  • Security – they are more likely to get hacked. Its important to be diligent with website maintenance to keep your site secure.

What’s better, a static website or dynamic?

How you build your website depends on many factors.  About 99% of the time though, I recommend dynamic websites built with WordPress, or custom web applications built with PHP/MySQL.   The main reason is once it is built it is easier to manage,  maintain and continue to develop.  Even a small website of 10 pages becomes cumbersome to edit when changes are needed. If you want to add a link to the menu for example, all ten pages would need to be edited, where in a dynamic website, the menu is managed in one location, so updates instantly apply to all pages.

Related Post:   Is Your Web Designer Holding Your Website Hostage? It Happens.

Most small business websites are built with an intent to get a return on the investment, and need to be looked at as an investment. A website can be used for selling a product or service, generating leads, or a myriad of other features. A static website simply is not the right approach to do any of this. It can’t “do anything” functional and can be expensive to depend on a web developer to make updates for you when you can’t edit HTML yourself.

If you still have questions about static vs dynamic websites and what would be right for your project, reach out to me.

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