Dynamic vs. Static Websites: What's the Difference?
You may have come across the terms "static" and "dynamic" during your research into website design and development.
One of the first decisions you'll need to make if you're building your own website is whether to build a static website or a dynamic one, as that will determine how your web pages are stored and delivered.
We will discuss the pros and cons of each approach, as well as what it means for a website to be static or dynamic. To give you a better understanding of how dynamic websites work, we'll share some examples of popular ones.
There is a significant difference between static and dynamic websites: static websites display the same content to every visitor, while dynamic websites can present different content depending on the visitor.
Web pages are simply HTML files displayed in a browser, no matter how complex they appear. An HTML file (along with some other related files) is sent back to your browser every time you visit a website. A page is generated from this HTML file by your browser.
HTML files are generated by both static and dynamic websites, but what distinguishes one from another depends on how the server creates each one. Introducing static websites will help you understand the difference.
Static websites: what are they?
Since no files are altered by the web server before being sent to the user, the web page will appear exactly the same for everyone. Website content is static - it can only be changed manually by changing its content in the files.
A static website can be a resume website, a portfolio website, a brochure website, a one-time landing page, or another site that provides information or is read-only. The content on these websites is limited (three to four pages or fewer), and they don't require frequent updating or personalized content.
Advantages of static websites
Static websites are most beneficial because they are simple. You can build and maintain static sites from scratch the easiest way. Static sites are an excellent choice if you want to launch a basic website quickly and cheaply. It doesn't take too much time or money to code a decent one if you know HTML and CSS.
The user experience of static websites is also faster than that of dynamic websites. Static websites require little back-end processing because the pages are already built. Clients are only required to request files, which the server retrieves and delivers. As a result of their lack of variation in content, static websites are also easier to cache. In addition to affecting search engine rankings, site speed is important for a positive user experience.
Disadvantages of static websites
Many situations don't lend themselves to static websites, as you might suspect. Scalability is a major concern: Any time you want to make a site-wide change, like changing the header of your pages, you must change each individual HTML file. Additionally, adding a new page requires manually creating a new HTML file every time. Large websites cannot use this method.
The lack of personalization is another disadvantage of static websites. Creating a more engaging experience for visitors might not be possible if you can't tailor content to them. If visitors' locations were factored into the display of information about your business, for example, could you show them different information? Dynamic sites are necessary for this.
In addition, there are many types of sites that cannot be built statically. Ecommerce sites, for instance, let users add products to their carts and check out, which isn't possible with static sites.
Due to these reasons, most websites today are dynamically generated. Let's take a closer look at what that means.
Dynamic websites - what are they?
Dynamic websites present different information to different visitors than static websites, which display the same content to everyone. An individual's experience on a website can be tailored based on several factors, such as their location, local time, settings and preferences, and/or actions they take on the site (e.g., shopping habits).
Dynamic websites require more complexity on the back end in order to achieve greater flexibility on the front end. There is no separate HTML file for each page on these websites. Servers construct HTML files customized for clients by pulling information from databases and constructing them on-the-fly when a request is received. A user's browser receives the HTML file once the page is built.
The majority of websites you visit these days use some type of dynamic technology. Dynamic content is used in online stores, social media sites, membership sites, news sites, publishing sites, blogs, and web applications.
Consider an e-commerce site where the home page recommends products based on what it thinks you'll like. The result is that every visitor will see a different home page. Obviously, hard-coding a page for each person and storing it on the server would waste time. Server-side code determines what content you should see, fetches that content from various databases, and builds a page based on it.
Dynamic content also allows you to change the language of the page based on the user's location or settings, display a user's previous orders after they sign in, and gate certain content based on membership status.
Advantages of Dynamic Websites
You've already mentioned the primary advantage of dynamic websites: They allow you to customize your website's content for each visitor, resulting in a more engaging user experience and more conversions.
Additionally, server-side scripting unlocks a multitude of functionality possibilities beyond personalization. We can create web applications, SaaS software, and rich experiences using dynamic code that is impossible with static code.
A dynamic website can also be updated much more easily. In contrast to updating each HTML file individually, administrators can quickly and easily make sweeping changes to their site. It is necessary for websites that regularly update their content and appearance to remain competitive.
The server stores fewer pages on dynamic websites than on static websites, which makes them more scalable. As a result, the server constructs a page when it is needed. Imagine you had an e-commerce site and you wanted to add several new products. A database can store product information instead of building separate HTML pages for each product. The product page can be automatically constructed by server-side scripts.
Disadvantages of dynamic websites
The creation of dynamic websites requires more time, effort, and knowledge than static websites. Investing in a developer or development team will help you build and maintain a dynamic website if you don't have the technical expertise.
To handle the technical side of things, you can use a website builder or content management system (CMS), which allows you to focus on content and design. WordPress, for instance, builds its pages dynamically using PHP, a server-side language.
Performance may also be affected by using a dynamic website. A dynamic website does more processing on the back end in order to deliver pages to visitors, which can affect load times. Website building software has improved in this area, so you can optimize your site's speed. It is still important to consider speed when managing a dynamic site since delays of fractions of a second can lead to higher bounce rates.
The Difference Between Static and Dynamic Websites
A static website was primarily a collection of pages stored on servers, which could be delivered to clients upon request in the early days of the web.
After users began expecting more from websites, like more personalized displays, auto-generated content, and eventually full-blown software available via the cloud, this method became less viable.
For small websites without personalization that you want to view quickly, a static approach works well. Any further than that, and you'll probably need a dynamic website.
When Sirkle offers interactive websites for a fraction of the cost of static websites with high monthly fees, why would you spend thousands of dollars creating static websites? Instead of hiring expensive marketers, why not do it yourself at a fraction of the cost? Wouldn't it be better to pass those savings on to your customers instead? A marketing, design, or technical background is not required to use Sirkle. We are here to guide you through the process step-by-step, or if you prefer, Sirkle will manage your marketing for you with our VIP plan.
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