Dynamic Websites vs. Static Websites

The two broadest categories of websites are static sites and dynamic sites. Each is very different in nature, and it’s important to understand the distinctions when deciding what type of website you want for your business. Let’s take a look at static vs. dynamic websites, along with the pros, cons, and cost of each.

What is a Static Website?

In the early days of the Internet, all websites were static. While that’s since changed, static websites are still relevant. If you want a small website, purely to establish an online presence and to present customers with basic information, a static website will meet your needs perfectly.

Benefits of a Static Website

Static websites are straightforward, simple, and affordable. They are written solely using HTML and CSS. Every time you access a page on a static website, you’re looking at a specified HTML file that’s hosted on the website’s server.

They’re relatively easy to set up, very fast, hard to break, and simply do what they’re supposed to do. You know what you’re getting with a static website.

Drawbacks of a Static Website

Changes to a static website are made manually, and can be very time-consuming. For example, if you have one incorrect statistic referenced on 15 different pages, you’ll have to manually adjust the reference on all 15 pages.

If you need to change your menus, headers, footers, or any other element that is typically uniform across multiple pages, you’ll again have to make the change for each element on each separate page.

The user experience of static websites is usually lackluster when compared to that of dynamic sites. It’s much harder to serve personalized information through static websites, and you won’t see features like user accounts.

Uses for a Static Website

Static websites are perfect for ~10-20 page websites that are largely informational in nature. If you need a brochure website for a product or service, or a simple business website that lists hours, locations, “who we are,” “what we do,” etc., then a static website has you covered. They’re a great “set it and forget it” option for establishing a presence on the web.

What is a Dynamic Website?

On the other hand, dynamic websites function by creating and serving pages/content as needed. Dynamic sites wait for user requests, and then use server technologies and scripting to display content on the spot.

Benefits of a Dynamic Website

This level of flexibility is extremely handy in a number of ways. Updating a dynamic website is largely an automated process that can be done in one location, by using web page templates to simultaneously edit multiple pages.

For example, you might have a “footer” template that automatically builds the footer for each page on your site. If you ever want to make changes to the footer, all you have to do is edit the template file. Your changes will be automatically deployed to all parts of your site that utilize the “footer” template, instead of you having to go through and manually change every footer instance.

Dynamic websites are also much more easily personalized than static websites. Thanks to various scripting techniques, it’s quite simple to serve customized pages based on user location, type of device being used, and a whole host of other information.

Drawbacks of a Dynamic Website

Because dynamic websites are so much more complex than static websites, they’re also harder to initially set up and easier to break. It’s like comparing a watch to a sundial. Once built, a sundial will sit in the same exact spot day in and day out, doing exactly what you expect it to do.

A watch obviously comes with more functionality and flexibility than a sundial, but if even one of the many complex, fragile gears on the inside breaks or is knocked out of alignment, the entire thing will stop working. And, unless you’re a watch repairman, you won’t know how to fix it.

Dynamic websites are also slower and easier to overwhelm than their static counterparts. Putting together a “new” page based on user information and intent is always going to take longer than serving the same exact page repeatedly. As an extension of this, dynamic sites will slow down and even break much more quickly than static sites when faced with a heavy influx of traffic.

Last but not least, dynamic websites are more expensive than static websites as well. It’s important to keep the price difference in mind if you’re working with a limited budget.

Uses for a Dynamic Website

Dynamic websites are perfect for larger, 100+ page sites. They are a necessity for most ecommerce operations, along with any company that does most of its business online. Even if you’re a smaller, traditional business, dynamic websites are great if you have room in your budget. Utilizing a dynamic website means there’s always room for expansion a week, month, or year from now.

In Conclusion

Simply put, static websites are great if you’re in the market for something quick, small, and informational in nature.

Dynamic websites are necessary if you’re in the market for advanced functionality and a personalized user experience, or if your website will be large and complex in nature.

Just to reiterate, static websites definitely do have their place on the Internet in today’s world. However, if you have the budget for it, dynamic websites will usually be a more comprehensive solution to your website needs.

Try Our Free Website Cost Calculator Today!

Deciding on a static or dynamic website is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to establishing a web presence. Dealing with your own website can be a daunting task, but we’ve got you covered.

We put together a free website cost estimate calculator that’s meant to help you gain a better understanding of what goes into the website creation process, and to provide you with an overall cost estimate based on your personal needs. Go get your estimate now!