Differentiating Static And Dynamic Websites

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Creating a website for a business or organization can present many challenges. What sort of content should be included? While browsing, how will mobile apps affect functionality? And crucially, you need to decide whether your business’ needs are best suited by a static or dynamic website.

This article will help you decide which type of website is best for your purposes. We will lay out the advantages and disadvantages of each kind of website to help you differentiate and decide between the two.

Table of contents

  1. What’s the difference
  2. Static Websites
  3. Dynamic Websites
  4. Choices
  5. Expertise

What’s the difference?

When the internet was still in its infancy, the only type of website you’d be able to find were static websites. If you wanted to change or update something on your site, a human web developer would need to change the code directly.

But as technology progressed, web developers began to create dynamic websites. These are websites that can dynamically access and display content when requested.

Not every website needs to be dynamic, but some static websites can use dynamic functions to create a kind of hybrid of the two. An example of this kind of hybrid site would be a website for a vacation resort that integrates local weather forecasts into its homepage.

For some, a well laid-out static website is sufficient for their business’ needs. It really depends on the purpose of your website and how much flexibility you need to provide the user.

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Code and delivery

A website with static code will not change unless a web developer edits it.

On the other hand, a dynamic website is built by accessing a database to deliver content in real-time.

Static web pages are pre-rendered for the user and look the same no matter from where or how they accessed. The web developer can know exactly what the user will see when they arrive at the website. Meanwhile, a dynamic page is generated by a server. It can also look different depending on the location from where it would be accessed to which browser is being used.

Static Websites

A static web page, also known as a flat page or stationary page, is usually coded in HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Static web pages, also known as flat or stationary web pages, are essentially a viewable document only editable with the right coding skills. Regardless of where the page is accessed from, or who is accessing it from the host server, the page appears the same as when it was originally created. In order to make your static website go live easily, you can deploy it with tools such as Hostman.

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Let’s take a look at some pros and cons of static websites.

Pros

  • Simple to set up: Static websites present far less complexity than their dynamic counterparts and so are easier to set up. There is a wide range of website builders that can help you do this.

  • Speedy process: The ease of setting up static web pages means that it’s a speedy process. If you need to get something up in a hurry, static websites might be the best choice for you.

  • Lower Costs: The simplicity of static websites means they tend not to take up a lot of space. The result is that they are cheaper to host.

  • Stability: As the content on a static website is unchanging, it’s far less likely to malfunction. This makes usability testing a breeze.

  • Performance: The simplicity and stability of static web pages allow them to load quickly for the user. This quick performance is a result of the efficient coding languages used to create them.

  • More Secure: Without the need to utilize third-party software, databases, or a CMS (Content Management System, more on that later), static websites allow for fewer potential vulnerabilities than a dynamic website.

Cons

  • Updates: Without the prerequisite coding skills, updating a static website is difficult. A web developer would likely be required, eating into your initial setup savings.

  • Limited: It’s entirely possible to build a larger static website, but that would be a long and labor-intensive process. This is because each time a new page is required, it needs to be built from scratch. A template can help, but that will only get you so far.

  • Tired content: Without giving visitors to your website a reason to return, you may find traffic numbers stagnate. Static websites are less well suited to the adding of lots of fresh content to keep users coming back for more.

  • User Interaction: Static websites don’t provide opportunities to engage with active, up-to-the-minute content.

  • Ongoing costs: As your website grows, if the static model is what you’re sticking with, you’ll require a larger team to manage it, therefore increasing costs.

  • On mobile: A static website that looks fantastic on a laptop may not appear so well on a mobile device. According to Statista, 56.89% of global internet traffic was through mobile devices as of February 2022.

Dynamic Websites

Written in more complex programming languages such as CGI, Ajax, or ASP, dynamic websites are presented to users with the help of databases.

Users can experience a dynamic website differently depending on a number of factors. A user looking at a website through Safari on an iPhone versus one viewing through Chrome on a laptop may see different content, better tailored to them individually.

What is a CMS?

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Content Management Systems are vital software for the functioning of dynamic websites. They allow multiple users to publish or edit content on the site. A CMS is often essential to ensuring quality user experience on a dynamic website, and can be used to schedule content posts for a later date and edit old content. It’s well worth considering if a CMS might be useful for your business’ website. If you do, ensure whichever one you choose has undergone rigorous software application testing.

Let’s now take a look at some of the pros and cons of dynamic websites.

Pros

  • Easy updates: It is much easier to update dynamic websites, which is a significant advantage. With the help of a CMS, multiple people within an organization can contribute without any specialist coding experience.

  • More volume: Thanks to the way dynamic websites are structured, it is much easier to provide much more content than possible with a static website. You can offer hundreds of searchable pages and drive more traffic to your website. Just make sure you have the best database management tools to help you.

  • Sleek design: Dynamic websites allow an organization to put on a more professional face when compared to static websites. This type of website also provides increased flexibility for design choices.

  • Tailored Content: By taking advantage of cookies, demographics, and keyword research, a dynamic website enables you to present content that will most appeal to different groups of users. The website is able to recognize if you’ve got a new visitor and even present special offers for new potential customers.

  • Mobile device optimization: As a dynamic website can recognize the type of device being used to access it. It can also adapt to present itself just as well on a mobile device as on a laptop or tablet.

  • Discoverability: More content and a great design makes your website easier to find. A dynamic website, in tandem with good keyword research, brings higher traffic volumes. If discoverability is a priority for your organization’s website, it’s well worth taking the time to learn what is keyword research?

Cons

  • Start up cost: You will have to outlay more in the early stages. Even so, ongoing maintenance and updates are fortunately easier and cheaper than static websites.

  • 404: Errors are more likely with a dynamic website. This is a result of the way it needs to access outside databases and shows why testing is vital. For advice on how to mitigate this, head on over to Global App Testing.

  • Security Concerns: By using outside applications and databases, your site is exposed to a greater risk to security.

  • Load times: Due to increased complexity and more content, it’s likely that a dynamic website will be slower to load. Be wary that this can cause visitors to leave.

Choices

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Now that you’ve seen the differences between static and dynamic websites, you need to decide which is best for you.

For a small organization whose requirements amount to an online brochure, a static website might make the most sense. These days, having a website is essential for a small business. As long as you don’t need to constantly update content, a static website might be the way to go.

For a larger organization, especially one that operates mostly online, a dynamic website can offer the flexibility and room for growth that you will require. For example, a business offering a commercial phone system would want to reach a variety of customers with tailored content presented in a sleek, professional way.

A hybrid approach may be best suited for some organizations. A website for a tour operator, for example, may have a lot of content that doesn’t change very often, and use static web pages to feature this content. They would be well served to also set up dynamic elements to the website to reflect changing accommodation and transport costs.

Expertise

Whichever approach suits your purposes best, ensure you have the right people to help. There are many services and web developers available to help you deliver a quality experience for your website visitors. Choosing the right approach, and executing it well, will give you an edge in attaining online success.

Author: Kate Priestman - Head Of Marketing, Global App Testing

Kate Priestman is the Head of Marketing at Global App Testing, a trusted and leading end-to-end functional testing solution for QA challenges. Kate has over 8 years of experience in the field of marketing, helping brands achieve exceptional growth. She has extensive knowledge on brand development, lead and demand generation, and marketing strategy — driving business impact at its best. Kate has laso written for sites such as Stackify and Smith. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

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