A static website is one in which all the pages are created in such a way that a web browser views it “as-is”, meaning what you see is what you get. If the web developer writes a line which reads “Home Page”, the viewer will see “Home Page”. Simple. In the internet's youth just about all sites were static.
Now we can see that this is the simplest way to design a website. And for an experienced web designer, adding a few pages here and there and making minor changes are fairly simple. An “online brochure” is what this kind of site is best at.
But what if the site owner isn't a designer himself and simply hired one to handle his site? Now, website development isn't quite rocket science, but these two subjects have something in common.
In the space race, the U.S.S.R.'s Sputnik wasn't the same make and structure as say NASA's Apollo 11, Website A's structure and design does not equal Website B's structure and design. A NASA scientist would have had a hard time getting his wits around Sputnik, and a U.S.S.R. scientist wouldn't have been able to easily work with Apollo 11.
So what does that mean to you, the website owner? Well, what if you needed to get a new designer (a very common situation)? I have personally redesigned several websites simply because it was code I couldn't work with. Different design style, different software, different code language – all of these can cause problems in the designer changeover.
Now suppose all is well, you're happy with your designer, you pay by the hour for changes or additions, you have a nice-looking static site, but now you want to add some e-commerce functions like an on-site store, or an on-site blog where you can easily add articles as often as you'd like. Now you're in trouble.
Imagine the amount of work it would take to add a single product to your online store. First, you would have to create the product page or blog article, add the code and links manually into the page and then link 5-20 other pages manually to your new page. And after all that, you would then test all the links to make sure they work as expected.
Sound like a lot of needless work for one product or article? It is. This is where the efficacy of a static website ends and the need for a well-constructed dynamic website begins.
A dynamic website is one in which the content of the website and the design are separate, meaning that the content is shown to the user as he asks for it, within the design of the site. The content itself is inserted by way of a Content Management System (CMS).
Example: if you designed a dynamic site, you would have a space designated for your header, your navigation bar, your search bar and your main content space. When someone clicks on the button “News”, he then goes to a page which immediately gathers all the most recent content on the site and then puts it together and shows the user the page it just built. Instead of having to add a new headline to 5 or so pages and linking them manually as you would a static website, a dynamic website does all the work automatically. This not only saves the designer work, but in the case of a dynamic website which has a built-in Content Management System (CMS), this effectively eliminates the need for a designer!
A CMS is designed to enable a non-programmer to easily add new content to his/her dynamic website FASTER than a designer could add a page to a static one. This means that you could stick with a single website for years without needing to pay a designer a dime for updates!
Another big advantage that dynamic sites have over static ones is the ability to have advanced e-commerce solutions that are 100% integrated with your website. This is because all of the pages are generated from the content that already exists on the site, so every time you add an article, product, or news to your site, it will automatically appear in the places it is supposed to.
So you may be wondering, “Why doesn't everybody have dynamic sites if they are so much better and easy to use?” The answer to that question is simple: a standard site could have maybe a hundred or even a couple hundred lines of code in a given page. A dynamic website contains thousands of lines of code. Dynamic websites require a lot more expertise in the field of programming and website development to make the site easier to update and add to for the person running it. Dynamic sites have a lot more engine under the hood, but are built in a way so that it takes a shorter amount of time for a person to load the pages on the site.
The Bottom Line
If you're interested in a simple website with only a few pages that you will rarely need to update, do not need e-commerce solutions and do not need to add content regularly, you could probably get away with a static website. But if you're looking toward the future, need to add content and articles regularly, have a lot of pages or need e-commerce as an integral part of your website, dynamic is the way to go!
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