What is the difference between static and dynamic websites?
I was talking with our designer the other day about an old problematic website which was loading very slowly, more like a pet project. We were discussing all the details over and over again, when she had a lightbulb, a cunning plan…at least she said so.
“What if we were to make the website static?”
That was when it hit me:
“Oh my god, I don’t even know what the exact difference between static and dynamic website is.”
It must have been a fantastic idea, but I was just staring into nothing saying
“Okay? I guess…”
This kind of situation is quite common when you jump into an unfamiliar business. The silver lining is the fact that every day brings something new to learn or investigate.
When I started to dig into the subject, I have realized how controversial the matter really is. Naturally, my first thought – based on common sense – was that static website doesn`t move. All professionals are starting to laugh about right now, I assume. Because the truth is a lot more complicated and – professionally speaking – has nothing to do with movements. Here is what I have found out.
A static web page (sometimes called a flat page/stationary page) is a web page that is delivered to the user exactly as stored, in contrast to dynamic web pages which are generated by a web application.
You say what? Does this sound any less Greek to you? Not to me, so I have highlighted the main differences to have a clearer picture.
1. Difference in display
Static websites are displayed exactly the same way every time you visit them. There is absolutely no change in layout, data, so you can imagine them as a printed leaflet. While dynamic websites` content, information changes dynamically – hence the name – whenever you click on them depending on accessing or interaction (uploading, downloading etc.).
2. Difference in coding language
This is the least important for me as a user, concerning the fact that I have never used these abbreviations, but it may be an easy way to categorize websites for you. Static websites are built by using HTML or CSS coding, whilst developers use, for instance PHP, ASP, ASP.net, JSP, Perl and Python etc. programming languages to create dynamic ones.
3. Difference in speed
Dynamic is slower, static is faster. The reason is quite simply and understandable even for me. The static web pages run directly on the browser, so they don’t need an extra server application. On the other hand, dynamic pages require a server application which actually generates the website you can see. To put it plainly, there is a mediator translating the codes to a visually consumable website. And this takes more time.
4. Difference in updating
Dynamic website can be updated even by you via a so-called CMS (Content Management System), so there is no need to hire a developer to upload your weekly blog. Static pages, however, are adjusted by professionals, since all modifications are done directly in the html coding and then reloaded to the server.
5. Difference in usage
Because updating static web pages requires professional developers and their manual work, they can be useful in cases where changes in content, layout are rare and where the emphases is on providing information and not on interacting with it. Like institution websites or even companies `About us` page, since static and dynamic pages can be used parallel, too. Experts suggest choosing a dynamic website whenever the content regularly changes and being developer-independent is a main factor, such as in case of blogs, e-commerce, and forums.
If you are excited to read a deeper, more IT savvy comparison, I would recommend the following article: Difference between static and dynamic websites.
Although general public seems to believe that static equals to cheap, old and easy and dynamic is trendy and expensive, bear in mind that by using open source engines (Joomla, WordPress) and free templates, you can put a dynamic website together in no time with low cost. Yet, the decision between the two kinds should be done by considering the purpose of the website.
Now, one thing is off my study list.