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Static Sites and Dynamic Sites: What Are The Differences?

Today on the Internet there are approximately more than 1 billion and 234 million sites, according to the Internet Live Stats, the organization responsible for analyzing data on the internet in real time. And with each second that passes, an average of 10 more sites appear.

I bet you should not have accessed 1% of it, right?

While the amount is staggering (and that does not stop growing, of course), an interesting question here is that, whether these blogs, corporate websites, eCommerces or portals, it is basically possible to classify them into two large groups according to their way to update content: static sites or dynamic websites.

If you’ve ever needed to create a site for yourself or a client, these terms may already be familiar to you. Or maybe you’ve already asked yourself:

  • Should I have a static website or is it a dynamic one?
  • What are the differences between them?
  • What is the advantage of each one and which one is easier to use?
  • What are the new market trends and innovations about this?

Well, I will consider here to answer these questions (and hopefully a little more). Let us then begin with the origin of everything.

The origin of everything (online)

Do you know how the internet started?

Contrary to popular belief, the internet principle was created in 1969 in an American laboratory called Arpanet. There was sent the first e-mail of the story, between two professors of Universities.

Despite having an interesting proposal, this “network” was neither open nor accessible to the majority of the population. This website was linked directly to the US Department of Defense and was a tool used in the Cold War period to provide communication between academics and the military. That is, if we depended on that, today we would still be very rudimentary in web communication.

But long after that, the rules of the game have changed. Thanks to the European Particle Physics Laboratory (Cern) – yes, the same one that created the famous particle accelerator – with the help of a scientist named Tim Berners-Lee, is that the information made available on the internet has become available to anyone user. From that moment, finally, the web became democratic and accessible to all.

From that moment, finally, the web became democratic and accessible to all.

In this initial period, the sites were not very “user-friendly” with the user: they were those black-white text pages with some hyperlinks marked in indigo blue. By current web design standards, websites would be viewed as “bland” or “non-interacting” with the user.

In fact, it could be said that they were just text documents read by the browser that, in order to promote any content update, it was necessary to tinker with the site code. They were, therefore, purely static websites with HTML markup language.

Evolution of the internet

But then how to make site updates and changes more dynamic and easier?

Well, the solution to those problems did not take long.

The first technological response to this problem was relatively simple: to generate the HTML code itself on the server. That is, according to a specific action of the user, for example, to do a search on the site, the “server” would send the new page of the search result dynamically. CGI (Common Gateway Interface) technology was born.

At the time, it was an important technology for generating dynamic pages, as it allowed a browser to pass parameters to a program hosted on a web server. Reverse:  Although dynamic, there was little interactivity with the user. The site responded only to very specific actions and took a long time to process.

But it did not take much more than that to start getting people “hooked” on the web. With the increase of internet speed, users increasingly felt the need to have greater interaction and autonomy, generating a demand for solutions that could meet these needs.

And with this, another question came up even more important: how to really make the site more interactive on the user side?

Then came the web 2.0. Something closer to what we live today.

The term itself refers to the time when the popularity boom of blogs occurred. This was due to the demand for community creation and greater participation of users.

It was the web as a platform, interaction, and not just more as access to basic information. The social networks consecrated as a symbol of this new internet, where the public has high participation and is the producer of content.

Static vs. Dynamic

By analyzing this history now, would you be able to tell the difference between a static and a dynamic site? To a not very attentive observer, both seem the same thing.

The terms static and dynamic, as we said earlier, are directly related to the mode of availability of site content.

We’ve done a comparison below to help you with this issue:

Main features of static sites:

  • Content introduced/changed/deleted manually in the site code, i.e., to modify whether layout or content there is a need for a technician in the area.
  • No content management system.
  • Interpreted only on the user’s machine.

Key Features of Dynamic Websites:

  • Content introduced/changed/deleted automatically through scripts on the server, through languages such as PHP, Python, Ruby, Java, among others.
  • With content management system.
  • Site pre-processed on the server and later interpreted on user’s machine.

The advantages and costs of being static

Static sites have the advantages of loading speed and low development cost.

However, if there is a need to update the content, its maintenance becomes expensive. Generally, by themselves, they are most commonly used by those who wish to have a version of their portfolios, service relationships and contact addresses, for example.

Technically, a static website is written basically in HTML, but currently, it will always be followed by Javascript (to give interactivity to the page and perform functionalities at the client layer) and CSS (basically the style given to the page).

Advantages

  • High loading speed.
  • Low development cost.
  • Servers are cheaper or even free.
  • Easiness to adapt more modern layouts that follow new trends.
  • They hardly stay out of thin air.
  • Maintenance cost is low if you do not need constant updating.

Costs

  • The cost of maintenance is high if you need constant updating by a technician.
  • If it is not updated periodically, you can commit to SEO (an optimization to be found by search engines).
  • You do not have a Content Manager (CMS).
  • Upgrade dependency with a professional web design technician.
  • There is no database, i.e., there is no possibility to save any form of data through user interaction.

The advantages and costs of being dynamic

In a dynamic site, all or part of the page content is loaded automatically through processing on the hosting server. This process is known as content built on the fly, that is, at the moment the page is requested by the browser.

Therefore, the site depends on a CMS (content management system) to make all this interactivity and content update available to the client. Usually, the place where the site is hosted is the same as the CMS, which can lead to a more expensive hosting for the user than one that is only static.

Advantages

  • The possibility of content updating by the client, without dependence of professional technician.
  • High possibility of customization of layout and addition of plugins to the site.
  • More interactive for capturing and retaining users on the site.
  • Content management.
  • Ability to add responsible users for content update.

Costs

  • The cost of development is invariably higher because its production is more time-consuming.
  • The dependency of a CMS, such as WordPress, Joomla or other systems, to update content.
  • The Higher cost of hosting compared to the static site.
  • Need to backup content, to prevent loss of data over time.
  • It may load slower if it is not well developed or if it has too many features.

Transiting between the two worlds

Currently, there is a new trend in the world of web technology that proposes to innovate with these models:  static sites that are updated dynamically. This is the one I particularly believe and I bet it has a good chance of growing in the next few years.

In this case, the main idea is to unite the best of both worlds: the speed, security, scalability and low cost of static sites with the dynamics and usability of dynamic content managers for the client.

Some initiatives like: content managers as a service, connections via API, and so on. One move out of the country that has gained a voice is JAMStack: which basically preaches to use integrations to make the static site as dynamic as a conventional with back-end technologies. The acronym stands for: Javascript (programming language for the browser), APIs (communication and integration between web systems) and Markup (markup language, like HTML).

Conclusion

In this post, I presented the main differences between static and dynamic sites, a bit of the history of the internet and new trends in the web market. In addition, I evaluated some benefits and disadvantages along with you.

If you liked the post, share with friends! If you have any questions, leave a comment on the page!

Pravin Ganore

A Journalist Specializing in Blogging, Social Networking and Community Management. As a constant learner, Pravin is always aiming towards new ideas and greater knowledge. When he is not doing research, reading, or writing for blogs, you can find him hanging around social media sites.

2 thoughts on “Static Sites and Dynamic Sites: What Are The Differences?

  • August 24, 2017 at 7:02 am
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    The difference between static and dynamic website mentioned in the article is really beneficial from the novices as well as expertise perspective. Thanks for sharing

    Reply
  • August 27, 2017 at 1:57 am
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    Really good article covering the differences and benefits of static vs dynamic website. I myself have gone through the transition and of course as you mentioned I too tried to hit the middle ground between these two. I managed to overcome most of challenges.

    Reply

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