The internet is home to millions of websites. Most of them let the user interact with them in one way or the other. These websites are dynamic in nature. When you type a query in Google or you buy your favorite pair of denim, you are interacting with the site. Some other examples of interactivity are discussion boards, uploading files, intranet facilities etc. On the other hand, there may be websites which do not let the user interact. They only display static information. Such sites are static websites.
The above description only gives a very basic difference between static and dynamic website. But there is more to it. Let’s have a look.
How to distinguish a static website from a dynamic one?
A dynamic website, on the other hand, uses server-side scripts or languages such as PHP, ASP.NET, JSP, ColdFusion etc. for providing interactivity to the website besides using the client-side script. Server-side scripts are more complex than client-side scripts. Server-side scripts can also handle events, session, and cookies.
⦁ Static webpages have file extension .html or .htm while dynamic pages have. php, .asp, or. jsp etc.
⦁ Static websites contain only a few pages, but dynamic websites are larger and complex.
⦁ Static websites never connect to a database. A dynamic website, on the other hand, fetches its contents dynamically from a database.
⦁ Static applications run directly on the user’s browser while dynamic websites run on the server and the output is delivered to the user’s browser which is generally HTML.
The upside of dynamic websites
⦁ Dynamic websites fetch their contents from a database or/and a CMS (Content management system) and hence change as the information in the database changes. A CMS is a piece of software or an application designed to create and edit digital content. It is very widely used these days to design dynamic websites. Some popular CMS’s are WordPress, Drupal, Joomla etc. This is not so with static websites.
⦁ CMS’s along with the databases provide the CRUD functionality to the dynamic websites. CRUD stands for Create, Read, Update and Delete. The best example of CRUD would be the blog. The dynamic websites allow the user to create, read, update and delete their blog posts. This kind of functionality is not possible in a static website.
⦁ Any change on a static website is possible only through coding while on a dynamic website may be accomplished by means of dashboards with minimum coding expertise.
⦁ The content on a static website does not change as frequently as it does on a dynamic website. So, a dynamic website attracts more traffic than a static one.
⦁ A dynamic website enables the users to contact the support staff and receive assistance online which is not the case with a static site. Customer support cannot be achieved in a static site hence limiting its use.
⦁ A dynamic website can be designed to function according to the device, operating system or the browser being used which is not possible with a static website.
⦁ A single page on a dynamic website can be used to load different contents depending on the user’s requirement. Thus, dynamic websites offer personalization which cannot be achieved using a static site.
⦁ Dynamic website development and maintenance is easier. Also, add-ons can be included easily in a dynamic webpage.
⦁ To make changes to static websites pages, they need to be uploaded to the server several times, but this is not the case with dynamic websites. They can be updated by means of a server application without being uploaded to the server.
⦁ A static website may contain embedded youtube videos or even RSS feed apart from the text and images. But the difference is, static websites are only updatable by a programmer in contrast to dynamic which can be easily updated by the non-technical website owner.
⦁ Dynamic websites development uses predesigned templates which can give the same layout for all pages while in static website each page may look different or coding be repeated on each page to make them similar. This makes static website code difficult to update and maintain as this repetition makes it prone to errors.
⦁ Dynamic websites are more user-friendly.
Advantages that static websites have over dynamic websites
⦁ A static website is inexpensive to develop and host while developing and hosting a dynamic website is expensive.
⦁ Static websites load faster than dynamic websites as the latter require server request. The content on a static page does not require processing at the server as it does not use any database or other resources. This is not the case with dynamic websites which make use of templates from the CMS, data from the database and any installed plugins or modules making it slower.
⦁ Static websites are more secure than dynamic ones. The dynamic websites have a full duplex communication with the web server i.e. the user and server can simultaneously send data. The static websites, on the other hand, can send data through half-duplex mode. In half-duplex mode, data can be transmitted but not at the same time. A signal carrier can both transmit the data to and from the website but one after another. Due to full duplex communication, dynamic websites users may change server data.
⦁ There are fewer chances of a static website running out of resources than a dynamic one. If a dynamic website is receiving more requests for database connections simultaneously, there are chances that it may run out of resources such as RAM or CPU. In case of static sites, it takes a lot more traffic to run out of resources.
⦁ Dynamic websites use all the bells and whistles which may sometime break the site if any one of the plugins stops functioning as desired while this is not the case with static sites.
⦁ Google Analytics is very commonly used these days to track and report website traffic. Installing it on a static website is simpler as it can be included just by pasting the code in the header section of the page while it is not that simple in a dynamic website page such as PHP or ASP page.
A final word on static and dynamic websites
Today mostly all the sites are of dynamic nature as they provide interactivity and many other advantages over a static website. This can be also ascertained from the above comparison. The dynamic website benefits outnumber those of the static websites. The use of static websites is now only done as announcement pages, “coming soon” pages, some elementary landing pages etc.
Even though static sites have many advantages, but dynamic websites are more popular as they offer flexibility, interactivity, personalization and much more.