If you’re in the early stages of building a website, you might be wondering whether to use a static or dynamic framework. Websites are classified as either static or dynamic, depending on the way in which they serve content to visitors. While most internet users can’t tell the difference between them, static and dynamic websites differ in several ways.
What Is a Static Website?
A static website is a type of website that serves fixed content to visitors without the use of server-side scripting. Static websites are written in simple coding languages like HTML and CSS. When a visitor accesses a page on your website, he or she will see the content contained in the page’s HTML and CSS files.
Static websites still serve content from a server. Rather than using server-side scripting, though, they rely strictly on HTML and CSS. With a static website, the server will respond to visitors’ requests — as initiated by the visitor’s web browser — by pulling content from an HTML file.
If there’s CSS present, the content will be formatted according to the CSS declarations. The defining characteristic of static websites is their lack of server-side scripting, resulting in fixed content that only changes when the HTML or CSS is altered.
What Is a Dynamic Website?
A dynamic website, on the other hand, is a type of website that serves content using a server-side scripting language. Like static websites, they are written in HTML and CSS. However, dynamic websites also use more complex coding languages, such as PHP, Node.js or ColdFusion, to dynamically serve content.
These server-side scripting languages run on your website’s server. When a visitor accesses a page on your website, the server-side scripting language will pull the content from a database.
Dynamic websites are more complex than their static counterparts. They use a server-side scripting language to serve dynamic content from a database. WordPress, for instance, is a type of dynamic framework. All websites built with WordPress are considered dynamic websites because they use PHP to pull data from a database.
The content a visitor sees isn’t stored in HTML files. It’s stored in a database that’s accessed via PHP. Other content management systems (CMSs) like Joomla, Drupal and Shopify are also dynamic frameworks.
Technical jargon aside, dynamic websites generate content in real-time. Each time a visitor’s web browser requests a page, the content for that page will be generated, typically by pulling it from a database. In comparison, static websites serve fixed, pre-built content. The content is already available in the HTML and CSS files, so the server doesn’t have to build it.
Benefits of Creating a Static Website
Consisting of basic HTML and CSS files, static websites are easy to create. You’ll still need some basic knowledge of these coding languages. Once you’re familiar with HTML and CSS, though, you can create a static website using a text editor like Microsoft Notepad or Apple Notes.
When compared to dynamic websites, static websites are typically more secure. Dynamic websites store content, as well as other types of data, in a database. If a hacker gains access to the database, he or she can steal its data. Static websites don’t use databases, so they are inherently more secure than dynamic websites.
Not only are they more secure, but static websites are also faster than dynamic websites. There’s always at least some delay when a visitor’s web browser requests content and when the server delivers it. But since dynamic websites pull content from a database, visitors must wait longer for web pages to load.
Static websites cost less to build and maintain than dynamic websites. You can build a static website using free software, and you can host it using a low-cost shared hosting plan. If you’re working with an extremely tight budget, you can even use a free web hosting service for your static website.
Benefits of Creating a Dynamic Website
In recent years, many webmasters have switched from building static websites to building dynamic websites. With a dynamic website, you can typically create, edit and delete content using a web browser. Just log in to your website’s admin portal, after which you can manage your site’s content. Any updates you make to your website’s content in a web browser are reflected in your site’s database. If you create a static website, you’ll have to edit the HTML and CSS files to add, edit or delete content.
It’s easier to perform site-wide changes to dynamic websites than static websites. To make a site-wide change on a static website, you’ll have to edit each HTML page to reflect the desired change. If your website has hundreds of pages, a site-wide change may take hours to complete.
To make a site-wide change on a dynamic website, you can simply edit the server-side scripting code. Depending on which CMS your dynamic website uses, you might be able to perform a site-wide change simply by installing a new theme, plugin, module or extension. Regardless, site-wide changes are much easier to perform on dynamic websites than static websites.
Choosing Between a Static and Dynamic Website
So, should you use a static or dynamic framework with which to build your website? Because static websites are faster and more secure, you may assume a static framework is the right choice for your website. While a dynamic framework is fine for small websites, it’s insufficient for medium and large websites.
A dynamic framework allows you to manage your website’s content without the use of a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) program. Just log in to your website’s admin portal, after which you can create, edit and delete content.
If you’re worried that a dynamic framework will slow down your website or leave your website susceptible to hacking, there are ways to counter these problems. Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN), for example, can speed up your dynamic website, whereas using a strong password — for both your admin portal as well as the database — can protect your dynamic website from hacking.
You can build and customize a website using either a static or dynamic framework, but there’s a reason why dynamic websites have become so popular: they offer an unparalleled level of versatility. With a dynamic framework, you’ll be able to manage your website’s content using a web browser and perform site-wide changes in just a few clicks.
Lori Ballen is a real estate agent in Las Vegas. She’s a digital marketing specialist, speaker, and marketing coach and loves to share her “Ballen Method” to generate website traffic and leads online. Lori’s specialties are SEO content writing (ranking on the search engines), social media strategies, and affiliate marketing. Need a website? Contact Lori’s brothers Jeff and Paul Helvin at Ballen Brands.