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Static vs Dynamic Websites

Something we get asked to explain quite often is the difference between a static website and a dynamic website. A quick search for a link to point people to brought up a series of detailed explanations written by technologists, for technologists. Great, except for the fact that a technologist presumably already knows the difference.

For the rest of us mortals, here is a quick run down of the difference in what I hope is an accessible format:

Static Websites

The closest approximation of a static website is an online brochure. It acts and feels like a printed brochure you can view through your computer screen. Remember those days where printing was done using plates? Every time you needed to change design or text, you needed to create a new plate from which to print off.

Instead of using plates, static websites use HTML, the basic coding protocol used by websites. Each change to a static website requires a person, who knows how to use HTML, to go in and manually change the code.

Dynamic Websites

Dynamic websites have far more functionality and flexibility. Their initial set up is more complicated and uses more complex coding types such as PHP or ASP. However once it’s been set up, and style sheets have been put in place, managing a dynamic website is much easier and, with the right Content Management System (CMS), updating content, or creating new pages, can be done with no programming skills.

This means changes can be made as often as you like, new pages, landing pages and campaign pages can be added when you need them. Relevant calls to action can be scripted and strategically placed, new deals uploaded when they are current, old, irrelevant content can be deleted. You can control your own website in-house using in-house equipment and people. There is no need to pay anyone to make content changes to your website.

When Would You Consider Using a Static Website?

Three years ago, we may have been discussing cost advantages and time to build, etc. to static websites, but right now, in this current climate, we can see no real advantages to having a static website, other than possibly as a holding page whilst a dynamic website is being built.

Why Use a Dynamic Website?

Dynamic websites have all the advantages over static websites. Apart from audience expectations around websites and content, the way we search, engage and participate with brands online has changed. Here are a few simple reasons to use a dynamic website:

  • Cost over time is less expensive. The ability to add content, change content and control your content will ensure you do not need to pay anyone to make these changes, or changes will require less time.
  • Compete control over content and calls to action
  • Ability to build multiple landing pages, campaign pages etc, effectively becoming multiple websites in one.
  • Improved SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Unique and optimised content that can travel to specific audiences and bring them back to the website.
  • Integrating E-Commerce either now or in the future
  • Integrating social elements
  • Capturing User Information
  • Capturing User Generated Content and user participation
  • Monitoring how audiences are navigating through your website, what content they are looking at, where they are coming from and who is sending people to your website, what keywords they are using to search for you, where they are leaving your website and a whole host of other

One of the most basic requirements for online content, be it on a website, or distributed through a social media strategy, is dynamic content. Choosing the right website platform, one that allows you to create dynamic content, is vital if you want to take control over your marketing, content and messaging. With a static website, that’s much more difficult to achieve.