The World Wide Web is in its third decade, and a lot has changed since the first website went live. In the beginning of the internet, websites displayed simple text information on a simple background. Later, someone added a photo. Soon, web pages were displaying different text colors, background images, more photos and better layouts. But, once the page was made, it was always the same unless someone familiar with HTML came along to edit it. Those were the days of static websites.
These days, websites offer visitors a more interactive and personalized experience. Perhaps a website displays the weather, and each time someone visits the site, they see the current weather in their location. Twitter feeds, news tickers, stock prices, and other rapidly changing content is also commonly displayed on modern sites. Since it wouldn’t be practical for a person to update the page for each visitor, the site must be able to update itself as needed. This is the job of a dynamic website.
Pros and cons exist for each type of website, and knowing the basics of each type will help you identify which type you have, and if you need to make changes to update your site for current market requirements. Here is a brief description of each type of website.
A static site is one that stays the same until an administrator takes steps to change an element. Think of it as a text document posted online. Each visitor will see exactly the same thing each time they visit, until the webmaster takes the document down, makes some changes, and reposts it. Only then will visitors see something different, and this must be repeated for each update.
The good thing about static sites is that they’re simple. Anyone with basic HTML knowledge can design and publish a web page. They require very little storage space, they load quickly and there’s little that can go wrong. This makes them great for sites that contain primarily text and photos, and that do not change frequently.
The cons of static sites are their lack of versatility and features. Also, a person must manually edit the site each time something needs to be added, modified or removed, and that person must have basic HTML knowledge.
Dynamic sites use something called server side scripting to constantly update elements on the site. Programming languages such as PHP, ASP, Perl, Ruby and others are used to automate the page update process. The programs run on the host computer and retrieve and modify data as needed. Each time a visitor loads the page, they see the updated information. An example is a page that displays stock prices. The server script constantly queries and updates the stock prices so visitors see the latest information.
Pros of dynamic websites include more functionality, automated updates, interfaces that allow people to update content without coding skills, and a more interactive experience for visitors.
The cons of dynamic sites are that they are more complicated to design, require a higher level of coding skills for the onset, are slower to load, require more bandwidth, and require the ability to run scripts on the host machines.
As long as you have a good grasp on who your audience is and what they need from you in order for your business to be successful, you will be able to identify the website that best fits your company.