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Should you go with a static or dynamic site?

Phil Phil Apr 23, 2020 · 7 mins read
Should you go with a static or dynamic site?
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Whether you need a static or dynamic website is determined by how you want to render your site for your visitors. This can have a huge influence on the speed of display of your web pages, both positive and negative. However, if you offer services (trade, service, …) through your site, it should not be taken lightly.

Keep in mind that a visitor, especially when it is a (potential) customer, is not always very patient. If they have to wait a few seconds (more than 5 seconds), they may be tolerant once … But if this happens across all of your pages it can quickly become a nuisance and therefore potentially cause the loss of the client. In the meantime, they will have picked a faster competitor. And yes, competition on the internet is tough, very tough…

So, to help you in your choice, namely to develop a static or dynamic site, here is an explanation of how it works.

What is a static or dynamic site?

A static site is a site made up of pages created in HTML. This is fixed content. So when a computer (through the use of an internet browser) connects to the server hosting the static site, the requested page is instantly returned, without compilation or processing by the server.

A dynamic site combines different sources to constitute its HTML pages. On the one hand, there is a database (MySQL, …), and on the other files in a dynamic programming language (PHP, Java, …) which at the request of a computer connecting to the server, compile the HTML page before delivering it.

A little history

When the internet was born, the first sites were static. The HTML language was simple and for the time, around the 1980s, it largely met the needs. Remember (or imagine for the youngest) that before the internet opened, there was Minitel … static HTML sites were revolutionary in comparison.

However with the enormous extension of the internet around the world, and of course with technological and IT developments over the years, the first dynamic sites appeared to meet new uses and needs.

Seeking more interactions with users, the use of databases brought a new form of sites thanks to dynamic programming languages; the best known was PHP, created for this use. These languages ​​allow the processing of forms and the transmission of data sent by users.

The dynamic sites also offered a simplification of the administration of a site. Facilitating their democratization with the general public, blogs, wikis for example multiplied on the web. Software dedicated to the management of dynamic sites made their appearance (and still do today) through CMS.

Despite everything, and contrary to what one might believe, static sites remain numerous. Although dynamic sites have taken over, by their many advantages, static sites may indeed remain a relevant choice in certain cases…

Static sites: advantages and disadvantages

A static site is very light and does not cost much to set up. Indeed, it does not require technologies such as MySQL or PHP to operate and therefore requires very little of the webserver. These few resources needed to run them make them easy to host. However, site updates are long and tedious, and the possibilities for evolution are very limited. The functionality is also limited and updating the content still requires some technical knowledge. Besides its price, the other big advantage of the static site is its possibility of referencing in the search engines since it only works with individualized HTML pages.

Dynamic sites: advantages and disadvantages

Dynamic sites offer many advanced features through the use of a database associated with a dynamic programming language. The modifications and updates are very simple, the treatments are carried out automatically. The publisher can publish its content or modify its pages via the administration part of its site without having significant technical knowledge. However, because the content of the pages is generated on the fly by the web server, there are many more needs and constraints in terms of hosting. Some hosts do not always offer the technologies necessary for the specific needs of a site that has been developed “from scratch”, whether for the database (MySQL) or for programming scripts (PHP, .NET, Ruby, Python, etc…).

Hosting a dynamic website is therefore obviously more expensive than that of a static site. If the referencing of these sites on search engines was not simple to set up a few years ago, the situation has changed with the development of CMS. There are indeed many plugins today that facilitate the referencing (or at least the transmission to inform search engines of the content) of these dynamic sites. The referencing of a dynamic site not using a CMS remains more complex and must be taken into account from its conception.

How to choose?

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Your project

Before deciding which solution to choose between the development of a static or dynamic site, it is first necessary to identify the real needs of the site (usage, clientele, sector, etc.). It is also necessary to take into account its possible developments in the future. These often tend to be forgotten (or neglected?). However, over the more or less long term, it can become a serious handicap (technical or financial) to use your site.

Once your needs have been identified, it remains to be seen what best fits your project. A static site differs in many essential respects from a dynamic site.

Here are various criteria, as an indication, of comparison on the website developed in static or dynamic:

  • Scalability: If the site is clearly structured and sustainable from the start, the dynamic solution is more suitable, especially if there is a high volume. On the other hand, if you are still looking for an editorial line, the static solution is perfect for a site with few pages because it offers significant scalability. But beware, if the static site becomes too large, it loses a lot of flexibility.
  • Maintenance: simpler on a dynamic site with a large flow of news, the updates of the pages of a site is done quickly without requiring advanced technical skills, thanks to generally integrated management tools. Unlike a static site, which requires a greater or lesser technical capacity to update the content of its site. However, if it is bulky it can become tedious.
  • Features: rather limited on a static site, the features are generally the strong point of dynamic sites that are based on databases and a dynamic and therefore interactive programming language.
  • Referencing: the static site works with individualized HTML pages, which naturally promotes its referencing on the internet. For its part, the dynamic site generates its pages on the fly, they may have more difficulty in referencing on search engines. It very much depends on whether the development of the dynamic site has been optimized to facilitate its reference.
  • Hosting: Simple and easy to host, static sites require few resources to operate while dynamic sites can be more restrictive. In fact, depending on the programming language used, the hosts do not offer all the necessary technologies (scripts, databases, and other specificities, etc.) and sometimes require significant resources.
  • Price: developing a static site is cheaper than developing a dynamic site. However, in the long term, the static site can cost much more to maintain and improve depending on the number of pages. The larger a site, the more it will pay off over time with a dynamic site thanks to its simplified management. However, a complete overhaul of a large dynamic site generates a higher cost.

Finally

In conclusion, the larger your internet project, the more essential it becomes to facilitate its management. On this point, the dynamic site is clearly the most suitable solution. On the other hand, if your project is simpler with few pages and less important activity (no or few news feeds, news,…), such as for example an internet presence site to make yourself known, the site static is easy to set up, less expensive and flexible according to your needs.

Monitor the display speed of your site So static or dynamic? When you have found the solution that best meets your needs for your web project, all you have to do is format it…

Once online, it can become interesting for you to control the speed of display of your site at any time and from anywhere if your clientele is global. Likewise to ensure the availability of your accommodation and therefore your business on the net.

Phil
Written by Phil Follow
Hey, I'm Phil. I write about all things web related.