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Static vs Dynamic Websites: What’s the Difference?

The main difference between static vs dynamic websites is that dynamic sites change per user. Learn about their pros and cons and which you should use.

There was a time when websites were structured simply, with banners at the top, a bit of text, and website footers at the bottom. As the internet has grown, so has website design and development. While website design began with simple static HTML pages, web designers can implement dynamic elements that bring web pages to life and offer greater functionality.

You might be wondering what the difference between a static vs dynamic website is. With a static website, everyone who views your website sees the exact same content. A dynamic website offers more flexibility, so you can sort of tailor your website to each visitor.

Choosing between a static vs dynamic website is one of many decisions you face when you make a website. Some pages might function perfectly fine as static web pages, while others might need a dynamic design for maximum function. It’s all about figuring out what you want your website to do and basing a design on that.

If you need help choosing between a dynamic vs static website design, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to learn more about static websites, dynamic websites, and which type of website is right for your small business.

What is a static website?

When people first started designing and developing websites, static websites were all the rage. A static website is a website where all the elements on the page remain static—or the same. If you think about some of the small business websites you’ve seen, they probably use static web pages. For example, a restaurant may use one page to display a list of all its menu items and their prices. This list won’t change based on who’s visiting the website, which makes it a static element.

It can cost a lot of money to launch a website, from the design and development stage to deploying your website and making sure there are no bugs. With a static vs dynamic website, you can save money on design and development. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this comes at the price of certain website features.

What is a dynamic website?

A dynamic website is the opposite of a static website. Where a static website remains the same no matter what, a dynamic website can change itself based on the user, the time, and more. Dynamic websites can even change based on user inputs, such as the selections a person has made on a page. These websites are more complicated because they’re not made up of several individual HTML files like a static website is. Instead, dynamic websites build each web page on the fly using back-end code, which allows each web page to be custom-tailored to the user who’s viewing it.

Where static websites are mostly built using HTML and CSS, dynamic websites also use server-side languages, including PHP, Ruby, server-side JavaScript, and Python. This means that the cost of hiring a web developer to build a dynamic website can be significantly higher. While dynamic websites might not be as common in small business website design, they’re a staple for big brands that want to create the most innovative websites.

The pros and cons of static vs dynamic

As far as static vs dynamic websites go, there are plenty of reasons you might opt for a static website. Static websites are simpler, which means there’s a lower chance of mistakes during the development and deployment process. This simplicity also means that you can save time when you’re launching your website. Because a static website involves significantly less (and less complex) code than a dynamic website, static websites can be designed, built from scratch, and deployed in a short amount of time. Unsurprisingly, the ease of developing a static website also means they’re typically a more affordable option for small business owners. In many cases, static websites are even faster for the end user because they’re so simple.

While static websites have their benefits, there are downsides too. One of the biggest issues with a static website is the lack of scalability. Let’s say you want to make a change to your logo or some other part of your website. With a static website, you’ll have to go through each individual HTML file and change the code to make your changes across all pages. There’s also the fact that you can’t tailor a static website to your visitors, which can make the experience feel less personalized. Depending on the type of website you’re building, you might not have much of a choice between a static website vs dynamic. Some features simply aren’t possible with a static website.

The biggest benefit of a dynamic website is that you can personalize your website for each visitor, so everyone gets a uniquely tailored experience. A personalized website can help you connect with your visitors and keep them engaged, which can help drive sales. You also get the benefit of being able to add more features to your website thanks to server-side scripting, which includes web applications, SaaS tools, and more. When you want to make an update across your entire website, a dynamic website makes it easier since you don’t have to edit HTML code for each individual page.

Arguably the biggest downside of dynamic websites is the fact that they’re a lot more complex. If you want a dynamic website for your small business, you need to make sure you’re hiring a skilled web developer who can handle all of your requests. Even then, expect your website to take longer and cost more money than a basic static website. In some cases, the complexity of dynamic websites can cause a drop in performance, which is another reason you might choose to build a static vs dynamic website.

Despite all the pros and cons of both options, static and dynamic websites both play an important role for small and large business owners alike.

Choosing the right option for you

If you want to design a beautiful website, choosing between a static and dynamic design is the first step. It all depends on what you want out of your website, how much money you have to spend, and what kind of website you’re building.

Let’s say you’re building a website for the food truck you recently started. You want this website to provide basic information about your food truck, including what you serve, where you’re located, and how to contact you. A static website will work perfectly fine for displaying your menu and your contact information, and you can even create a page to tell people about your business, your brand mission, and more.

Or, maybe you’re building a news website for your local area or a subject you’re passionate about like entertainment. Since you’re going to be publishing articles frequently, you should opt for a dynamic website that can seamlessly update as you add more articles. Your dynamic website design can even customize the stories people see based on their location, other articles they’ve clicked on, and more. If you’re launching a news website, a dynamic design will take a lot of the stress out of the process of maintaining your website.

The truth is that both dynamic and static websites provide several benefits, but each type of website comes with downsides as well. As an alternative, you may want to opt for a hybrid design that combines both dynamic and static design into one website. With a hybrid website, you can use static web pages when you don’t need any additional features or customization, then you can mix in dynamic web pages when you do need those features. Using the food truck website as an example, you could build your menu and ordering system dynamically but use a static website design for your about and contact pages.

Start building your website

Choosing between a static vs dynamic website can be a tough decision, but it’s all about your budget and what you want out of your website. The main difference between static and dynamic websites is complexity, so dynamic or hybrid websites are often better if you have the budget and need complex features.

With Mailchimp, building your website and getting your business off the ground is a little bit easier. You can use our website builder to customize your website, plus we have marketing and analytics tools to help you grow and reach a larger audience.

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