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The Difference Between Static and Dynamic Websites

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A website is a series or collection of documents presented to the user in their internet browser as HTML, or Hypertext Markup Language.  Websites come in all shapes, sizes and colors, but one way they can be divided is static and dynamic.  You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference just looking at a web page from your browser.  The difference lies in the underlying structure, or code of the website.


What is a Static Website?

            A static website is the old school method of creating websites where updates and changes must be done manually.  Static websites are written in the same exact HTML code that is displayed to users in their browsers.  The problem with static websites is that they require someone knowledgeable in writing HTML to make changes or additions to the website.  Furthermore, when one aspect of the site needs to be updated, such as the navigation menu, that menu will need to be edited on every single page of the website.  This is tedious, time consuming, and is prone to inaccuracies and errors.  Because of this, static websites are generally not updated very frequently, hence the term ‘static’.


What is a Dynamic Website?

            A dynamic website is a website that changes or updates frequently and, at times, automatically.  Dynamic websites employ a special code language like PHP, or Hypertext Pre-processor, that comprise separate elements of the site which are then combined by the server to generate a complete page every time a user accesses the website.  This makes updating certain aspects of the site, such as the navigational menu much easier.  The separate menu file will be updated once and will automatically carry over to all the pages of the site.  Dynamic websites are much more efficient than static websites for large sites that contain numerous pages, news articles and/or products.


Example of Static vs. Dynamic Code:

Static Code vs. Dynamic Code            In the example above, outlined in green is the section of code that has an effect on the respective date area in the final result.  The final result looks the same right now in 2014.  Come January 1, 2015, however, the static code will still say 2014 and would need to be manually updated to 2015.  The dynamic code, on the other hand, will automatically update to 2015.  This is just one small example of how dynamic code is much more efficient than static code.


What is a Content Management System (CMS)?

            A CMS, or Content Management System, is an aspect of a dynamic website that can be developed so that users that are not familiar with coding websites can login and make changes and update their website with ease.  This is especially valuable when companies would like to have multiple people be able to login to the website and make changes or write news (blog) articles.  Since content can be added more frequently, dynamic websites with a CMS will keep users – as well as search engines – coming back to check out new content.  Furthermore, dynamic websites with a CMS enable a company to maintain their own website without consulting a professional web developer.


Let the web development team at West Press help take your website where it needs to go.  Contact West Press or your Account Executive at 520-624-4939.