Web Development

Static and Dynamic Content: Delineating the Differences

As we progress towards a more personalized digital world, you will start to experience increased content geared towards you. And what you see on a webpage may be entirely something else than what others see because of their personalization activities.

This by nature — where content is served uniquely to each – often falls into a dynamic content category. If that sounds a little puzzling, let me properly define on the most basic level — how static content differs from dynamic.

The Most Fundamental Difference Between a Static and a Dynamic Content

By definition, static content remains the same for everyone else worldwide. As Cloudflare puts it, it’s like a newspaper. Once it’s printed and ready to be distributed, everyone who gets their hand on it will see the exact same content.

On the other hand, dynamic content changes and adapts for a user based on device, browser, location, and or combinations of other factors. As I mentioned above, it feels a bit more personalized. Some great examples to think about here are how social media feeds work for you. Your LinkedIn, FB, etc., will be different than your friends’.

High-Level of Technical Differences Between a Static Website and a Dynamic One

  1. Rendering: Static websites are pre-built, probably cached for the most part, before you see a webpage. Dynamic, on the other hand, are rendered in real-time when the request comes through. The reason for it is because it depends on some factors such as location, device, etc. In other words, Dynamic content is more dependent on the server-side of things. In a lot of the cases, the page changes based on JavaScript.
  2. The code of the webpage: On a basic level, static pages are already hard-coded. On the contrary, as mentioned, dynamic ones are built in real-time when the request arrives and often depend on external databases to structure the page.
  3. Interactivity: Generally speaking, static websites would be less interactive than dynamic ones since it’s limited on functional components on a website. Dynamic sites can be highly interactive, and users can frequently personalize it further by leveraging extra filters, searches, logins, and other interactive elements.

Further Breaking Down the Basic Differences Between the Static and Dynamic Websites

AttributeStatic WebsiteDynamic Website
CostComparatively lower to a dynamic site including ongoing maintenanceHigher than a static
CodingRelatively easier to codeCan get quite involved
User InteractivityCan be limited. If you are going to be heavy customer-centric; perhaps this is not the route to takeCan be highly customized
Page LoadUsually faster than its counterpart dynamicComparably slower
A tabular comparison of a static website vs. a dynamic website

Should I Choose a Static or a Dynamic Website?

Like many things in the world, the answer is it depends. However, below are two common situations when a static website makes more sense:

  1. If you’re only using your site for informational purposes. And it doesn’t necessarily change depending on where the user resides/geography. Think of it as just spreading the word in the beginning
  2. When you’re tight on budget to start with — including personnel.

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In Closure

Many will differ on what really qualifies as a static or a dynamic one if you ask around. At the end of the day, when it comes to making a decision, make it based on what you’re looking for on your website — while keeping the budget in mind.

The way businesses work is they start slow and low, and in the background, keep going through iterations of their website as and when they grow.

Seriously, your choice is not between a static or dynamic one. It is between what you want. Now, if that ends up being static or the other, so be it. What I am saying is, don’t let what others define a website as be a hindrance to your vision. Do what makes sense for you!