WordPress is one of the most popular website platforms on the internet, powering more than a third of the top 10 million sites on the net. And it uses dynamic website design.
Does that mean dynamic design is a better choice for your website? Not necessarily. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of both static and dynamic websites, and why you would consider one over the other.
Static vs. Dynamic Website Design
A static website’s pages are hard-coded with everything about the page – the design, the content, scripts, etc. Each page on the site is a separate file that contains all its own details. Whenever a visitor lands on that page, the web server sends the same code to each of them.
Dynamic websites generate the pages on the site on-the-fly. When a visitor lands on a page, software running on the web server “builds” the page and sends it to the visitor’s browser. Once the visitor browses to another page, the first page is gone until someone else views it.
The main difference between static vs. dynamic websites is behind the scenes. With a few exceptions that we’ll get into shortly, your website visitors won’t know the difference when they land on your site.
One isn’t better than the other. They each have advantages and disadvantages so it depends on the type of website you’re building, the amount of traffic it gets, and how large the site is likely to grow.
Static Website Pros and Cons
Static websites are more flexible than dynamic sites. Because each page on the site is a self-contained package, it’s easy to create unique pages within the website. They also have no limits since you can code the pages however you want.
If you want a particular section to have its own color scheme or page design, you can do it without affecting any other pages on the site.
Static sites can also have a lower up-front cost compared to dynamic sites. Dynamic websites are more complicated to set up so you’ll spend more to get your website off the ground.
There are disadvantages to static websites, however. For one, they’re more difficult to update, especially as they get larger. Because each page on the site is a separate file, if you want to change something across the entire site, you can end up having to edit a lot of individual pages.
They’re also less scalable than dynamic websites. This can be a challenge for online stores and other sites that have a lot of individual product pages. Because each page on a static site is created independently of the rest, a large catalog of products means a lot of pages.
Dynamic Website Pros and Cons
Dynamic websites are much easier to update if you’re non-technical. The design, scripts, and other behind-the-scenes pieces of the page are all handled on the server. All you need to do to create a new page is to enter the content itself. This often makes the long-term costs lower than a static site.
Dynamic sites also make it easier and faster to add a large number of pages. For example, if you’re operating an online store and have a large number of product pages, a dynamic website can generate them on-demand.
If you drop a product or you add new ones, you only need to update the catalog information. The site will generate new pages and remove the old ones automatically.
Large-scale changes like site-wide design updates are also easier with dynamic sites. Once the design template or theme of the site gets updated, all pages will be generated with the new version.
One of the biggest disadvantages of dynamic designs is the overhead required to generate the pages. Because the server has to build each page as a visitor requests it, more resources are necessary. This isn’t that serious on a small site but if you have a large website that gets a lot of traffic, the site’s performance will suffer if your server isn’t able to keep up.
If you’re optimizing your site for the search engines, to increase your rankings and get more traffic, you have some more things to consider.
The flexibility of static websites extends to the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) aspects as well. Each page can be optimized without affecting any others.
A dynamic website, on the other hand, has some common elements on every page. This can make it more challenging to optimize each page well. Dynamic websites sometimes have page URLs that aren’t very effective for SEO purposes as well.
These challenges can be overcome if you use a content management system like WordPress, which has plugins available that will solve most of these problems.
Responsive Website Design
Responsive design adjusts the layout and look of your website according to the size of the screen you’re viewing it on. Good responsive design can adjust automatically for anything from the size of a smartphone up to a large computer monitor.
Static websites can be more challenging to code this way and once again because every page is a separate file, if you need to make changes to accommodate new screen sizes, there is a lot of manual editing. With a dynamic site, you only need to update the main theme files and it will apply it to every page on the site.
The Bottom Line
There’s no “one-size-fits-all” recommendation for which method to use on your website. Dynamic website design is better for a large site that gets updated on a regular basis because it abstracts the design and other behind-the-scenes stuff from the content.
Static design is often better for smaller sites, such as a brochure website with a handful of pages, because of its flexibility and lower server overhead.
Think about the long-term goals of your website when you’re getting started. You want to make the right choice based on where your website might be in a year or two since making a wholesale change from one type of design to the other is a major project.
Wingman can help you make the right choice. We’ll get your website up and running using the most effective type of design for your needs. And once it’s launched, we can help get the word out and increase your traffic. Get in touch today for a free, no obligation assessment of your needs.