Before going into details in regards with each website type, let’s determine what a website itself is. A website is a number of web pages (or one page) that contain different multimedia content such as text, images, and videos and can be accessed by the URL which you can see in the address bar of the browser, for example, webspaceteam.com.
When we insert a URL in a browser search bar, the browser requests the page from the server and the server responds with this required web page and its content to the browser. And soon we’ll see how the server returns the required information based on the examples of static and dynamic websites.
So let’s start from the static website. What is it and how it works?
A static site usually comes with a fixed number of pages and all the pages are already rendered. When a browser asks for a page, it goes directly from the file system of the server. The server does not run any code to send emails, process payments, etc. The most popular way of building static web pages is to use a generator, for example, Jekyll - a simple, extendable, static site generator.
What is a dynamic website?
Dynamic websites, as opposed to static that are rendered “on the fly”, come with the help of the backend code. It means that we can have a one-page template in the file system and fulfill it with different information from the database. It is achieved through server-side scripting languages, typically PHP. This script is also responsible for a variety of tasks such as email, payments, database management, and whatever background processes.
Many dynamic websites are built on the basis of content management systems (CMS), which makes them easy to manage and update information with the help of a user-friendly interface. One of the simplest and most popular CMS is Wordpress - an open-source CMS written in PHP with the help of MySQL or MariaDB databases.
Ok, so what is the difference?
A static website is pre-rendered: all the content does not need to be processed on the server level, it exists as is, and the site doesn’t use any external database. On the contrary, web pages in dynamic websites are not prebuilt, the page content is processed (in WordPress’ case using PHP and MySQL) during runtime according to the user’s demand.
Besides, the main differences between these two options are the following:
• Because static sites are pre-built and don’t need to process code or query the database, they are considerably faster and more stable than dynamic ones.
• Static website generators like Jekyll are pretty popular, but you need to be a somewhat advanced developer to get everything set up because there is no app with a one-click install like there is in WordPress.
• For the same reason, changing the content of a static website is not a simple task, it doesn’t have an admin panel to simply edit and update information, adjust role permissions, etc.
• Since static websites have nothing to exploit on a server side, they are more secure and less vulnerable to attacks.
So which one should you choose?
If you are going to build a website, you need to make a choice based on the purpose of your site and the resources you have.
Most people are choosing dynamic websites because they are more suitable for a long-term maintenance. Dynamic websites provide efficient data management, and you can enhance them with additional functionality in the future. So, if you want the website to be complex and to imply a great functionality, then a dynamic website should be your go-to option.
The disadvantage of this option is that dynamic websites take longer to be built and the development costs are higher. But speaking about using CMS platforms such as WordPress, they can help you to launch your own dynamic website without much of a hassle.
As for static websites, this option is for those who want to build a solely informational website, such as a company's business site. The pages do not need to be changed as the user does not make any choices. The content is read-only and non-interactive. Nevertheless, simple static websites can still look great and effectively meet their goal of informing users. Btw, current website is also based on Jekyll.
To sum it up, the decision you are going to make regarding web development should be based on what you expect from your website. Dynamic websites are more complicated however they offer more possibilities whereas static websites are more limited, and yet are pretty simple to launch. So, make your choice wisely, considering what you expect from the site.