There are two kinds of websites: static and dynamic. As a business owner, you need to know the difference between the two — and which is best for your practice.
The most basic difference between static and dynamic websites lies behind the scenes. All the coding of a static webpage is in the file for that page. With dynamic website design, there is code on each page but most content and rules for how it displays is in other files.
Here, we go a little deeper into those differences to help you know which kind of web design can bring the most value to your practice.
Static Website Design
In the early days of the internet, static websites were the norm. Today, they are less common thanks to the evolution of coding, graphics, and technology. But they can still be valuable.
A Place to Start
Static sites can be a good starting point for small businesses. The initial investment is low and you can have a site up and running in days, if not hours, depending on the scope of content.
There are drag-and-drop website builders you can use yourself to create static sites. Even a static site with contact information and core details about your practice is better than nothing. Not having a website is not an option in today’s business world.
Don’t think that static sites can’t be visually appealing and engaging? Good design is about things like use of color, shapes and white space. A good web designer can create a nice static site.
The two significant risks with static websites: stale content and poor mobile experiences.
The risk of stale content has more to do with human behavior than technology. It can feel like more work to update a static site. That increases the risk of it not happening.
It’s true of any website that keeping content current is critical. Out-dated content turns off customers and makes you look unprofessional. It can also damage your SEO.
To update content on a static website, changes are made directly to the relevant page or pages. Depending on the scope of the changes, your skill, and available time, you can make changes yourself. But if you don’t have the time or skills to use web development software, you need to hire someone to do the work.
The risk of a poor mobile experience is important to consider. More than 50% of web views are done on phones or tablets. The nature of static design often makes websites difficult or unpleasant to view and navigate on mobile devices.
Dynamic Website Design
The way dynamic websites display and function on phones and tablets, is one reason why they are now the norm.
Dynamic website design, also called responsive design, doesn’t rely on the coding of each page. Instead, it uses databases, files, and/or external sources for content and rules. The code behind each page dictates how text and images are displayed.
Examples of databases used in dynamic website design include product and inventory management systems, calendars, and appointment booking. E-commerce software like Shopify or WooCommerce use databases to store products details.
Dynamic websites also rely on files outside of page files. Cascading style sheets (CSS) are the most fundamental. It establishes the rules for fonts, colors, etc. are displayed throughout the site.
As a point of comparison, in a static site, that information must be coded on each page.
External Sources (Widgets)
The external sources used in dynamic website design are commonly known as widgets. These are packages of code that draw data from one place and display it in another in real time. Depending on the purpose, a widget might also send data back to the external source.
A prime example of this is email newsletter signup forms. A widget connects the external email service provider to your site and provides the code for what users see. When they enter their email address, that data goes back to the email provider and is added to your list.
Have you ever seen local weather displayed on a web page? That’s another example of a widget. Information about the weather isn’t coded on the page. Instead, there’s code that causes data to be pulled from the source and displayed the way the source dictates.
A Better Experience
Dynamic website design makes it easier to create an engaging look and feel. And, it’s the only way to create a site that looks and behaves differently on a mobile device compared to a desktop.
You know the three horizontal lines that indicate a site’s navigation menu when viewed on a phone? That’s dynamic website design in action.
The expectation that people with visual or dexterity impairments can use any website is growing. The principles behind dynamic web design are compatible with assistive devices. That means that as long as your website is developed using certain coding standards, anyone can consume and interact with the content.
The disadvantages of dynamic website design lie in time and money. It takes more time and greater expertize to create a dynamic website instead of a static one.
This doesn’t automatically mean you need a professional to create your site. Even free WordPress themes (think: website template) come with basic dynamic functionality. Plus, there are plenty of free and low-cost plug-in widgets for more dynamic functionality.
But if you go the DIY route, you’ll only be able to customize the site within the constraints of the theme.
Which Website Design Style Is Better for Your Practice?
To decide which style of web design is right for your practice, consider your:
- Current web presence
In general, you want to improve your web presence and digital capabilities. If you already have a static or dynamic website, any “renovations” should use dynamic web design.
If you need your website revamped quickly, remember that dynamic sites don’t have to be customized. It can make good business sense to look for a design that makes future improvement easy and start small.
The same “start small” approach is also appropriate to budget. Your website is a primary marketing tool but there are many ways to get high ROI with any budget.
If you’re still not sure which kind of web design is right for your practice, contact us today for a free consultation!