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Your website is one of the first impressions customers get of your business. The website’s design, layout and content all come together to create a great user experience.

But how can you ensure your website has the features you want and displays the right content to visitors? By choosing between the two major website types: static and dynamic.

This guide compares static vs. dynamic websites and also gives you tips on which one to choose.

Static vs. dynamic website: Understanding key differences

The main difference between dynamic and static websites is how they display content. Static websites deliver the same content to all visitors. However, dynamic website content changes depending on the user’s location, device, browsing behavior or purchase history.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the differences between dynamic and static websites:

The differences between static vs. dynamic websites.

Usage

Originally, the only type of websites you could create were static. But with the development of cookies, new programming languages and other personalization options, dynamic webpages came into existence.

Today, most of the webpages on the internet are dynamic. Static files are used only by 1.8% of websites whose server-side programming language is known.

However, many dynamic websites also use static pages to display fixed content.

Programming

Another difference between static and dynamic websites is the coding language. Static websites are created using scripting languages, like JavaScript, HTML and CSS. These client-side languages simply return a file to a user’s browser without any modifications.

Due to the nature of these programming languages, the content on static websites can only change if the web developer or static site generator changes the code.

Dynamic websites also use client-side languages. However, they also use a content management system (CMS) or server-side frameworks, like Ruby, PHP and Python. 

As dynamic content is unique to each user, the data is processed in the backend and then displayed on your client’s browser. Plus, you can easily modify the website without any manual coding. 

Flexibility

While there are no limitations on the number of pages, static websites usually are smaller than dynamic websites. 

That’s because dynamic websites might need to display entirely different webpages to certain users. As a result, there are many versions of these pages.

Overall, dynamic websites are more flexible, as you can easily add more pages and modify the displayed content for each user.

However, if you want to modify the basic structure of the website, static webpages may be more flexible since their code is simpler.

Speed and performance

Static websites typically load faster and perform better because they have fewer pages and minimum complications. In comparison, dynamic websites often are slower to load and more prone to errors.

For example, in one case study, static websites took around 1,148 milliseconds to load. In contrast, the average dynamic website took over 2,300 milliseconds to load.

That’s because dynamic webpages have a large number of variable elements that need backend processing before the user can see them. Static webpages, on the other hand, only need to return the existing files without any modification.

However, you can use a content delivery network (CDN) to reduce the load time of dynamic pages. A CDN caches data at servers close to the user, so your pages load faster. Bluehost WonderSuite offers a free CDN and an advanced caching layer to ensure a fast load time for your website.

One of the best examples of a static webpage is a blog. All visitors can see the same articles and guides in a brand’s blog, regardless of their browsing history. Other examples include online resumes and portfolios.

Consider composer Alan Menken’s website, which displays all of his songs. No matter which location or device you visit it from, the website displays the same content.

Alan Menken’s portfolio website is a great example of a static website.

On the other hand, an international eCommerce site is a great dynamic example. The available products, billing currency and language change based on the visitor’s location.

Other examples of dynamic websites include online marketplaces, like Amazon, and content streaming services, like Netflix.

Netflix is a dynamic website that displays unique recommendations for each user.

How to know if a website is static or dynamic

One of the best ways to know if a website is static or dynamic is to check if it delivers different content on each type of device. Or, you can check a website’s URL structure and build or simply see if the content changes after you interact with different features.

Here’s a detailed overview of how to differentiate between static and dynamic websites:

Factors that help differentiate between static and dynamic websites.

Type of content

Static websites display the same content no matter what device or location you use to access them. You can easily verify this by opening the same website on two different devices or user accounts. Another option is to switch the location using a virtual private network (VPN).

If the website displays different content in each instance, then it’s dynamic. 

However, some dynamic websites may rely on a user’s purchase history and interactions to change the content. So, even if the website displays the same content when you switch devices, it may not be possible to confirm that it’s static.

URL structure

Both dynamic and static websites are programmed using client-side languages, like HTML. But dynamic websites also use server-side languages, like PHP. You can sometimes detect these scripting languages by checking the website’s URL extension.

For instance, if the URL has a “.html” extension, then it is programmed using HTML and is static. A “.htm” extension also points to a static website. 

But if a page has a “.php,” “.jsp” or another similar extension, then it’s dynamic. URLs that contain certain special characters, such as question marks and equal signs, are also dynamic.

A caveat here: 

Website creators sometimes adjust the URL of a dynamic page to make it appear static. This may be because they think static URLs are easier for search engines to crawl and index. However, Google doesn’t recommend this practice.

Interactive features

Dynamic websites rely on user interactions to modify content and deliver a personalized experience. However, this doesn’t happen with a static website. 

For example, an eCommerce website uses product clicks and the customer’s previous purchases to display product recommendations. This means each click or interaction you have with the page elements may change the content you see.

For instance, Lands’ End recommends the following items to a shopper who recently searched for winter coats on the website:

The Lands’ End website is dynamic, as it offers personalized recommendations.

In short, if a website has personalization elements, then it likely is dynamic.

Build

Static and dynamic websites are made using different website builders. Generators like Hugo and Gridsome help create static websites, while platforms like WordPress and Wix help make dynamic websites. 

You can check the build of each website using a tool like BuiltWith

Static vs. dynamic websites: Which should you choose?

As a dynamic website helps deliver a more personalized experience, it might appear to be the obvious choice. However, some websites don’t require dynamic content, and including it might also have certain drawbacks.

For instance, dynamic websites might have a slower page loading speed and require more resources. If you only want to display fixed content, you can save both time and money by opting for a static website.

If you’re still unsure, here are some factors to help you select between dynamic and static websites.

Factors that can help you choose between a static and dynamic website for your business.

Type of content

Choosing between static and dynamic websites largely depends on the type of content you want to display. 

For example, a portfolio doesn’t need to display different content for each user. Visitors don’t need any form of personalization on such a website. 

However, an eCommerce website needs to display customized recommendations, currencies and offers, depending on the visitor. In fact, 56% of consumers are ready to become repeat customers of brands that offer personalization. 

However, creating such a shopping experience is only possible with dynamic website elements.

You can decide if you need a static or dynamic website by answering these content questions:

  • Do you need to change the content regularly?
  • Does each user require unique content based on their location or device?
  • Does your website content require real-time updates based on user data, such as shopping behavior or personal preferences?

If your business benefits from personalized or frequently updated content, then you need a dynamic website.

Budget

Dynamic websites have more elements and are more complex. So, they also may need a higher budget to create. In comparison, static websites are simple, easy to create and often inexpensive. 

But this doesn’t mean you need to select a static website to stick to your budget. Many dynamic websites include static pages to load faster and also cut costs.

If you require dynamic elements on your website, you can choose to make a few pages dynamic while keeping the others static.

For example, on an eCommerce website, you can make the home and product pages dynamic while keeping the customer policy, contact, blog and brand story pages static.

Depending on your budget, you can prioritize certain pages and choose to increase or decrease the number of dynamic elements.

You can also keep costs down by going with a budget-friendly website builder that offers different pricing tiers based on the features you need.

Available resources

Along with your budget, you also need to consider your resources. 

A web designer can quickly create a static website. However, dynamic websites with many pages may need more resources, such as a content manager, web developer and project manager. 

You may also need to keep paying for their services to maintain a dynamic website so you can frequently update the content.

Even if these resources aren’t readily available or you have budget constraints, you can still create the website you want using tools like Bluehost WonderSuite. 

This easy-to-use website builder enables you to create both dynamic and static webpages without any hassle. Its myriad features will help you create eye-catching content, pick from high-quality design options and personalize pages.

You don’t need too many resources and will get a fantastic dynamic website at a fraction of the cost of hiring an entire team.

Security

Static websites don’t have any extensions or plugins and are built only using basic scripting languages. This may make them less prone to security threats. Still, they’re also less capable of handling sensitive data. 

Dynamic websites, on the other hand, can use third-party extensions to enhance their functionality. This may lead to additional vulnerabilities without the right security measures in place.

To help with this, most dynamic website creation platforms and web hosting providers offer security tools, such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates and malware scanning, to protect customer data.

In addition, you can use security plugins, such as firewalls and internet protocol (IP) verification tools, to ensure secure payments and users’ safety and privacy. 

Scalability

If you’re planning to scale your eCommerce business frequently, a dynamic website is a better choice. Static websites have a lengthy process to create a new page from scratch, especially if it is media-heavy.

However, dynamic websites are flexible and can be updated easily. You can use a CMS to modify, replicate or delete a page without manually altering the basic code. 

This helps you scale the website without involving a web developer or the need for advanced technical knowledge.

Final thoughts: Static vs. dynamic websites — differences and selection tips

Both static and dynamic websites have their own advantages. If you want to only display fixed content, static pages will be sufficient. 

However, if you want to provide a great customer experience through personalization, then you need dynamic content.

Bluehost WonderSuite will help you create a beautiful dynamic website that fits your budget.

Our user-friendly builder is recommended by WordPress.org and has multiple feature and theme options to build a custom website you’ll love. It also offers advanced caching and a free CDN to ensure your pages load faster.
Want to create a dynamic eCommerce website that wows your customers? Check out Bluehost WonderSuite today.

  • Minal Agarwal

    Minal is the Director of Brand Marketing at Bluehost. With over 15 years of business experience in the technology industry, she strives to create solutions and content that fulfill a customer's needs. She is a dog mom and a stickler for calendaring.

    Education
    Masters in Marketing Management
    Previous Experience
    Strategic Partnerships, Customer Success, Events and Community
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