Static websites used to rule the internet. Nowadays, less than 2% of websites are static. This decline in popularity largely stems from easy-to-use dynamic website creators such as WordPress. However, static websites still offer a few key advantages that make them ideal for specific use cases.
Static websites vs Dynamic websites
What is a Static Website?
What is a Dynamic Website?
Dynamic websites, on the other hand, will serve different content based on the person viewing it. For example, a dynamic website could show pages in a different language in response to the location of the user; or it could adapt the format of content to match the size of the screen on a device.
Dynamic sites can also produce different content based on how you’ve interacted with them, such as showing you personalised shopping recommendations.
When a user submits a request, the server must first process the request, compile content based on that information, and then send that content to the browser. This allows for a highly personalised user experience but also requires more resources than a static website.
What are Static Websites Used for?
Despite the limitations of a static website, they offer an ideal solution for specific use cases. Typically, static websites are used when you want a site that loads incredibly fast. The high speed offered by static websites creates a streamlined user experience and can also provide SEO benefits.
Static websites are generally used for pages where the information doesn’t need to be updated very often. They are also best suited for smaller websites as maintaining multiple static pages is difficult.
Advantages of a Static Website
With the unique characteristics of a static website, they offer a few key advantages over dynamic websites.
Fast Development Times
With faster development times comes lower costs. Developers typically charge based on how long a project takes to create. So, static websites offer a cost-effective way to create a website.
On top of lower development costs, static websites also require small amounts of storage. They also rarely depend on costly systems such as databases or applications that increase the overall cost of maintaining a website.
Easily Indexed by Google
There are also some SEO benefits to static websites. Since static websites run on relatively simple code, Google can index static websites faster.
Since dynamic web pages serve different pages to different users, Google’s indexing bots struggle to rank dynamic sites consistently. By using a website that Google can easily index, website owners can rank higher in SERPs and generate more organic traffic.
Between low file sizes and no dependencies on server-side applications, static web pages can be delivered to users much faster than dynamic web pages.
With a dynamic website, the applications required to serve dynamic pages must process user data before serving a web page to a user. This additional processing slows the performance of the web page. Static web pages can be served to users as soon as they request the page, making them a faster alternative.
Disadvantages of a Static Website
However, static websites have a few restrictions that can make them difficult to use in certain use cases.
Static websites simply cannot do some of the things that dynamic websites can. First, static websites cannot be personalised to the user. With dynamic websites, different content can be served to other users even though the same web page is requested. This lets businesses serve personalised content such as location-specific pages for local service businesses.
Second, static websites cannot perform specific functionalities, such as allowing users to login or add items to a cart.
While these functions can be integrated into a static website with third-party tools, a static website on its own cannot perform these functions.
To function correctly, static websites need a specific file structure. Each HTML file must be stored using a consistent architecture, otherwise the site breaks. So, updating a static website often entails altering every HTML file. Then, the developer needs to perform a quality check to ensure all other pages still function as intended.
Adding new pages can also take a significant amount of time. For example, a business might need to add a new service page. To add a new service page, each page of the site will need to be changed to include the new service page in the header.
For large websites with dozens or even hundreds of pages, maintaining a static website that functions correctly becomes an insurmountable task. Any change made can cause sitewide effects due to issues with the file structure. Making small changes to sitewide elements such as the footer of the website requires that changes be made to each individual page.
Additionally, the limited functionality of a static website can cause issues with scaling the website as it grows. For example, if a business uses a static website and decides they want to allow online checkout, adding this functionality would require a third-party tool.
Is a Static Website Right for Me?
Depending on your specific use case, a static website can offer significant advantages or drawbacks.
For most local businesses, a static website fits their needs perfectly. Local businesses only need to serve an appealing website to users already in their locality and the high performance and easy indexability of a static website make it ideal.
However, eCommerce sites and large sites that require user-specific functionalities will benefit from the features of a dynamic website.