Static Websites vs. Dynamic Websites

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Thanks to Saurabh Vyas for being a contributing editor of this post.

Static Website

A is a website where the pages are typically coded in HTML format and where the pages on the server are in the exact same format that they are in when they are sent to the client web browser. In a , web pages are built dynamically on the web server and then sent to the client browser.

On a static website, everyone sees the same information. It is like the web server returns a static brochure to every client browser request. The brochure can be updated by the website owner from time to time, but this is a manual process that requires editing text and photos. The person doing the editing must have extensive knowledge of how HTML works.

Four Categories of Editors for Static Websites

Type Description
Text Editors Notepad or TextEdit allow content and HTML to be modified within the editor
WYSIWYG Offline Editors What You See Is What You Get – Adobe Dreamweaver is an example. This editor allows you to work with a GUI front end and the HTML is generated automatically on the back end.
WYSIWYG Online Editors Online WYSIWYG editors allow you to create media rich content online.
Template-based Editors Rapidweaver and iWeb allow you select templates to start with and then you can modify content and photos.

Dynamic Website

A dynamic website is one that creates web pages on the fly when they are requested. This allows the content to fluctate based on the requester, date, data in a database, or many other factors.

There are two types of dynamic activity on a dynamic website: Dynamic code and Dynamic content. The dynamic code is hidden from the requestor browser and usually resides on the web server. The dynamic content is visible to the requestor, and it is what they see when they request a web page.

Dynamic Code

Dynamic code is a set of blocks of instructions that can be executed in different sequences based on the request. This code often resides in the server in the form of Visual Basic or C# code, but it can be returned to the browser in the form of javascript.

The web server executes the code on the server in order to create the html page that is returned to the requester. The browser can execute the javascript on the browser to make the user experience more interactive – for example, a tip may appear when the user hovers the mouse over a button.

One of the most powerful features of a dynamic website is that it can connect to a database. The database can contain a great deal of information, and instructions called queries are sent from the web server to the database server to retrieve whatever information is needed.

Dynamic Content

The content that the requester sees can change based on their request. For example, a dynamic web page can show sales for first quarter, second quarter, and so on based on the request.

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