Types of Websites

Not too far in the distant past, there were basically only two types of websites: Static and Dynamic, with static sites dominating the landscape. However, today most websites (even simple ones) tend to be built with dynamic content management systems.

Static sites were composed of individual, physical text files. For instance, ‘home.html’ and ‘contact.html’ were both made of actual files that resided in a web server’s hard-drive. These pages where written in a simple language called Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) with instructions on how to render content, layout, links, and images. Static sites using HTML files were good enough for sites in which content was not expected to change on a regular basis.

One advantage static sites had was that the files were relatively small and could load on a browser very fast. This was specially desirable when bandwidth was limited to a dial-up Modems’ capacity. However, to create and manage your site, you needed adequate coding skills and lots of patience. When your site needed to be updated, you had to manually edit each file, which could be particularly laborious, for instance, if you had several pages where the menu had to be modified.

A dynamic site is more complicated under the hood, but it pushes the complexities of the interface to the back-end, thereby automating many of the tasks needed to edit pages and allowing users to have better control over content creation, menus, and even functions. More importantly, dynamic sites allows them to interact with their visitors in ways not suited to their static counterparts. For instance, they can be integrated with calendars, polls, message forums, and blogs. For the most part, site owners don’t really need to have any coding skills and certainly don’t have to know how it all works. Editing a page, page components, or sections is no harder than working with a word processor. Moreover, updates to components, such as the menu, propagate automatically throughout the site.

How Dynamic Sites Work

Dynamic sites rely on numerous parts to render a page. PHP scripts, MySql databases, Javascript, and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and HTML are the main ingredients to make it all work. When a visitor types a web address in their browser, a script is called that creates the page according to parameters taken from a database, so each page is generated as they are called by the web browser. Javascript and CSS are used to help render the visual style of the page, such as the layout and some transition effects.

Sites that require this type of website typically have many interactive features for their users, handle high volume traffic, and make frequent updates to content. The biggest advantage is the ability to seamlessly integrate a rich set of applications to interact with visitors, plus businesses and professionals acquire more power and flexibility to manage their content. The downside, if any, is that these systems can be rather complex to setup initially and may require professional help.

Some of the most popular and powerful platforms are based on open source and include WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, osCommerce, and Zencart.

Whether your current site is static or dynamic, Visualis Web Design can help you maintain it or give it a much needed overhaul. If you would like to migrate your old static website to an interactive and dynamic site, give us a call for a free consultation.