Updated on November 15, 2022

Static vs Dynamic Websites: Key Differences

Static websites are made of “fixed code,” while dynamic websites are interactive. Find out everything you need to know about the differences between these two types of webpage. 

You may have heard the terms static websites and dynamic websites thrown around when people talk, but maybe you’re a little unsure on what these two terms mean or how they are different from each other. 

Below you’ll find the definitions of dynamic and static websites with examples.

Difference in programming languages used by static vs dynamic websites

What is a static website?

Static web pages are made of “fixed code,” and unless the site developer makes changes, nothing will change on the page. Think of it like a brochure for a business. Static sites give a lot of the same type of information that you could get from a brochure, but it can’t just change itself. In order to do this, someone has to create a new page. That’s why static websites are sometimes referred to as brochure sites. 

Nothing is stored but the actual pages of a static site. There are:

  • No users

  • No comments

  • No blog posts

  • No interactivity

When is a static website built?

A static website is delivered to a user exactly the way it’s stored. That means that nothing on the page will change by the user or even the site administrator unless there’s a redesign of the site, or the site administrator goes directly into the code to change it.  

A static site is the most basic kind of website, and the easiest to create. It requires no server-side (also called back-end) processing, only client-side. Client-side technologies are HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

No programming languages, including JavaScript, are required to make a static site. However, if a site utilizes JavaScript, but no PHP or any other programming language, it’s still considered a static site (since JavaScript is a client-side language).

So, if you want a site only to give information that doesn’t need to be updated regularly, creating a static website is a simple and effective way to go.

What is a dynamic website?

There’s a simple way to determine if a site is dynamic. If you can interact with it, it’s a dynamic site. For example, dynamic sites allow you to create a user profile, comment on a post, or make a reservation.

You’ll often hear static sites called websites and dynamic sites called web apps. It all goes back to the idea that there are websites and web applications. A web application is a website, but a lot of websites can’t be web applications. For example, Facebook is a website and a web application. However, a business’s simple website is not a web application.

What is an example of a dynamic website?

Dynamic site examples include:

  • E-commerce sites

  • Blogs

  • Calendars, or to-do sites

  • Any site with information that must be updated regularly

You might hear that PHP and ASP.NET are used to generate HTML dynamically. That means that those programming languages can, with direction, change and write HTML without a person having to go into the code and change it. 

How does a dynamic website work?

Dynamic sites use languages like PHP to interact with information stored in databases. These types of languages used to create dynamic sites are also much more complicated than the client-side languages. Plus, not only is web hosting required, but databases or servers must be created as well.  For this reason, dynamic sites are much more complicated and expensive to create. 

Most dynamic sites utilize a Content Management System to, you guessed it, manage their content. Often, developers will create a custom CMS for their clients (using PHP and MySQL), but that’s not necessary. There are a lot of free systems available for your use, such as WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.

What does CRUD stand for?

A term often associated with dynamic sites is CRUD, which stands for the following four things:

  1. Create

  2. Read

  3. Update

  4. Delete

All four of these things happen when you’re working with a dynamic site because they refer to the functionality of a database. Think about a blog. In any successful blogging platform, you have the ability to create content, then be able to read or view that content on the page. You can update or edit your posts and have the option to delete them as well. All that work happens in the database. Content management systems make this process possible.

Static vs. dynamic websites: How to choose?

Both static and dynamic web pages have their place in a business and in your journey as a developer. When you first start out in web design, you may find yourself creating a lot of static sites first, and that’s okay! 

Static websites give you a chance to completely understand the client-side so that you’ll be better prepared, and have a solid base of experience to go off of, before jumping into the server-side and creating dynamic websites. They may also be useful for certain parts of your website that won’t be updated often and don’t require interactive components. 

As you work toward creating a more complex site, you may want to begin incorporating interactive elements to enhance the website experience for your visitors. You can use site builders like WordPress or try your hand at learning JavaScript or a JS framework like React

Best of luck to you as you hone your web development skills!