Static Sites vs Dynamic Sites: Modern Enterprises Need Both

Back when the internet first became popular, websites were static because the technology only supported plain HTML, CSS, and basic assets like images. With the modern technologies available today - from frontend frameworks like React and Vue.js to backend databases and CMSs - many websites are now dynamic.

In recent years, with the growth of mobile and tablet internet browsing, however, many developers find there are benefits and drawbacks to both static and dynamic websites. That’s why technologies such as JAMstack and static site generators (SSGs) have become so popular. Let’s take a closer look at static and dynamic websites, and why there’s a better solution that brings together the advantages of both. After all, most enterprises leverage a mix of both static and dynamic sites and apps.

What Are Static Sites?

A static website relies primarily on pre-rendered web pages that are kept on a server or content delivery network (CDN) and ready for browsers to consume immediately. These pages consist of HTML, CSS, static assets like image, and basic JavaScript code. With static websites, however, every user will experience nearly the same thing on each visit until developers update the source code.

The Benefits

While static websites may be an older site model, there are still many advantages to building modern static websites. These include:

Performance: the greatest advantage of static websites is that they generally have better performance than dynamic websites. And website performance is crucial because 47% of users expect a website to load in two seconds or less. With static files stored on a globally-distributed CDN, load times are drastically reduced because static assets are easy to cache and there’s no database communication required. Not only does this reduce the initial load times, but these factors make static sites faster when navigating between pages as well.

Cheaper: most static websites are easier for developers to build and maintain, and that makes them less expensive for enterprises. There’s no need to build a massive backend infrastructure with servers to process API calls and database queries on the fly. This reduced project scope leads to cheaper development costs and less monthly hosting expenses in the long run.

The Drawbacks

The main drawbacks for static websites are their lack of dynamic content and digital experiences across multiple touchpoints. These lack of marketing features include:

No Dynamic Content: the main issue with static websites for digital marketing teams is the lack of real-time content. Static sites don’t leverage content repositories in real-time to target content. This means website content cannot be tailored to specific visitors. Therefore, with static sites, there’s virtually no personalization options.

No Omnichannel Support: with a static website, the content your marketing team creates is not easy to reuse across digital channels or touch points because it’s highly coupled with the webpages. This limits the ability for enterprises to use omnichannel marketing strategies.

The Role of JAMstack and SSGs

In the modern development world, the old way of building static sites isn’t sufficient for the dynamic needs of today. JAMstack has introduced the concept of Javascript and APIs to help with the creation and editing of modern, static websites and web apps. With SSGs, like Gatsby Hugo or Jekyll, developers can compile a static site and deploy the static assets to delivery servers. JAMstack and SSGs can leverage a headless CMS in the process, for querying content at compile time.

What Are Dynamic Sites?

Dynamic websites can change page content in real-time while the user is viewing it in a web browser. These sites use a combination of client-side JavaScript to handle user functionality and other dynamic page elements, and server-side code to store, manage, and retrieve content and data dynamically as well. Dynamic sites, therefore, are capable of delivering a unique experience for each user and even provide different experiences each time users visit the site.

The Benefits

Dynamic websites may be more complicated than static websites from a technical standpoint, but they offer many advantages for marketing teams. The benefits include:

Personalization: dynamic websites are usually CMS-driven, so marketers can update content without technical knowledge. Beyond that, most CMSs offer personalization features that allow marketing teams to provide relevant content tailored to specific site visitors in real-time. AI and machine learning can even be used for data-driven content delivery.

Advanced Features: the real-time delivery of site content makes dynamic sites ideal for complex use-cases like single sign-on, e-commerce front ends, social media integration, user forums, payments, and more. Whenever you need a more interactive user experience, it’s likely necessary to build a dynamic website that can communicate with backend systems.

The Drawbacks

While there are many digital marketing and user experience benefits to dynamic websites, they’re generally more difficult to build and costlier to maintain. Here are two reasons why:

Build Complexity: many sites still rely on complex technologies for managing dynamic content. This includes CMSs built with PHP and any backend that uses a traditional SQL database for the content repository. A traditional database-driven website can’t scale as easily as a static website.

Maintenance Cost: dynamic websites require more server-side code, database management, and CMS development work that static sites don’t need. There’s added complexity for development and IT operations teams to manage the CMS software and migrate content between environments as well.

Static and Dynamic Sites for the Modern Enterprise

Enterprises tend to need a mix of both static sites and dynamic sites and apps. For example, microsites and landing pages are good examples of static use cases, whereas personalized websites, e-commerce frontends, customer portals, and employee intranets are typical examples of dynamic sites.

To get the best of both worlds, enterprises need a CMS that handles both static and dynamic use cases, and eliminating the weaknesses of both strategies. CrafterCMS does just that.

CrafterCMS can serve as a headless CMS for static site use cases. It’s REST and GraphQL APIs work well with SSGs to allow developers to create static sites while allowing marketing control over the content. Unlike simple headless CMSs, CrafterCMS brings its full content authoring capabilities to static site development.

For building dynamic sites, CrafterCMS serves as a high performance, highly scalable, and highly secure platform for building and managing all types of dynamic, digital experiences. Crafter has a multitude of personalization and advanced functionality that enables marketers to build innovative experiences. This includes targeted content, user-generated content, and data-driven personalization. Marketers can continuously publish content without waiting for developers to update source code, thereby increasing their content velocity. Crafter can even support using JAMstack for dynamic sites as well.

Unlike traditional CMSs typically used for dynamic sites, CrafterCMS boasts a modern stateless and serverless architecture that’s highly elastic, so it delivers extremely high performance and is easy to deploy and scale. And with its distributed Git-based repository and support for DevContentOps processes, it’s easier for developer teams, content teams, and IT operations teams to integrate into their workflows using Agile methodologies, CI/CD of content and code, and leverage modern automation techniques.

CrafterCMS provides modern enterprises with a robust content management solution for both static and dynamic sites and apps.

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Posted by Amanda Cunningham

Amanda Cunningham is an enthusiastic and driven digital media authority with a diverse background working on digital teams within agency, education, technology, recreation, and hotels. Amanda graduated with honors from McDaniel College with a Bachelor of Arts in History. In her free time, Amanda can be found spending time with family and friends, practicing her guitar skills, or reading a book on the couch with her three kitties.

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