Now that you’ve decided to make a website for your business, you are ready to take the next big decision: the scope. How thorough or detailed your website is going to be? What features and functionality do you want it to provide? Will it also be an e-commerce solution? Questions like these and many others will need to be answered in the planning stage to ensure that your website is created exactly according to your requirements, functions smoothly and fulfills its purpose.
A major decision in website creation is choosing between a static and dynamic website. These two don’t have to be mutually exclusive- you could have static as well as dynamic sections or pages within the same website. But on the whole, websites can usually be categorized as either ‘static’ or ‘dynamic’. What these words essentially mean for your website is that a static website is one that is developed using just html and is WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get): whatever you develop in html is exactly what will appear to the end user without any functions like individual customization or interactivity. A dynamic website, on the other hand, is one that is developed with server-side languages (such as PHP, ASP, Coldfusion etc). These scripts draw content from your website’s internal database- or content management system- and display it based on the end user’s actions. This allows for a ‘dynamic’ experience for your visitors who can interact with your website- whether it’s through forms, blog postings, message boards, an online store or personalized user accounts etc. This is a sharp contrast from content on a static website which is just displayed to the user and they can’t ‘play around with it’.
The best option for your website could be either static or dynamic- and even a mixture of both. But what it really depends on is your requirements and constraints. If your website will be used for just providing information (for instance, you just want to have pages that tell a little about yourself, display a bunch of images and provide contact information), a static website is probably the right choice for you. Static websites also usually cost less and provide you with flexibility to change up the design on every page of your website. On the down side, you’ll always need to update the website’s development code to make changes, extensions or updates. And that might require you to call upon your developer, time and time again.
If you want to enable user interaction for your site (especially if you want to have an e-commerce component) and make it a dynamic experience, you may need to pay a bit more for a dynamic website. However, a dynamic website is generally far more engaging and useful for your visitors and you can usually easily make updates and changes yourself by simply using your browser. You could add additional product categories and items without the need to changing existing code or creating more pages. You could post news and updates by just clicking the ‘post’ button. Moreover, your users could personalize your website according to their preferences. The possibilities of a dynamic website are endless.
Both static and dynamic websites serve certain purposes and either could be a complete solution for your needs. Take the time to discuss what will be the right choice for you with your designer.