A static website is like a brochure website with simple HTML pages. As the name goes, the website remains static, that is, it doesn’t change according to user behaviour on your website and if you have to change it, you have to change the source code of individual web pages.
A dynamic website on the other hand can alter its behaviour according to user input.
If you want to be strict with the definition, even a website with a contact form can be termed as a dynamic website.
But a website can exist without your contact form. You can have just the contact form portion of your website dynamic – the code processes user input and emails you the details, so, some sort of dynamic activity is happening here. But it doesn’t affect the rest of your website.
A static website can also have animation for that matter. You can embed a video and after embedding the video you may think that you have a dynamic website.
In terms of web design and web development, a website that does not depend on a database is normally considered a static website and a website that is powered by a database, or, a content management system, is known as a dynamic website.
A website having a shopping cart is definitely a dynamic website. A website being managed using WordPress is also a dynamic website. Even if you seem to be having static pages, since the website is being managed through a content management system (WordPress) it is a dynamic website.
When to have a dynamic or a static website?
Although, every business aspires to generate more business from its website, whether you want to go with a dynamic website or a static website depends on what you expect from your website and whether your website finally meets your expectation or not.
The point is, if you want to generate more business from your website, you need to promote your website so that people can find it and then come to it to consider you as a viable business partner, right? But how do you promote your website?
You can use Google AdWords or Bing Ads: These are PPC campaigns (pay per click) and according to your bidding price you pay for every click these search engines send your way. This mode of getting traffic to your website is quite straightforward. You create a landing page and then create PPC campaigns to get traffic to this landing page.
How much money you spend on your PPC campaigns and how much business your campaigns can generate for you, depends on your business, on the nature of your audience, and of course, the strength of your campaign. It can turn out to be a costly affair, although, businesses that can afford PPC campaigns, do use them to great advantage.
But, on your own, you may end up throwing a ton of money down the drain if you don’t know the ins and outs of PPC campaign management.
Anyway, if you invest in a PPC campaign, whether you have a dynamic website or a static website, or even a single landing page, it doesn’t matter.
As an alternative, you can use SEO and social media marketing: This organically improves your presence on search engines. Once you improve your search engine rankings, whether one person clicks on your link or a million, you don’t have to pay anything to Google or Bing.
But improving your search engine rankings means you need to publish quality content on an ongoing basis and this is not possible with a static website. You can have 5-10, or even 20 web pages in a static website, but if you need to update your website constantly, you need a content management system like WordPress or Drupal. Yes, a dynamic website.
A CMS-powered website, once it has been set up properly, can be easily managed by a non-technical staff. Although some level of comfort with technology is needed when it comes to managing your website properly, they don’t need to be web designers to publish new content on your website regularly. They need to write well, they need to know how to write for search engine crawlers, but that’s it.
The great thing about having a dynamic website – a website powered by a content management system – is that whether you have 10 web pages or 1000 web pages, adding new web pages or modifying existing web pages is extremely easy. The dashboard of your CMS allows you to retrieve any page you have on your website within a few seconds. It allows you to add images and videos. It allows you to create complicated FAQs sections. Even if you want to add a shopping cart, it is much easier to add it to an already dynamic website rather than a static website.
Anyway, why this question about whether you should have a dynamic website or a static website?
Many business owners mistakenly think that a static website is cheaper than a dynamic website. Maybe that was the case 15 years ago, but not now. Every web hosting package that you get these days allows you to have PHP pages. PHP is a programming language and if you can run PHP pages (sure, you can use PHP pages even to have static web pages) this means you can have a dynamic website.
Even initially if you don’t have any plans to have an interactive website powered by a CMS, it is better to go for a dynamic website so that there is always a scope to add more features.