1. Anatomy of a static website

    A static website is an organized collection of simple files, much like documents on your own computer, made available on the Internet. When a someone visits a page on a static site, they are simply downloading and viewing an HTML file and usually a few other associated files such as images and stylesheets, just like you would download any other file. This is the extent of the technology, and its simplicity is its greatest strength.

  2. Modern static sites

    You may have heard of static sites before, and you may be under the impression that they are somehow outdated–anachronisms, relics. Maybe you have personal experience with such sites, or perhaps you have technical contacts who view them with disdain. Such attitudes may be warranted in the case of static sites that have been created by coding one page at a time, without templates or global mechanisms of any sort, so that adding a page means updating the menu on every other page, in code, one by one. This can undoubtedly turn into a nightmare of inconsistency and laborious updates. This is the old way, though. The very old way.

  3. Advantages of a static website

    The advantages of a static site are many, but the most salient are extremely fast load time, impeccable security, and ultimate stability.

  4. The status quo in a nutshell

    The vast majority of websites these days are dynamic: they use a database and a scripting language (often PHP) and provide at least the potential for sophisticated user interaction. Although powerful, dynamic sites are also technically complex with many concomitant drawbacks. If you are primarily interested in content, you don’t need a dynamic site. You’re better off with a static site.

  5. What website visitors want

    There are often discrepancies between the values of website owners and website visitors. Website owners are often primarily concerned with the appearance of their websites at the expense of those things that website visitors want: speed, clarity, and a complete absence errors of any sort. Appearance is of course important, but there is a threshold beyond which design matters little: a minimum viable design.

  6. The power of dynamic websites comes at a cost

    The internet as we know it wouldn’t be possible without dynamic, database driven websites. They are impressive feats of software engineering made possible by the collaboration of millions of highly skilled developers. But their power and complexity require maintenance, vigilance, and coordination of a variety of technologies if they are not to get hacked or end up a white screen with nothing but an inscrutable error message (or both).

  7. What is a dynamic website?

    Most websites these days are dynamic. This term refers not to motion on the screen but to activity behind the scenes, in the dim recesses of a web server. A dynamic site has a lot to do: it runs scripts (programs) that communicate with a database and then build pages as they are requested (which is what you do when you navigate to a web page by either clicking a link or typing a web address into your browser’s address bar). A static site uses neither a database nor scripts and doesn’t ask much of the web server. Its pages are prefabricated, ready to serve up to you when you request them, no assembly required. It’s a lot like using the file browser on your computer: you double click a file and it opens. Simple.