While I was developing my sites, I was surprised to see that a lot of posts stating that static websites are dead. After reading the posts, it seems that most of them are merely misinformed or have a fundamental misunderstanding of how static websites worked. Though there are some reasons why dynamic sites might be better suited for a specific situation, there are many situations where that is not the case. In fact, in many instances, static websites are actually a better option.

Static websites are not dead as there are many situations where a static website is better suited than a dynamic one. Many people who think that static sites are a thing of the past don’t understand what you can do with a static site. Static websites are able to do basically anything that a dynamic website can do. That being said, if your content needs to change rapidly, it may be better to use a dynamic site. However, most websites could actually see improvements if they used a static methodology.

Let's delve into some of the myths that are being perpetuated about static websites.

Static Websites do not Adapt to Change

This myth’s premise is that the needs of your users will change over time and if you use a static website, you won’t be able to keep your site up enough to satisfy your user’s need. It also states that you’ll need a web developer on staff or you need to hire a freelancer to make changes to your site to keep it from fading into obscurity.

The problem with this one is it’s based on the falsehood that static websites are clunky websites where every page is hand-coded to serve specific content. There are many different ways that you can develop static websites, many of which you can quickly and easily make changes to. Unless you’re redesigning your site - which you would still have to do with a dynamic site - changing your content isn’t as hard as they’d like you to believe.

Static Websites are User-Blind

This myth states that because you aren’t able to interact with your users and understand their pain points with your site, you are blind to what your users want. Frustrating websites will drive your users to competitors for a better user experience.

Static websites are anything but user blind. You still have access to analytics, you can use Javascript to get feedback from the use of your site, and you can use mechanisms apart from your website - such as surveys - to truly understand what your users want.

Just using Google Analytics, I can view the journey of my users through my website hierarchy and see where they are dropping off. If I identify a trend or a page that has a high bounce rate, I may need to make changes to the site to help provide a better experience. Basically, this myth assumes that static websites can’t use Javascript, which is just incorrect.

Static Websites are Based on Assumptions

This myth seems to be a continuation about static websites being user blind because you have to assume you know what your users want without any feedback. The irony here is that they myth is making an assumption of its own that static websites are a shot in the dark.

Any good website design will take into account user feedback when designing the site. This is true whether you’re developing a static or dynamic site, yet the myth fails to take this into consideration. It also assumes static websites are produced in a vacuum without any trial period or way of incorporating user feedback into design changes. Instead, it assumes that a business will contract out the work for building a static website and be left high and dry when it all comes crashing down, which is an absurd notion.

Static Websites are Inefficient when Adding Content

This myth relies on the assumption that static websites are clunky and have to have the coding hand-updated for even minor changes to the content or the site. It further assumes that because this has to be done by hand, you must pay a web developer for any changes that are made to your site.

There is some merit to this one because you have to release a new version of your site to put new content online. Although anyone can make changes to the site, they can’t be saved to a database to be incorporated with your existing content. That doesn’t mean that it’s difficult to add content, which leads nicely into the next myth.

Static Websites are too Technical to Delegate to Content Creation

This myth is based on previous assumptions that static websites are hand-coded, individually developed, and you have to know HTML, CSS, or Javascript to be able to make changes to them. However, there are ways to delegate this type of content creation to even the most untechnical users.

The way that I write articles for my site is to put them in a standard text file and format them using a language called markdown. Markdown allows me to use simple indicators when I want to change text size, bold or italicize content, create lists, as well as a myriad of other formatting options. Markdown is exceptionally easy for users to learn, and I’ve found that it’s an easy syntax to use for non-technical writers.

If you combine this with a script that automatically publishes new versions of your site, it’s easy to have users write an article, use markdown to format the text, then put it in a folder that triggers the new version of your site to publish. I like to serve in the editor’s role, so I want writers to submit their works to me for review, which I then release myself. It might be a bit more tedious than an easy to use GUI interface, but it’s not exceedingly tough by any measurement.

Let’s shift focus slightly and look at the reasons that dynamic sites are often touted as being superior to static ones.

CMSs are Constantly Updated

This is true, but it’s because flaws are consistently found. The unspoken assumption is that when a new version of the CMS is published, you’ll immediately update your software. While there are some hosts out there that automatically update your software to the latest version, there are just as many others that rely on you to update your own software.

To further complicate this position, many people who rely on a CMS to publish their sites use plugins to add functionality to their users. Plugins are often found to have security problems, and most hosts don’t automatically update plugins.

The main point behind this myth is that this a CMS is more secure than a static website because they’re continuously being improved. This contention is ludicrous when you look at just the potential for security problems. Static sites have very few moving parts that make it possible for them to be hacked. Basically, the hacker will have to access your file host to be able to manipulate the content on your site. With dynamic websites, any web page that interacts with your database has the potential for exploitation.

Dynamic Sites Offer Better User Interaction

This myth assumes that static websites offer no level of user interaction. It’s thought that static sites present data that merely sits there waiting for a user to consume it. There are no moving parts, no way of accepting input from users, and no way of allowing a user to do anything but read what is already there.

Static websites are still able to implement Javascript, which offers many different ways that you can interact with your users. It is also possible to provide interaction on your website without using Javascript strictly using CSS. You can also implement external tools - such as a mailing list - through external providers to allow feedback with your site. The main difference between static and dynamic sites is how the content is built, not what you can do once a user visits your page.

CMS Better Scale to Content

This myth says that you can better scale dynamic websites because you can quickly and more easily add content to your site. One error this one makes is that it assumes that you only scale content, not the distribution of that content.

Static websites have a different workflow than dynamic ones, but that doesn’t make them scale better or worse. If you create an automated publishing workflow, you can quickly push new content to your website. If your traffic increases and you set up your hosting correctly, the host will be able to handle massive spikes in traffic due to the small footprint prevalent with static websites.

Final Thoughts

It seems that most of these myths about static websites are due to the confusion between static sites and static layouts on websites. Also, the misconception that static websites have to have every page hand-coded and created by a web developer makes matters worse. The truth is that a static site - when developed correctly - are very much alive. Static websites may not be right for every situation, but they still have a place on the Internet.

Related Questions

Can you use Javascript on static websites? - The short answer, yes. Static websites are just websites that are derived from static content and can offer the same features as dynamic sites. The main difference is the lack of a database and not needing a web server to run the scripts to generate a page.

What is a static layout? - Static layouts are hard-coded websites that rely on static measurements - usually pixels - that do not adapt or adjust to different screen sizes or resolutions. As a general rule, static sites are not mobile friendly and are generally larger than adaptive or responsive layouts due to large media being served on the page.

Thank you for reading my content, and I hope you’ve learned a few things about static websites.

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