Static websites still need some type of architecture for your site, right? Now the term architecture is ambiguous as it can refer to the way the pages on your site are constructed - known as its information architecture - or it can refer to the platform that you use to serve your website to the world. There are a lot of similarities between dynamic hosted sites and static websites, but there are some differences - especially in the approach - that you need to be aware of if you plan to use a static website.

If you’re talking about information architecture, static websites are laid out the same way that you would for a dynamic site. If you are talking about the platform that your site runs on, there are some significant difference between the way that your static website is architected when compared to dynamic sites. To facilitate this conversation, let’s break down the discussion between the two major categories of architecture.

Platform Architecture

This is where the essential differences between static websites and dynamic websites are found. To help you understand what makes static sites unique, let’s take a look at how a dynamic website serves data to its users.

Dynamic Websites

Dynamic websites have a database, a server, some type of backend scripts, Javascript, HTML files and CSS files. Dynamic sites serve their data by using scripts to pull data from the database to create or combine with the HTML files that are delivered to the user’s browser. The CSS files can be static or dynamic and are used to style the HTML files that are sent to the user. For instance, if you allow your users to choose what theme they’re using, your script can pull their selection from the database and use that to customize the CSS file that is delivered.

Static Website Architecture

Static sites have consist of HTML, CSS, and Javascript that are delivered directly to the user’s browser. There is no computation involved in creating the page that will be transmitted to the user, and there is no database that needs to be queried to generate the page. There are some advantages and disadvantages to this approach, and I cover why you want to develop using a static paradigm in my article on the Features of Static Websites. Suffice it to say that this simpler design does have some significant benefits.

Information Architecture

The information architecture of a website is the way that you lay out the information on a site. When people visit a website, there are some expectations that they have regardless of the type of website that you’re running. Users expect some sort of navigation that they can use to find what they’re looking for on your site. They also assume that the most important information - or at least an indication of it - is shown at the top of your page, that your design doesn’t get in the way of your users finding their information, and that users can find what they’re looking for without having to hunt for it.

Because users have basic expectations for what a website will do for them, static websites are easily able to compete with dynamic sites in this arena. You need to have some idea of how your users desire to interact with your website, what information they’re looking for in what order, and where they can find more information.

Static websites aren’t able to use heuristic algorithms - at least not without substantial frontend Javascript - to judge what type of information your users are searching for. Based on past interactions with your site, dynamic sites can determine whether to show a pair of shoes in black instead of the standard blue. However, for many types of websites, this level of customization just isn’t necessary.

What You Need to Get Your Static Website Published

If you have an idea for a website, hosting your site statically is an excellent way to get your content published. Static websites are generally faster and more secure than their dynamic counterparts, and you can get started without having to pay anything out of pocket unless you want a custom domain. There are only a few things that you need to get started with your website.

  • Static web host - you need somewhere to host your files so you will need some sort of repository to store your information. There are quite a few services out there that allow you to how your website statically. The one that I’m currently using to host my sites is Google Firebase.

  • A Custom Domain - If you’re just looking to keep track of your personal information or something you do not feel is relevant to anyone else, you may not need this. If you’re planning on trying to build an audience, you need a custom domain to help your users find your site. Most domain registrars allow you to purchase your domain for as little as $12 for a year!

  • An SSL Certificate - If you’re hoping to have your site appear towards the top of Google and there is any kind of competition in your niche, then you need an SSL certificate. Additionally, all major browsers will warn users when they connect to a website that isn’t secure. One of the reasons I chose Google Firebase is that it offers SSL certificates for free.

  • A Text Editor - You need some way to be able to write your code. Luckily, all you need is a text editor to write any code. Not all text editors are created equally, though. I prefer to use Brackets to write my code as it support syntax highlighting, code peeking, and allows you to install plugins to tweak how the application works. It’s also developed by Adobe, is well supported, and works on any operating system.

Final Thoughts

The architecture of static website shares some similarities with dynamic sites. The architecture of how information is displayed on the page is similar between the two types of sites. The architecture that powers static sites has much fewer requirements as you do not need any computing power and you do not need a database to store your site’s information.

Related Questions

What do I need to build a static website? - To make a static website, you just need somewhere to host your files and a text editor to create them. If you want to improve your site, purchase a custom domain for $12/year, and you can help your site stand out.

Are static websites better than dynamic websites? - This answer is highly subjective, and you’ll find reasoned positions for both sites of the debate. The answer is it depends on what your goals for your website are and how you intend to interact with your users. Static websites offer you a way to host your information with minimal requirements while providing better security and speed at a lower cost than dynamic ones.

Thank you for reading my content. I sincerely appreciate that you are here. If you have any comments on my opinions, I would love to hear from you.

If you have any questions about hosting a static website, how to create a static website or just general website questions, please comment below!