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Static vs Dynamic Websites — Why Is This Even Important?

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clock-iconAugust 22, 2020
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We started WebriQ Goes Mad and WebriQ GLUE to bring the power of static websites and the JAMstack to small businesses and enterprises who would otherwise have a hard time joining the web development revolution that is happening right now.

The winds of change are really beginning to blow in web development and content management system communities around the world. Needless to say, static websites are on fire right now. They ought to be because, well, they rock!

This shift may leave a large section of the business community in a lurch and will eventually need to be addressed.

Today I am writing to those in the business and marketing communities that are early adopters or who simply want to stay aware of the changing landscape.

Simply put, modern web architecture like the JAMstack is allowing this change to happen. JAMstack methodology really makes static websites a better solution for business.

I’ve written about this before and gradually we are gaining steam as we help create a movement with our web design as a service (WDaaS) business model that we deploy at our startup WebriQ Goes Mad.

The strengths of the JAMstack really allow us to do this as we can leave all the operational headaches and problems of the standard web-server centric systems behind.

What is JAMstack Anyway?

JavaScript, APIs, and Markup

We’ve answered this question on our blog before. Basically, the JAMstack is a new methodology to build and deploy websites, web apps, and other web systems via a decentralized approach. Essentially, it is a new way to build a static website. We use the word ‘static’ because everything is prebuilt, file-based, and does not require webservers to dynamically create the website or app.

We make full use of JAMstack for our WDaaS here at WebriQ because it is just a highly flexible and efficient way of creating websites that are static. We shall explain what a static web page a bit further on, so, for now, let's focus on the JAMstack methodology.

This technology makes it easier for web page owners to serve up content to their visitors. The program takes the content from the client-side and then creates and delivers static HTML files to users. These client-side content are stored in flat HTML files and not in an old-school database or web server, which tend to be clunky and have an unideal performance in today's standards. On the way to delivering the content to users, the needed layout and formatting will already be applied.

For more information on the JAMstack, check out another blog post we wrote: JAMstack is the Solution to Your Rapidly Aging Content Management System

Heck! Just visit our whole blog! It is chock full of great articles.

What Is a Dynamic vs Static Website? Why Do We Care?

A Dynamic Website is very status quo and old school.

Almost all websites today are classified as a dynamic website and this makes sense from a historical context. They are easy to build, customization is fairly straightforward, and updating them is a cinch. On the face of it, they are an easy way to make pretty complex websites, however, there are hidden costs in the back end.

Despite this, the real issues of a dynamic website result from how it functions using a web server and a database; meaning this clunky system results in operational and scaling issues. Add in the fact that the internet has drastically changed while dynamic websites haven’t and the problems really start to pile up. Scaling up those page numbers on your site, delivering quality content, maintaining your server, and improving your website can be such a headache with dynamic sites.

Even more problematic is the reality that there are still many proponents that point to a dynamic web page as a positive. Take for example the communities that surround popular dynamic Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress or Drupal. These people have gotten so used to working with a dynamic website and probably aren't open to working with a static site. They also work with a lot of third-party plugins that seem great, but are really a security nightmare! For example, mismanaged plugins are the number one way a WordPress website can be compromised.

Basically Dynamic websites are creatures in constant motion and keeping them running and secure is a constantly moving target. These factors result in overly expensive operations that really doesn’t deliver much value.

Static Sites are a return to fundamentals and the future.

What are static websites? There is nothing new about static websites and static sites generators. A static website is simply a complete HTML site and used to be the only way to build and create websites. The need for complex functionality used to require a dynamic methodology using a web server, but that is no longer the case for sites today thanks to the JAMstack.

By removing a dedicated web server and database from the functionality of the website and replacing them with static site generators that have APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) as a code foundation, you can have all the complexities of a dynamic site without the operational or security headaches.

As mobile-first indexing and page speed are becoming more important to website ranking factors, static websites are just better for any SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy. More importantly, users appreciate faster websites that work perfectly no matter what device they are using to interface with that site.

Lastly, by using JAMstack methods to build a static website, not only do you get greatly reduce load times of web pages and a faster website, but you also decentralize the system. This leads to increased stability and flexibility when it comes to changing, updating and securing your website.

Why does all this matter?

From a historical view, it is easy to see why we went from creating a static website to preferring a dynamic website. But that was before the true power of the cloud existed and now we are returning to the static website environment but in a better way. Back in the day, web servers weren’t commoditized and everything, even email, was hosted on one single server or another. That trend changed a long time ago. These days, you can use a static site generator to create sites that can meet both backend and front-end requirements with ease.

The beauty of the internet is that it doesn’t stand still. Even current static site generators continue to evolve their code and applications to serve their clients better. Adhering to the status quo results in stories similar to Kodak or Blockbuster. In other words, you will end up with a website that is behind the times.

We formed WebriQ Goes Mad to bring this new innovation to small businesses and enterprises who don’t want to get left behind. Dynamic websites are falling off the wayside and a static website is now one of the best ways to go forward and succeed online.

The WebriQ JAMstack Experience

We have been building and supporting our opensource system, WebriQ content management system, since 2009. We are very familiar with the old dynamic way of doing things. We saw all the headaches, frustrations and shortcomings of working on these legacy systems and old-school website generators. A dynamic site can truly be a pain in the neck whereas we continue to find that a static site generator has so many amazing possibilities.

In 2016 we began to look into new and better ways to build and deploy websites and we created a major upgrade to WebriQ content management system. We began building static websites with WebriQ CMS as a headless content management system. The benefits were immediate.

Here are just a few things we (and our customers) enjoyed with static site generation:

  • Speed!! Static web pages are wicked fast. Like ludicrously fast.
  • A static website means cost-effective development and deployment. By removing the web servers and clunky code systems, and by simplifying the DevOps our costs were reduced and we’ve been able to pass that savings through to our customers.
  • A static website is highly scalable! JAMstack methodology allows static web pages and progressive web apps to scale to the internet. It is a no-brainer.
  • Security. Imagine working hard on your dynamic site content only for it to be compromised by security breaches? For sure that will be a painful time for you. Going down the static website route and using JAMstack methods reduces the security footprint of a website significantly. Classic attacks from harmful code like DDOS, SQL injection, or malware are nullified.

Simplifying the JAMstack for Businesses

Our foray into JAMstack methods and static websites made self-service on the websites we built difficult. Using legacy tools like WordPress can be fairly simple after a learning curve. You can create page after page of content once you get the hang of the WordPress dashboard. But using decentralized methods aren’t as easy as using a centralized drag and drop tool.

This led us to explore the DIY website space further and we learned a whole slew of issues that exist for small businesses and enterprises trying to do it themselves. For example, a page or a piece of content may look great today but once you installed a new plugin, you end up with a bunch of issues or poorly-formatted content. The page load time of your site may slow down as well. And there will be many more website issues to plague you for sure after updates or if a new app/plugin code is introduced.

Our methodology was infinitely better, hence we are sticking with creating a static site for our customers as opposed to a dynamic website. But we needed a better service model too.

Creating WSaaS: a new category in the industry

We had this awesome opensource WebriQ content management system. Why not stop selling to developers and instead sell directly to small businesses? We needed a better system to support and maintain the sites and content of our clients than just a DIY tool.

Almost out of necessity, we created our WebriQ Goes Mad business model. Unlimited support for a flat monthly fee. Not only did we create a business model to address all the issues with a dynamic web page and legacy systems, we also turned the DIY service model on its head.

We did all this at a price point way below average and a value proposition not found in the industry now.

Describing our service is a whole other article so stay tuned for that. You can get a quick taste by reading this article: Stop Using DIY Web Site Builders For Your Small Business Website

What’s Next?

Adopting JAMstack methods and open-source projects has been great for our customers and our business, and for clients' sites of course. It has allowed us to deliver way more service than is currently available inside the industry. Our customers also enjoy a more secure server, quicker page loading, non-clunky HTML codes, and more. The advantages of the sites we code for them are clear once you really look into it.

First, it’s a winning strategy for businesses looking to capitalize on an SEO strategy and deliver their content in the best way possible, both to human visitors and to search engines. Google loves a static website, and simply put, page speed and load time are very important right now.

Additionally, PWAs (Progressive Web Apps) are the next big frontier for web page development. As mobile web usage becomes bigger and bigger, the need to bring high-quality native-like experiences to users no matter what device or browser they are using is a growing need. That can definitely be accomplished by a static website.

Static sites are the future and they will be here to stay.