Understanding static websites

By definition, a static website implies it does not change over time. More precisely a static website is free of programming. In other words, a static website does not have a built-in programming capability to change on its own or with minimum amount of effort on the part of website owner or manager. In terms of what a static website does or supports, is limited to just presentation of the information. It won't let your customers order online or perform other activities without some programming enhancements.

Static websites present the same general information to all web audiences. There is no personalization involved. A static website does not serve a specific content to specific targeted people. Everyone seeing a static website see the same information. Think of the last time you mailed coupons to your customers. The coupons are not personalized to an individual; for instance, the coupons just read take "10% off purchase” of your product or service. Your coupons don't read "John, take 10% off purchase” of your product or service. The difference obviously is that the former is intended for everyone while the latter is reserved specifically for John. Similarly, when your website content is not personalized, it is considered a static website, like your coupons intended for anyone's use. On the other hand, a personalized website –like a personalized coupon - is considered a dynamic website.

It is worth introducing some historical perspective. The first generation of the websites in the 1990's was purely static. This is why the earlier websites did not support e-commerce or other business or government activities that we all now rely on everyday to research, shop, entertain, and so on.

A static website always looks the same whether the customer looks at it today or a year later. A static website may be a good choice for a small auto service owner wanting to display some general information of his business (such as business hours, location, services performed, and so on). But for a small newspaper owner, a static website is not a realistic choice because readers want information that is presently fresh and relevant, not something what happened a year ago. So a newspaper owner needs a dynamic website, a website that is updateable in real-time, with minimum amount of effort.

Advantages of static websites

In deciding whether your business needs a static or dynamic website consider these advantages of a static website:

  • Low costs – static website have lower development costs because for an experienced technical professional they are simple to create and manage. It is also true that web hosting costs are low for static websites. Again, this is due to the simplicity of the website, requiring minimal hardware and software resources to function.
  • Fast development – a static website has shorter development times because of the minimal or no complexity involved.
  • Perfect for small business owners – small business owners' needs often are met with static websites. Unlike large businesses, small business owners don't have complex systems that need to integrate, and interact to accomplish multiple objectives.
  • Customizable for future growth – if done right, a static website can and should be structured and built for future business growth and online ambitions.

Disadvantages of static websites

Like all technologies, there are limitations on what static websites can do or support. Here are some issues worth noting on static websites:

  • Little or minimal control – as a small business owner lacks expertise and knowledge to build and maintain a website, he/she will need to rely on an outsourced professional or agency.
  • Lack of personalized content – a static website displays the same information over and over unless the information is updated. In other words, the same message is shown to all web audiences, there is no personalization material to a specific customer.
  • Lack of advanced features –If you want your website to let your customers interact (i.e., order online, check order status, or order or schedule service) with your website rather than just view or read, you need a dynamic website.

Getting most of a static website for your small business

In this section we answer the question should you get a static for your business? A static website can be used by any small business owner who wants a simplistic online solution with minimum investment. So a physician's website may list his/her services, the type of medical insurance plans accepted, hours of operation, location, and so on. Notice each of the items we have mentioned to list on the physician's website is constant or does not (and is expected to) change overtime. The physician's services are going to remain the same and so is his location.

As this static website does not need to change regularly, the physician does not have to spend any money on web maintenance costs until there is an update or a need for more advanced features. So a static website adequately addresses the needs of small business owners or professionals requiring no or rare updates.

However, keep in mind a static website may be adequate for your business for now but it should be built to support future enhancements that your business may need. To extend our example of a physician's website, suppose it is determined customer service will greatly improve if patients made and managed their appointments online. The beauty of such a system is that the patients no longer need to wait for business hours to make or manage their appointments. They can conveniently do so at their own hours.

The hardware and software of a static website should support this and other enhancements without sacrificing the current benefits of the website. So if you decide you need a static website for now, make sure your web agency team understands not only that but also in the future you may want interactive (or advanced) features, without the need of new hardware, software, and new site structure.

Posted on 7/17/2011 3:19:42 PM