Building and maintaining websites is complicated. Really, really complicated. It wasn’t always this way. Websites were once made up of simple text files. If you needed to change something on one of these “static” websites, you changed a text file. Then came a desire to take editing out of the hands of “webmasters” (remember those?) and put that power into the hands of clients. Content management systems were born, using a database to store and serve content and providing the functionality to add and edit content through a web browser. These “dynamic” websites are now the overwhelming norm. Sounds great, right? Not so fast.
While many of our clients do need the power and flexibility that come with a dynamic website, we’ve built many sites for clients who could have opted for a cheaper option: a static website.
Is a Static Website For Me?
If you don’t anticipate changing your content very often, then a dynamic CMS-powered website can be overkill. You're paying for features you won't use often enough to warrant the investment. It’s a little like paying for a luxury car package with satellite radio and a sunroof you forget you have.
Let’s face it. Updating a website—even with the finest content management systems—isn’t fun. Updating it infrequently is even worse because chances are you’ve forgotten how your CMS works. With a static website, updates are back in your web developer’s hands. When you need changes, you simply call or email. And you pay only for the updates you need, not for the CMS you infrequently use. There are more advantages to a static website besides cost, faster development time, and not having to worry about maintaining your website’s content directly. You’ll also no longer have to worry (as much) about security or software updates. A static website, freed from a content management system and database, is much less prone to hacks and security holes. That means no need to update CMS software or underlying server software—and faster, easier backups. You can also put your website on just about any hosting platform. And, because there’s no database to query, and no underlying CMS platform to run, your website will be lightning fast (provided your web developer has also properly optimized your static site.)
Do the Math
If you’re not sure if a static website is for you, ask yourself: Will I get a higher return on my investment with a dynamic site, or from spending my budget on evocative copywriting, gorgeous design, and a well-planned marketing campaign? No one visiting your website notices or cares that it’s powered by the latest shiny content management system. But they will notice if your site’s voice is stiff, your logo amateurish, your social media engagement nonexistent, or the hundred other things that can make or break a website’s effectiveness.
There are, of course, cases where a static site isn’t feasible, like e-commerce sites or those featuring ever-changing content, like an online publication. But for many other websites, a static approach is cheaper, better, and faster. Even if you’re planning on making fairly frequent updates to a site, it pays to ask your web developer what they’d charge to do it for you on a static website. Don’t forget that a CMS hides the cost in time and resources a person or company needs to devote to updating a website. Finally, remember that a website isn’t forever. You'll likely be revisiting your website in five years or less to update it for new devices, new technologies, and new web browser capabilities. Better a less expensive static site that’s fresh every three to five years than a “dynamic” site that you can’t afford to redesign more than once a decade because of the complexity of the underlying content management system.
Have a site you need redesigned? Intrigued by the idea of a static website? Contact us for a quote.