Dynamic Websites vs Static Websites

So let’s get started cause this shit is really important.

Most of you already know that it’s not too hard to start building a website if you do a little research.  For most beginners and intermediate web designers, they know that shit is really easy if they take shortcuts but they also know the imminent dangers of cutting corners too.  There are people who want to learn how to do it the right way, there are people who just want to make small updates to a good website without learning to code, and then there are those who take short cuts to get both done, very half fast. Don’t be the latter.

We are going to explore all three routes with the birth of dynamic websites like content management systems, frameworks,  and the old school but very noble static HTML5 website along with a thing called the theme.

So most of you web developers know how to code when it comes to html5 and if you have to transfer it to another hosting service or test it at home, it’s easy.

website-easy
After all, you just have to change the some paragraphs or swap out the image when you get that email from your project manager for quick updates or when your big client in Bellevue or New York needs you to update something minor. So what happens when clients start using CMS systems like squarespace, wix, or other DIY (do it yourself) web builder?  Ah, not to worry right? so easy web builders  are the future, we don’t need some stinking web designer or developer anymore. We can just drag and drop everything to our website.

Of course we know that this isn’t true because there are plenty of web designers and developers that work around the  clock.  So we get a novice to build a site on one of these web builders…

monkeyOh boy it’s cheap, monthly hosting is $1.00 and I feel like I can do anything! Oh wait, there’s no button for this facebook/twitter app that shows recent postings. Oh wait, I can’t put an e-commerce system or how come I can’t add a credit card check out system? People can’t comment on my website? Oh, I have to upgrade, and pay $12 a month? You limit to only 20 products? If I pay more I can add more pages and products? Wait how come my developer friend said you can do unlimited pages, bandwidth, or products!? Wait what? Oh OK, but I can’t take the images, logos, or apps that you supply from the web builder if I cancel and go to another hosting. I can’t pull the website over to another server? Oh, I can’t hire a web developer to make hard code changes because you don’t have an ftp? What’s an ftp? Oh..Ah…Ooh.

So now you build the site the old school way, HTML5, CSS and a little Javascript. It looks good, you took a short course in college and learned everything in a couple of months. Alright!  So then you notice other websites have cool apps and features that might be too tedious to code.  Advertisements,  comment systems, stores, and most importantly the social networking capability and structured data.    One of your co-workers or programmers that’s an expert in the web industry introduces you to the CMS.  Content management system. It’s like a web builder but offers a lot more than your basic vanilla web builder.  You can add apps, an e-commerce system, people can comment on your site like it’s a blog, uploading photos take a few seconds and it resizes them for you! Fuck yeah! this rocks.  So then you realize that your site looks kinda of boring. It looks like a typical blog with out any soul.

joomla-default

You can change the color of the background, add a logo, add some pretty photos but it still looks and functions like a free blog or cheap website.  You know you can do better than that.  At this point, a beginner is making a nice website at their first attempt and you’re jealous because you went to school, damn it.

So you do your research and find out about the theme.  Oh boy, you feel like a Rockstar now.  You can swap out the style and framework within a click of a button. You learn about the basics of the CMS, wether it is joomla, weebly, or wordpress. You even get your college degree in MySQL and php so you can create your own content management system.  You know how to put it together but then you purchase a cheap theme for $40 and it looks nice.   The free themes are getting old so you compile faster methods and follow the basic directions. You decide to take short cuts because you know creating a theme like this might take you weeks and even months so you purchase a license and resell them and become one of these consultant developers.  You realize that some of the themes have their own rules. You’ve already put the default CMS together by making sure the basic settings, installation, custom php codes, and your server is connected to the right database with the username and password.

complicated-themesThe theme is easy to understand but as you try to learn a different theme, these new developers don’t let you change things you could normally do or they’ve  implemented their own micro MVC and data structuring that prevents you from making basic changes. Even worse, they expect you to get a premium version just to change the color or use basic things like Google font styles.  You can change all of that with the css.  Oh My God,  Now you have to create your own child style sheet, php methods, custom MySQL, Angularjs framework or JQuery function to make things work. You realize that the new update of the theme breaks all your code and now you have to start all over again.  Sound like some Bullshit? yup, there is an old marketing guy in the back of the tech industry that wants to see the world burn.  So in the professional world, it’s nice to know when a theme goes perfectly without a bug and seamlessly with a new server.   Does that happen often? it depends.

There is a pro and con for everything. The open-source community is a good start but it can also become unreliable and chaotic.  There are tons of ways companies can make a profit from these opportunities, they know how to market a free product and make it profitable but it only requires knowledge.

Fair enough, you study hard and create a product based on your hard work and knowledge.

The bottom line is, a dynamic website might have proprietary methods that can not be treated like a regular static HTML5 website.  The worst case scenario is always something to consider.

worst-case-scenario

So the rule of thumb is make a back up all the time and store it on your own hard drive, cloud, or somewhere besides the server.  SHIT is going  to hit the fan someday.  With static websites, all you have to do it put the whole website on a usb stick and just upload it to a basic web server, not a big deal.  When you get into CMS and dynamic websites, you are dealing with a lot more than just a single html file.

You have to make sure you have the correct version or recent update of the database, programming language, server and network. Let’s say you do everything correctly and clone over the entire graphical user interface like plesk or cpanel to control your hosting software and it still doesn’t work. You have to make sure that the server is configured or updated to the newest version.  I was given access to servers that still use php4 or have default settings to install WordPress versions from 2.5. What the fuck is wrong with you people? that’s a good album by the way.  It’s not you, it’s a shitty and outdated server. It’s like a key and lock, it’s no good if you buy a brand new lock without key or vice versa.

truck-last-forever

So after everything looks good, and all the hard work is done, save it or make a back up.  So a few years later you or your client wants to copy the site to another server, you can use apps or migration software that will transfer everything over.  You upload the correct SQL to the database, media files and images to the right folder, and align the xml or json data so all the text is formatted/dated with all the content and pages.   What happens if the shit doesn’t work, expect to configure the entire site over again because the theme doesn’t allow it or is wonky.  This is what happens when you rely on a third party theme. It’s like a car, unless you built it your self, anything can go wrong and you have to fix it.  Of course some themes can last 10 years and some only last a few weeks.   There’s a lot more parts involved in a CMS, plug ins, apps, SEO, and everything else that makes it powerful.  It really depends on the entire project.

My analogy is just an opinion but static websites are like two wheel vehicles.  You can have a bicycle or a high powered motorcycle can go at least 190mph (Hayabusa).  Dynamic websites are like 4 wheel vehicles that can range from the cheapest used car that breaks down every week to a Ferrari or luxury mobile home with a jacuzzi.  When you choose a CMS, learn it, love it, and know that the worst case scenario is possible.  Why do people love cars that are high maintenance or complicated cms systems in this case?  Have you ever driven a Porsche? It’s amazing, have you ever logged in to a dynamic website? Yes, you can login, update your information, upload photos and feel like you’ve accomplished something with a few clicks.   Try that with a static site, not a with few clicks.   On the other hand, a bicycle is simple: you don’t need to add gas or change the oil but your average speed is about 25mph a day.  Start slow, and build your way up.

 

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