What is Dynamic Website Content and what can I do with it?
Dynamic content differs from static content in relation to website design.
Static content is information, copy, text, images etc that have been placed onto that page when it was being built. To change that copy / text / image we would need to go onto that page in the project file or online editor, make the changes, test and then publish the site to the web. This is how the majority of small - medium sized business websites are built.
Dynamic Content is much more exciting! Dynamic Content is populated onto a page framework which is pre-designed by a web designer that is sourced from an external source such as a spreadsheet, content management system (sometimes called a backend), or through an API link which, in layman's terms, is a piece of software which talks to an external database and pulls the required data from it to then populate on your website.
What's the Benefit of using Dynamic Content?
There are many benefits to using Dynamic Content. Here are some of the main ones;
- Ability for the client to add or remove content with ease. Simply archiving an entry will remove the relevant page or in the case of a directory listing, the listing immediately. To add content, the client simply creates a new entry with the required information filled out to create a new page, directory listing or really any other content which can be pre-formatted/designed by the web designer.
- Speed - adding an entry takes around the same amount of time to create a social media post (dependant on the entry of course). To add a new directory listing as an example would take no more than 5 minutes and it would be live on the site.
- Google search favours websites which have regular content updates. Static sites are falling out of favour, not because Google can tell which sites are static or dynamic, but because as much as we all expect to make regular updates, the complexity to make a change normally means that the web designer has to be booked and then turnaround time normally carries a week or two to get the update made.
What are the downsides to using Dynamic Content?
- In order for data to be used to populate a page with dynamic content, the page framework needs to be designed and setup by a web designer. The web designer will create it in a format which is robust enough to pull the required data from a database so the site won't break or have things running into each other. This is more costly to create than a static page, as essentially it takes the same time to build one dynamic page framework as what it would take to design a handful of static pages. The web designer will use rules within the database fields to be later filled out by the client, which may include minimum and maximum word limits, pre-determined date formats, heading sizing and hierarchy, images, galleries, video links, button links, colour and really anything else you can normally do when designing a static page. On the plus side, the client could then theoretically create hundreds of pages using that same framework designed by the web designer.
- It isn't overly flexible - a good web designer can take information and then customise a static page to make it all fit. If you want a portrait image used on a page instead of a landscape, they simply change the position, margins etc to make it work. A dynamic page may not have as much flexibility as changing it will also change the way every page which uses that data in that way. You can't change the page design from the content you provide in simple terms.
- Different page types require differently designed framework - Dynamic content is amazing if you have many pages which use the same framework as each other. If you need it for 1 page only, it's better to just use a static page. If you need 500 pages (eg articles, projects, real estate listings, car listings, directories etc) then a dynamic page comes into its own as you won't need to configure each one with its own menu item and individual SEO settings as these can be produced using pre-determined rules setup by the designer. So what happens if you want for example an events page and a separate Articles page? It would be better to create a different page framework for each. That way each can be configured with different input fields. In the case of a real estate site, some of these would be; bedroom number, car spaces, price, listing reference, listing agent, agents phone number, location, floor area etc etc.
In summary the only real downsides to using dynamic content is that it uses a rigid design meaning all the pages will have the same layout and the upfront cost to have built will be greater.
More reading on Dynamic Website Content
If you are interested in learning more about Dynamic Website Content including how it could be used on your website, read Part 2 of our series on Dynamic Content HERE.