1. What is a static site?
  2. What kind of site can be created with a static website?
  3. What are the differences and benefits between a dynamic and a static website?
  4. What is a static CMS?
  5. What are the differences between a Static Site Generator and Static Site CMS?
  6. Privacy-focused website - what does it mean?
  7. Is a static CMS a good choice if you want a privacy-oriented website?
  8. What does "serverless" mean?
  9. What is Headless technology?

What is a static site?

A static website is a type of website that has pages with fixed content; that is, text, pictures, and other elements created from pre-made files that are then uploaded to a server, ready to be sent to a visitor's browser so that they can view the page. Since such pages are created before being uploaded, the site content won't change or update without the creator manually making the changes in the file or uploading a new file. Contrast this with a dynamic website, which generates content on the fly for each visitor based on various settings. Usually, a database will be stored on the server, which contains the information for each page, such as text, pictures, and styling, and a backend program running on the server will dynamically generate a page from these elements to provide to a site visitor. In contrast, static websites are typically written in HTML and CSS and are designed to deliver the same content to every user who accesses the site; when a visitor accesses a static site, the server simply provides the files it has stored for that particular address so that the browser can display it, without generating any additional content.

In practice, this means that static websites are usually much faster and more lightweight than their dynamic counterparts. Since the site files are pre-made, the server only needs to provide these files to the visitor's browser without performing any complex operations to select and generate the page content. And without any complicated back-end infrastructure to manage and maintain, static websites are particularly well-suited to small business websites, portfolios, personal blogs, or other sites that don't need to be updated constantly. 

Another benefit of static websites is that they are very secure. Because the content is pre-written, there is no risk of a user being able to inject malicious code into the website; dynamic websites need robust security solutions and frequent maintenance to ensure that they protect themselves from hacking attempts. Static sites, meanwhile, need only to restrict access to the server backend, and make sure that they upload modified files through safe, well-protected methods, to fully protect their site integrity; no day-to-day maintenance is required. This makes static websites a good choice for businesses that need to protect sensitive data, such as financial institutions or e-commerce sites, or any site that puts a high value on the data they store.

In summary, static websites are simple, fast, and secure. They are a good choice for people who want to create a fast-loading website without needing to have advanced technical skills.

What kind of site can be created with a static website?

Static websites are well-suited for websites that don't require constant monitoring and updates and don't need to run more complex operations such as on-site payment processing or in-depth data collection and storage. As such, sites that are content or information-focused, rather than providing a live service, are served perfectly through a static model. Some specific examples of static websites might include a personal blog, an art or design portfolio,  a small business website, or a news or magazine website.

Static sites perform particularly well when pricing and speed are a factor; they are easy to build with Publii, so novice users won't need to worry about learning about complex web-development or rely on hiring designers and developers to help with every aspect of the site's design and functionality, though the Publii team is able to provide professional services where desired. Static sites also don't have a high server requirement to provide an efficient user experience, allowing users with a limited budget to still create an attractive yet fast, website.

Ultimately, the best examples of static sites will depend on the specific needs and goals of the business or individual using the site. They can be used in a wide variety of industries and contexts, and the best examples will be those that effectively meet the needs of the user. Though the static nature of such sites may seem limiting, the showcase section of the Publii site highlights some particularly beautifully designed static websites that don't compromise in style, elegance, or functionality.

What are the differences and benefits between a dynamic and a static website?

The main difference between dynamic and static websites is the way in which they generate and serve content to users. In a way, a website is like a cake shop. Customers come to the shop, and the baker can decide to bake a cake specifically each time a customer comes in, with subtle variations depending on the visitor's preference, while another baker might bake all the cakes in advance to a specific recipe that will be the same for every customer. The customers of the first baker get to enjoy a tailored experience, but they'll have to wait longer to get their cake! Customers of the second baker can get a consistent product the moment they arrive; it's not unique to the customer in any definitive way, but still a lovely cake! 

Of course, this analogy only really scratches the surface of the differences, but it does highlight a lot of similarities. Like the first baker baking a new cake for every customer, a dynamic website stores data types on a database on its server, and pulls the parts of the data it needs to generate pages on the fly for each visitor that comes to it. For example, let's say that a site visitor opens a dynamic page. The visitor's browser will send a request to the server for the files that make up the page so that it can display them; the CMS (Content Management System), a type of program running on the server, will evaluate the request, and pull the specific content (HTML text, CSS rules, images, etc...) from its database, and generate the files needed to display the page. It then sends these files to the browser.

Because a dynamic site generates the files for the page each time a request is sent, the specific elements of the page can be changed in both minor and major ways depending on a number of factors. For example, a business website might include a helpdesk live chat box that is only displayed during office opening hours or may dynamically switch the type of content depending on the country that the website visitor is accessing the site from. 

Conversely, static sites work like the second baker; they deliver pre-baked, consistent, and unchanging content to users, though there is some leeway that allows the content to be displayed in a different way for different users, such as displaying content in a more convenient layout for mobile phone screen sizes versus desktop screens, the possible amount of factors it can respond to is much more limited; the base content of the page will be the same for all visitors.

So, one of the main benefits of dynamic websites is that they can provide a more personalized and interactive experience for users. The ability to modify content depending on multiple factors means it can be tailored to the specific needs and preferences of each individual user, and provide feedback and interactive elements to the site. This can be useful for e-commerce sites, social media platforms, and other applications that require a high degree of interactivity and personalization.

Dynamic sites, however, do have negative factors. Since website pages files are generated on request from a browser, they have higher server requirements. Servers must support database software such as SQL, and a CMS (Content Management System) must be included to manage the content and distribution (unless you have the technical know-how to build this code yourself). Dynamic sites generate more content, needing higher server bandwidth and storage. The dynamic nature of the site means that there are more opportunities for hackers to inject code and gain access to the server or site-visitors' system or files, requiring frequent monitoring to ensure that robust protections are in-place and kept up-to-date. 

In contrast to this, while static websites cannot deliver the same amount of interactivity and personalization that a dynamic website can, it offers a number of benefits of its own. Most notably, the main benefit of static websites is their simplicity and performance. As static sites deliver pages with only minimal modifications on a per-user basis, it doesn't need to use any backend software to generate its pages; all of the files are pre-generated and simply delivered directly from the server to the browser when requested. This means that static websites are usually much faster and more lightweight than their dynamic counterparts, which can be useful for businesses and individuals who need a simple, straightforward website that can be set up quickly and easily, without breaking the bank with server bandwidth and storage requirements. Static websites are also very secure, which makes them a good choice for businesses that need to protect sensitive data; since the content is pre-baked, the website severely reduces the possible means of attack for hackers to gain access to the server or site.

In summary, dynamic websites generate site content on the fly, allowing for a more personalized site experience and increased interactivity, but require a larger investment of bandwidth, storage, people, software, and time to be effective and safe. Static websites use fixed content, which reduces personalization and interactivity, but drastically reduces the maintenance, cost, and security risk of the site. 

What is a static CMS?

A Content Management System, or CMS for short, is a piece of software that is installed on a server to manage a dynamic website. This software handles the storage of content and generation of webpages for visitors, and often provides additional features that allows users to add features or content directly on to the website server; popular CMSs include Joomla! and WordPress, which aim to simplify the process of creating web content by allowing users to manage their site by logging-in to the CMS on the server via a web browser.

A static CMS performs many of the same functions as a regular CMS with regards to generating webpages for site visitors to view, but since static websites don't create webpages dynamically, they don't require the CMS to be run on the server. Instead, the CMS can be run on a local computer, which then generates the website content to be uploaded to a server. This dramatically reduces server requirements, and as the sites they create are themselves static, static CMSs are typically much simpler and more lightweight than their dynamic counterparts.

Static websites are more feature-limited by nature compared to dynamic sites, but static CMSs are able to implement many of the features that dynamic CMSs offer, with some unique benefits specific to the static CMS. For example, as with dynamic site CMSs, static CMSs can create, manage and organize large amounts of content, including basic text pages to media-heavy articles with text editors, spellcheckers, word counters, and other quality-of-life features for content creation. They can also support templates to switch up the look and feel of a site with only a few clicks and implement additional features, including SEO, comments, searches, and analytics.

Try Publii, the most intuitive and user-friendly static CMS.

What are the differences between a Static Site Generator and Static Site CMS?

A static site generator is a type of software that is used to create static websites or convert existing site content into a static version of the site. It works by allowing users to write content in a specific format, such as Markdown or HTML, and then using templates and other tools to generate the final static website. Like with a static CMS, this means that users can create and manage their websites without needing to write any complex code or build a complex back-end infrastructure. However, static site generators require at least some knowledge of web development and coding, as their functionality is focused on converting created content into a viable static site.

A static site CMS, on the other hand, is a type of content management system that is specifically designed to manage the content of static websites. Like a static site generator, a static site CMS allows users to create and manage their website simply, without any need for pre-existing coding knowledge. However, a static site CMS typically provides additional features and functionality, such as the ability to manage multiple users, create custom templates, and integrate with other systems and tools. It may include content editors to make it easier to build webpages for beginner users, or include dynamic options to customize the user experience to improve workflow. 

In general, both static site generators and static site CMSs are useful tools for creating and managing static websites. For users with a working knowledge of website coding, static site generators can be a quick and easy solution to converting site content to a static model, with little fluff or additional steps. However, if the user requires an expanded feature set, or has little-to-no knowledge of web development and would prefer a more structured, straightforward platform to help them build their site, a static site CMS would be the best option.

Privacy-focused website - what does it mean?

A privacy-focused website is a type of website that is designed to protect the privacy of its visitors. Many local laws around the world place a specific focus on the protection of user data, preventing the collection of identifying data or placing heavy requirements on the storage and use of such data; the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, for example. A website that is privacy-focused seeks to, at a minimum, follows these guidelines exactly but often will take further steps to ensure that user data and consent are more than adequately protected. 

The scale and strength of the actions a privacy-focused website can take depend on the kind of features that the site offers, and the type of data that it needs to collect. Common measures include encrypting user data, using secure connections or implementing strict policies for collecting and using user data. Sites that handle payments such as sales or subscriptions must have robust data-handling policies to guarantee safety for their site visitors' data, while smaller, article-based sites may only need to include options for users to consent to data collection for analytics.

With data being a hot topic in the modern internet age, where high-profile hacks and data-breaches make headlines every few months, a privacy-friendly website is important as it reassures visitors that may well be fearful of having their private information shared or traded online without consent. 

In order to be considered privacy-focused, a website should implement a number of best practices to protect user privacy. Clear and robust policies for data handling that are strictly followed, encrypting user data and utilizing secure connections to limit hacking attempts are standard procedure for any such site. In addition, care must be taken to keep users in the loop, with full transparency of how user data is collected, stored, and used, the reasons for doing so, and giving complete control of a visitors data to the visitor themself, including the option to consent or not to data collection of varying degrees, and the ability to rescind consent or request the deletion of any collected data as needed. 

Is a static CMS a good choice if you want a privacy-oriented website?

A static CMS offers many benefits that can make it an effective choice if privacy is a core value of your site.  Because static CMSs produce pre-generated content that is the same for all users, with no on-the-fly site generation, the webpages themselves are simple in functionality and don't need to have a large amount of visitor data on hand to function properly. User data is often not needed at all, and the simplified scope of a static site makes it easier to note and manage situations where some data collection is required, such as with analytics, and provide appropriate features to guarantee that any such collection is done with the visitor's full knowledge and consent. 

For websites that are required to follow stricter protocols on data collection due to privacy regulations, such as those that function within the EU and must operate in accordance with the  General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), static sites can be a boon as they rarely require users to enter any personal information at all, or to log-in to access features. This presents fewer opportunities for people to gain access to user data. In addition, any data collected will be through third-party solutions such as analytics, who will hold the responsibility for storing the data effectively; the static site owner would need only to ensure that their site visitors are properly informed and their consent sought before any data collection occurred; a much simpler prospect that managing reams of collected data on a local server. 

Generally-speaking, if privacy is an important goal for your site, then a static CMS can be a simple solution to provide high-level protection to your visitors, without compromising on the look and feel of your site. However, it is important that, before committing to using a specific static CMS, that you carefully evaluate the security and privacy features it offers as, much as with dynamic CMSs, their included feature set may differ greatly. 

What does "serverless" mean?

Serverless is a term used to describe a type of cloud computing architecture in which the cloud provider manages the infrastructure and automatically allocates resources as needed to run the user's code. In layman's terms, rather than the website code being stored on its own independent server that must 'on' and ready to go even when no visitors are on the site, the website code is instead stored on a 'cloud', or group of servers, and the code is only activated when a visitor wants to visit the site. In this model, the user only pays for the specific resources that their code uses, such as storage and compute power, rather than paying for a fixed amount of resources upfront.

Basically, in a cloud-computing model, instead of paying to rent an entire server to keep your website on, you can instead store it in the cloud, and only pay for the times that visitors actually came to the site. This can be effective in reducing the costs for smaller sites which don't need the larger resources that an independent server offers in order to serve their site visitors.   

Serverless architectures are also helpful in situations that have variable or unpredictable workloads, such as websites that experience sudden spikes in traffic or web services that are only used occasionally. A site about Christmas decorations may receive few visits during the early part of the year, but as the festive season approaches it may experience massive spikes in users, hitting a plateau once December rolls around. In a cloud architecture, the amount of resources that the site can utilize to deliver content to its visitors will automatically scale, whereas if the site was on its own server it would need to be more directly managed to ensure that the resources available to the server were not outstripped by the demand. Cloud, or serverless, websites are thus an effective solution when a site owner doesn't want to spend a lot of time monitoring and managing their server infrastructure, or making predictions about demand to make sure the server is ready for any visitor spikes. 

Serverless architectures are currently used for a variety of applications, including web and mobile applications, microservices, and data processing pipelines. In fact, if you're a frequent computer or phone user, the chances are that you are interacting with a cloud-based system almost every day, without realizing it! 

What is Headless technology?

Headless technology is a term used to describe a type of software architecture in which the front-end and back-end components of an application operate separately, or 'decoupled'. Essentially, this means that rather than the front-end and back-end of an application or website working in unison to complete a task, the front-end will simply hand everything over to the back-end, or vice-versa. A simple example would be purchasing something online; clicking on the 'buy' button might cause the front-end to request some details, which would then be handed over to the back-end to complete the payment. In a headless architecture, the same process would be handed over entirely to the back-end; clicking the 'buy' button would make the front-end give a call to the back-end and say 'this person wants to buy something', and the back-end would take over from there. In this way, the two parts of the system interact, but don't need to cooperate to the same extent as a system that isn't headless.

This might seem trivial to a layperson, but for developers this approach can lead to greater flexibility and scalability. Each 'end' of the system can be developed independently, without the concern that some interaction might be broken, or new bugs introduced. This also makes it possible to use different technologies and frameworks for the front-end and back-end, which can be useful for organizations that have different teams working on different parts of the application.

This method of operating a site may provide a significant benefit to static websites, which can expand their feature set to match those offered by dynamic sites without compromising on the speed or ease of use that static sites bring to the table. The limiting nature of a static website prevents true interaction with site visitors beyond providing the webpages for viewing. However, in a headless system, a static site can offer more complicated functionality such as ecommerce by simply calling a backend system when a visitor wishes to make a purchase or view a product. It may also be used to introduce an additional layer of customization and personalization to a static site, something which they have traditionally struggled to provide. 

Headless technology is already commonly used in web and mobile applications, where users expect rich, interactive experiences but also demand exceptional speed and performance, with the ability to scale with demand. It is also used in many standard content management systems, but the reach of this particular design philosophy is likely to continue to grow as the world moves towards a cloud-based future.