Are you a dynamic kind of guy?

 

I have found that there is an increasing fashion in web design - among clients - to seek dynamic solutions to their web design needs.

What does all this mean?

Recently I had the following conversation with a client:

"I want a dynamic site because they are better."

"Oh," said I, "Why do you find them better?"

"I don't know. I was just told that they were."

I would argue most people have a simple emotional response to the terms "dynamic" and "static" that is a basis for this "better".

Dynamic is a synonym for lively, go-ahead, active and vibrant. Static sounds pedestrian, stale and even stagnant.

With this in mind, the terms I personally use are the less emotive "Content management site" alias dynamic and "HTML site" otherwise not entirely accurately described as static.
This article is an approach to demonstrating when dynamic is in truth better - and when it is not.

Dynamic websites are a powerful tool in the hands of the experienced web site developer and the computer literate customer/user.
They allow the owner to modify and update the site's content without using any third parties such as the webmaster provided they have the ability to utilize the system.

(As a general rule, I suggest that if you can use Microsoft "Word" effectively, you should be OK. The computer phobic regrettably need not apply!)

If you plan on frequent updates, this is in truth clearly better.

 

 

Content management - (CMS) poses certain specific challenges, though.
 
To quote the notoriously enigmatic Google
"If your company buys a content management system, make sure that the system can export your content so that search engine spiders can crawl your site."

Here is Google saying it cannot index dynamic content unless it is exported - presumably to some non-dynamic format.
Previously Google stated that it indexed dynamic content "more slowly", but lately this negative attitude appears to have hardened.
HTML is not treated in this harsh fashion and can be crawled (read by the search engine) without additional issues.

Another point from the big G;

"Don't use "&id=" as a parameter in your URLs, as we don't include these pages in our index."

Again this is a dynamic phenomenon; here is an example of a page address from a dynamic site chosen at random http://www.nameremovedbyme.com/article.php?id=23 The bottom line for all this is that for the freedom to modify your own page you may have to pay a price in search engine compatibility.
If search engine success - that most fickle of all goals on-line - is a mission critical consideration, then consider very seriously where your design priorities lie.

 

An option you can consider is a hybrid site - hopefully the best of both worlds.

Non changing areas of the site stay in HTML; most likely your address, product descriptions, mission statement and company history are not altered on a monthly basis.
Why do you need these items dynamic, then? Leave them open to easy spidering and help your search engine performance on that basis.

Your photo gallery, blog, message from the Managing Director and "this week's specials" are indeed liable to modifications so leave these dynamic and play with them at will.

As always in web design, or design in general, keep informed, look at function over fashion and consider your options carefully.

 

To me, that is how your dynamism will be best demonstrated on-line.

 

Since I wrote this article (back when the Earth was still cooling) one or two phenomena had still to appear - one I had imagined and the other was a surprise.   The advent of HTML/CMS systems was a happy surprise that I am currently exploiting and offers the very best of both worlds as I suppose the ultimate "hybrid option".

The second was the massive upsurge in dynamic sites from webmasters who wanted a template driven "sling it up in a day" design option that they could sell at serious profit to the web-gullible who cannot believe that the guy in the trendy office is selling them a $75 template and a few hours of his work for €2,000.

This ought to be criminal - but since "There's a sucker born every minute" remains as true today as it ever was, I suggest the following.

Be specific with your design demands and whilst you should listen to reason there is no reason for you to be dictated to as to what is and is not good.  If the webmaster cannot modify (allegedly) his own site for you - how well will he fare fixing it if something goes wrong?  Assess how much control the webmaster has over the product he is selling by requiring a few changes here and there, and if the answer is "little or none" then send him on his/her way.

Another alternative is to ask to see other sites that they have done.  Is the phrase "boringly samey" seems to apply then now you know why.  Some similarity should be acknowledged as characteristic of an off the peg solution.  Make sure the sites really belong to said designer by revisiting from your browser history and looking for links to the design company or else note the features you like and add them to the design brief at the planning stage.

He who pays the piper calls the tune - and in this case that means you.