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Sophia Meral Chapar is special projects manager at Solia Media - top web developer in GeorgiaWhy You Need a Dynamic Website – by Sophia Chapar, Solia Special Projects

Background: Static Sites

In the early days of the Internet, people created web pages by using a language known as “Hypertext markup language” or HTML.

A developer would type up content in HTML, and a browser, installed on the visitor’s computer, would access that content and display it as the HTML directed. The web page was a static thing, like a painting. The content was fixed, and the formating controlled by the HTML.

So, an early website might display, “Welcome to Bob’s Hardware” by virtue of a developer typing those precise words and placing HTML instructions at the beginning and end of that phrase to cause the browser to display that as bold.

Dynamic Website and Server-Side Processing

The type of websites Solia designs work as follows.  There are almost no true static pages.

Rather a modern website include more “dynamic” functions. Basically that means the website does a lot more than display content.  It performs many functions that alter the appearance of the site to respond to what the viewer is doing and what the viewer requests.

So instead of the programmer typing “Welcome to Bob’s Hardware”, the programmer will create code that says display a welcome message with the name of the website, and if it’s in a title, please bold it. If the website name is changed, the title will automatically update.

Most people use dynamic CMS’s daily. If a visitor to CNN’s website asks to see a list of content concerning France that was published in 2007, the PHP on the website’s server executes that request, then retrieves the result from a database on the server and displays it to the visitor. Basically, the site changes depending upon the instructions given to it. The code looks to the database, finds the content that meets the criteria given by the visitor, and displays it on a page generated by the CMS itself.

While it would have been possible to create a static HTML page with a list of certain articles concerning France created in 2007 and linking to them, and create another page for 2008 articles, etc., that would be prohibitive from a time and complexity standpoint. The designer or site owner would have to create an infinite number of static pages for every country, every year and so on.

A current website creates and displays content as it is instructed, using the server’s CPU and then sends the result to the visitor.

How is that done? Dynamic sites are built on a software core that uses languages that actually execute code. JavaScript, PHP and Perl are three of the most commonly-used programming languages on the Internet. They are used by websites to carry out more complicated operations.

Programs written in JavaScript run in the web browser itself, so if your website has a JavaScript program, the program will be automatically fetched by your visitor’s browser and executed on his/her computer. PHP and Perl programs, on the other hand, run on the computer where your website is located, that is, on your web host’s computer. After the PHP or Perl program does what it needs to do, it sends the result to the visitor’s web browser, which merely displays the results.

Otherwise, from the point of view of a layperson, there is little difference between the languages such as PHP and Perl. The differences are like the differences between French, English, Chinese or some other human language. Each computer language has its own strengths and weaknesses and that’s why we include many of them in our designs.

Advantages of a Content Management Site

We at Solia develop Content Management Sites that are powerful and dynamic. The functions which those sites can perform are many and valuable.

As an example, for some organizations we provide a membership facility where people can log into the site, and access certain information. We build sites that can transmit and process invoices.

All of our sites provide a feedback form so that visitors can contact them. Our sites allow for visitors to subscribe to newsletters. The site actually transmits newsletters and maintains a record of visitor interaction with those mailings. Our web commerce sites allow visitors to browse products, filter them, and buy them. The site does many other things like calculates sale tax based upon the buyer’s address, and keeps a record for the customer which allows the customer to review his or her history.

A huge benefit is that the client can create content easily, and the content will be stored and displayed by the instructions previously coded into it by the developer (that’s us!). The client therefore does NOT need to know any code, or style the content every time new content is created. Our clients can manage of their content. Those that do not have the time can and often do hire us to manage that content, but many others handle almost all of the content creation and editing.

All these things are possible with dynamic content management type websites and a combination of HTML, PHP and other languages.

If you need to update your website, please contact us at Solia.