What is Dynamic Content?

When you visit a website, your browser sends a request to the Web server for the content of each page you view. The Web server responds with the page requested and your browser renders it for you to see and interact with. However, what happens between your browser requesting the page and receiving it determines whether the page is dynamic or not.

Dynamic content

Dynamic content is website content that is delivered in a particular way. In this article we will explain what dynamic content is, how it is achieved and its relative advantages/ disadvantages.


In most dynamic websites, the content is modelled within a database system. The data comprising the website content in such cases can involve numbers, text and references to media items stored on the Web server. Many businesses use a single database to store their data, which may include retail items, client details and other commercial records. In this case, a company can create more than one system to access and interact with this data.

For Example

A company could use a desktop program for their employees, which uses the same database as the website for customer use. Internet newspapers and magazines also store their data in databases, in many cases utilizing Content Management Systems (CMSs) to build their sites on top of a data store.


With dynamic content, the function of a website involves programming scripts. When the server receives a request from the user's browser for a page on the site, it executes a server side script in a language such as PHP, ASP or Java. This script may do a number of things, but will typically query the database for the page content, then build the resulting data into a page using HTML markup. Finally, the server sends the newly constructed page to the browser that issued the request, also known as the client.

Although dynamic development is a common approach to Web building now, this was not always the case. Before dynamic technologies became so prevalent, static websites were the norm. In a static site, the pages are already built and are stored on the Web server waiting to be sent to the user for viewing.

From the end-user's point of view the process is irrelevant, all they see is the Web page. However, what has happened to deliver the page a user sees is fundamentally different for dynamic content. Essentially, dynamic content is content that is constructed when the client requests it, rather than already being structured as with the static model.

Client Side

Web development is often broadly thought of as comprising two distinct parts, client side and server side. Server side development involves the scripts and databases that execute on the server. Client side development is for those technologies that run within the user's Web browser, including HTML, JavaScript and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets).

Although primarily a matter for server side development, dynamic content can be prompted at client side as well. For example, with JavaScript techniques and tools such as AJAX and jQuery, the user interacting with a page can cause a server side script to execute, returning dynamic content from the server to write into the existing page. With the emerging HTML5 utilities the possibilities are becoming even more dynamic again. For example, with Server Side Events, the server can push dynamic content to the browser without the client side code having to request it.

Advantages to Dynamic Content

Dynamic content offers a number of generic advantages over static content, hence its enormous growth as the Web has evolved. Dynamic sites offer a potentially distinct user experience with each visit, since the page content is fetched anew every time a browser requests it. With a dynamic site, the content, or data, is all stored at a single location. This brings the "single point of change" advantage, meaning that data updates only need to happen in one place, with the entire site fetching the data from the same location, i.e. the database. When combined with interactive technologies at client side, dynamic content can also create sites that are more engaging than their static counterparts.

Disadvantages to Dynamic Content

There is really only one disadvantage to dynamic content, and that relates to the technologies required to deliver it. While most people can pick up basic skills for static development, for dynamic development you really need programming skills. This often means that companies need to hire services from professional developers rather than carrying out the work in-house. The requirement for this expertise also includes maintaining sites in the long run.


You will see dynamic content on almost any website you visit, although you may not be aware of it. Dynamic content is the rule now rather than the exception, and is an essential feature of most successful website projects. By utilizing dynamic technologies in association with additional tools such as CMS programs, individuals and organizations can create an efficient, appealing Web presence.

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