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Dynamic Content

Dynamic Content: Brief Summary

Dynamic content, also known as adaptive content, is a type of content which changes based on user signals. Examples of some of the user signals which may alter dynamic content include online behaviour, interests, preferences, timing and geographical location. As a result, two users visiting the same website, or using the same web service, may be presented with different content, albeit often contained within the same basic template.

Common examples of content that can be made dynamic include text, images, advertisements and video, and in some cases the dynamic content may include the layout itself, or elements of the layout, such as the colour scheme. The primary advantage of dynamic content over more traditional static content is the greater degree of personalisation it provides, with users being presented with content that is more relevant, or more specific to them.

Dynamic Content: Detailed Summary

Any web content that is individually adapted based on the specific user viewing it is categorised as dynamic content, or adaptive content. This includes content that adjusts automatically, based on user signals detected, as well as content that is under the control of a content management system, with adjustable preferences. By contrast, content which remains the same, regardless of who is viewing it, is categorised as static content.

In many cases, dynamic content requires the collection of user data through the use of cookies and other tracking methods. Additionally, some data may be obtained more directly, with the most obvious example being registration processes, which might ask users to provide crucial information that can inform dynamic content. While static content is often HTML-based, dynamic content is more likely to use PHP, ASP, JavaScript or ColdFusion.

The history of dynamic content can actually be traced back to the early 1990s, and creation of dynamic web pages has been possible since the launch of JavaScript in 1995. Nevertheless, static content was by far the dominant content type in the early internet years. However, with the rise of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as targeted advertising and intelligent recommendations on sites like Amazon, this has started to change.

Facebook is a particularly strong example of dynamic content, because the content that is displayed to each user is different, based on their friends list, ‘likes’, online activity and other user data obtained by the service.

Common examples of the type of user data which can alter dynamic or adaptive content include the user’s geographical location, browser history, past purchases and user-selected preferences. There may also be a distinction in the content they see, based on whether they are logged in to an account or are a guest visitor. Depending on the page in question, user signals may be provided manually, or detected automatically.

The extent of the dynamic content on a page can vary significantly. With sites like Facebook and Twitter, the primary content is dynamic and will change based on the user. Sites like YouTube and Amazon, meanwhile, use dynamic content to make recommendations of other videos to watch, or other products to look at, based on past behaviour. In other cases, the dynamic content may be more subtle, like a weather display changing based on physical location.

Dynamic content can take many forms, ranging from advertisements which are displayed to users based on their browsing habits, to product pages, where the specific products shown are based on past purchases. On a more basic level, content can be adapted so that it is optimised for the right device, meaning a mobile user may see a more stripped-back version, with larger text and fewer on-page elements than a desktop user.

Adaptive content can also be used to improve the quality of landing pages, making them more relevant to the user’s initial search query. So, for instance, the content of the landing page of a veterinary company with multiple practices may change depending on whether the user searched for “vets in London” or “vets in Manchester”. This can then help to improve conversion rates, by ensuring the page content is as relevant for individual users as possible.

Pros and Cons of Dynamic Content

For users, the main benefit of dynamic content is that they see content that is more relevant to them. This can help to make it more useful, more entertaining, more interesting and even more accurate, resulting in a superior user experience. It can also offer advantages in terms of pure functionality, such as when a mobile user is presented with more mobile-friendly content, or when intelligent suggestions or recommendations are made, based on past habits.

The benefits of this extend to the website owner or content creator as well. After all, more relevant content makes users more likely to perform the actions that the content is intended to encourage. For instance, dynamic content designed to show people products based on their past purchases can make additional purchases more likely, while landing pages designed to show relevant location-based information can make sign-ups more likely.

In terms of disadvantages when compared to static content, it can be more difficult to know precisely what content each user is seeing, and this may also make it more challenging to obtain accurate performance metrics. Dynamic content can also worry some users with regards to their privacy, due to the data collection element. For this reason, it is important for website owners to be transparent about their data policy and to avoid being overly intrusive.

Moreover, creating a website that makes effective use of dynamic content will usually require a greater degree of technical knowledge than creating a more conventional website, which relies on static content. Therefore, while dynamic content can provide excellent potential for website owners and content creators, the initial set-up process can be more time consuming and the specialist knowledge required may be a significant obstacle.

Conclusion

Dynamic content is content which is adapted, based on user signals, resulting in more personalised and relevant content being displayed. The user signals in question could be anything from location and the device being used, through to browser habits or selected preferences. Social networks are a good example of sites with a high amount of dynamic content, but dynamic content could be as simple as changing a single world, such as a country or city.

Content that can be made dynamic includes text, advertisements, videos and images. The increased relevancy is the main benefit, as it can make the content more immediately useful and, as a result, make conversions more likely. In addition, the greater degree of personalisation can help to improve the overall user experience. Yet, concerns about privacy and data harvesting mean it is important for websites to be transparent with their data policy.


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