Serving Static Files in Django

Static files, such as CSS, JavaScript, and images, play a crucial role in the development of any modern web application. Django, a high-level Python web framework, provides a convenient way to serve static files seamlessly. In this article, we will explore the best practices for serving static files in a Django project.

Understanding Static Files

Before we dive into serving static files in Django, let's grasp the concept of static files. In web development, static files are the files that don't change dynamically based on user interactions. CSS files define the look and feel of web pages, JavaScript files provide interactivity, and images enhance the user experience. These files are considered static because they remain fixed unless deliberately modified.

The Static Files App

Django integrates a built-in app called the static files app to handle the serving of static files. This app not only manages the collection of static files but also provides features like automatic cache control and versioning mechanisms.

To enable the static files app in your Django project, ensure that the following line is included in your project's file:


Make sure the 'django.contrib.staticfiles' app is present in the INSTALLED_APPS list.

Configuring Static Files

Once the static files app is enabled, the next step is to configure the settings related to static files. Django provides several settings that allow fine-grained control over how the static files are handled.

The STATIC_URL setting

The STATIC_URL setting determines the URL at which the static files will be served. By default, Django sets STATIC_URL = '/static/', which means that static files will be available under the /static/ URL of your web application.

However, you can modify this setting to fit your project requirements. For instance, if you want your static files to be served at the root of your domain, you can set STATIC_URL = '/'.


By default, Django looks for static files within each installed app's static/ subdirectory. However, sometimes you might have static files that do not belong to any app. In such cases, you can use the STATICFILES_DIRS setting to specify additional directories from which Django should collect static files.

For example, if you have a directory named static_files at the project's root level, you can add it to the STATICFILES_DIRS setting as follows:

    BASE_DIR / 'static_files',

Make sure to import BASE_DIR from the file.

Collecting Static Files

Before static files can be served, they need to be collected. This process involves gathering static files from different locations and placing them in a single directory. The collected files are then served by the static files app according to the STATIC_URL setting.

To collect static files, run the following command:

python collectstatic

This command collects static files from all the locations specified in STATICFILES_DIRS and the static/ subdirectory of each app. The collected files are placed by default in a directory named static at the project's root level. However, you can customize the target directory with the STATIC_ROOT setting.

Serving Static Files during Development

During development, Django can serve static files in a straightforward manner. Make sure the DEBUG setting in is set to True. By doing so, Django's development server automatically handles the serving of static files.

To include static files in your templates, use the {% load static %} template tag at the beginning of each template that requires static files. Then, you can refer to static files using the static template tag like this:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="{% static 'css/styles.css' %}">
<script src="{% static 'js/script.js' %}"></script>

The static template tag generates the correct URL based on the STATIC_URL setting.

Serving Static Files during Production

In a production environment, it is recommended to serve static files using a dedicated web server or a content delivery network (CDN) to optimize performance. Django is not designed to handle the serving of static files efficiently in such scenarios.

To serve static files using a separate web server, collect the static files using the collectstatic command as explained earlier. Then, configure the web server to serve the collected files from the STATIC_ROOT directory.

For example, if you're using Nginx as your web server, you can configure it to serve static files by adding the following configuration within the server block:

location /static/ {
    alias /path/to/your/static/files/;

Replace /path/to/your/static/files/ with the actual path to the collected static files.


Serving static files is an essential part of Django web development. By following the best practices outlined in this article, you can ensure that your static files are efficiently served, both during development and in a production environment. Django's static files app, combined with proper configuration and the use of a dedicated web server, enables you to deliver an exceptional user experience by seamlessly handling static assets.

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