What’s So Good About Static Site Generators?

Security, Speed, and More.

Static that represents static site generation.
Static Site Generators are as cool as this picture looks. (Picture by Marius Masalar – Unsplash)

Quick Backstory

In the earliest days of the internet, all websites were “static”. At the time, this meant that instead of serving up dynamic content like most modern websites today, these sites served mostly text and images.

Then came WordPress and other content management systems for generating dynamic content. These websites made it much easier for business owners to build websites linking them with their customers. Contact forms, blogs, mass email campaigns. You name it, and WordPress was (and still is) able to pull it off.

WordPress and its siblings have done wonders for business owners over the past 15 – 20 years, but the tides are once again shifting. Static websites are cool again and for some important reasons.

Modern Static Websites

Unlike those ugly websites from the 90s, modern static sites have a lot going for them. They are fast, secure, flexible, easy to work with, and cheap or free to host on modern platforms like Netlify.

The big thing here is that they are much, much more secure than traditional dynamic solutions. What’s more, they can enjoy most of the benefits of dynamic sites by leveraging the power of modern tools.

In fact, modern tools have come such a long way that we can leverage WordPress to generate static websites at will. We’re living in a time that business owners can enjoy the best of dynamic and static sites under the same digital roof.

Enter Static Site Generators

The “modern tools” I’ve been speaking so highly of are known as Static Site Generators. These systems give us the power to “take a snapshot” of dynamic content from WordPress or some other such CMS, and serve that snapshot as static content. Performing an action like publishing a blog post, updating some text on your website, or adding some new pictures will cause your website to refresh the snapshot.

Exactly Why Is This So Good?

It’s simple. Dynamic content is susceptible to all kinds of security risks. Because WordPress has been popular for so long, many bad people have become skilled at getting into WordPress databases and wreaking havoc. Static Site Generators allow us to use databases and other tools associated with dynamic content, but they “shut the door” that makes dynamic content susceptible.

As an added measure of security, Static Site Generators are “decoupled” from the servers and databases they rely on. This makes it much more difficult for the bad guys to find a crack in your website’s armor and get through your defenses.

What Else is Good About Static Sites?

Aside from beefed up security, the next biggest advantage of Static Site Generators is their speed. My weapon of choice in the SSG Arena is Gatsbyjs, a new-ish framework that incorporates many of my favorite development tools. This framework is second to none in a discussion of load speed. This is because, after it transforms your dynamic content into a static site, it “preloads” the content for your users. This means that it starts rendering content on the server “even before your users have begun accessing it”. Gatsby sites are so fast that it often feels like the content loads before my finger is up from clicking.

Should You Ditch WordPress?

In a word, no.

If configured well, WordPress can be robust, secure, and fast. As a content management system and portal into the world of Static Site Generators, WordPress is also going to remain a key player. Remember that, at the time of this writing, WordPress is one of the premier tools to interface with Static Site Generators in a powerful way.

The part of WordPress that has always been great is how it can help your business reach its online goals. With Static Site Generators, that story remains the same, but with a few new superpowers. Building a website with this combo may be a great choice for your business.

Thanks for reading.

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