The Trend Toward Static Websites
In this BLOG post, we are going to explore a growing trend that is changing the way that Small to Medium Businesses (SMB’s) are publishing their company websites. I am referring to the trend of publishing a static site as opposed to one that is dynamic.
Many people would argue that publishing a static site is the equivalent of stepping backwards in time and giving up all of the advantages that a dynamic site offers. But what if there were a way to remove the disadvantages of a dynamic site while retaining the majority of the advantages?
Intrigued? Keep reading!
Today, I will be interviewing Miriam Schwab, the Founder and CEO of Strattic – a static publishing platform for WordPress. I will ask Miriam 8 questions and the answers will give us a better understanding of what static publishing is and why it is so important.
Hi Miriam! Obviously, there are a number of reasons that dynamic sites are so popular these days. Can you elaborate on these reasons?
Dynamic sites are popular because it means that you can easily support functionality for things like comments, contact forms, search and eCommerce, which need to communicate with a database.
Please describe the main problems that companies encounter when they have a dynamic website like WordPress.
WordPress is awesome – the flexibility, the community, the fact that it’s Open source…I could go on forever. But it does have some serious setbacks that can cause major headaches for website owners. The top three problems with WordPress are security, slow site speed, and scalability. As for security, a whopping 70% of websites have actively hackable vulnerabilities. As for site speed and scalability, many WordPress sites have slow page load speeds, and crash easily, which can negatively impact revenues, brand reputation and SEO.
How does having a static site overcome these problems?
Static sites completely remove the WordPress backend, and serve up a totally static version of your site which is going to load lightning fast because there’s no more server-side processing or database queries. Also, because your site is static, there are no vulnerabilities for people to exploit in your site itself. This makes it about as secure as possible. Aaaand.. if you use serverless architecture like on Strattic, your site will also benefit from infinite scalability (so go on and get those millions of visitors.).
For a “long” time (in internet time), WordPress couldn’t take advantage of the benefits of a static architecture since it outputs dynamic websites. Luckily, there are several ways to keep using WordPress and reap the rewards, Strattic being one of them. Or as we like to say, you can have your cake and eat it too 🙂
What about plugins? Will companies lose the functionality provided by the plethora of plugins available to WordPress sites?
Plugins that needs to communicate with the database won’t be supported when you generate a static version of your site. Luckily there are tons of alternatives that work on static sites: you can check out our static tools directory (which we update on an ongoing basis): https://www.strattic.com/static-tools to see lots of functionality that will work on a static site. Also, at Strattic, we are constantly expanding the list of plugins that we support.
There are some plugins available that allow you to export a static copy of your WordPress site. What is the difference between using a plugin as opposed to a dedicated static publishing platform?
We actually wrote up a post about 11 things to consider before using a WP static generator plugin (https://www.strattic.com/11-things-to-consider-wordpress-static-site-generator-plugin/)
If you use a WP static generator plugin, you’ll run up against a bunch of pretty big hurdles such as setting up your own CDN, configuring your own security settings, figuring out how to handle redirects properly, and long publishing (to your static site) times. However, if you use a static publishing platform like Strattic, the whole process will be much smoother since we handle the CDN, security, redirections, built-in search, and so much more.
There are some dynamic features that a website depends on and can not live without. A good example is contact forms. It is very important that a potential customer be able to make contact immediately and easily. How is this need addressed?
Dynamic features such as forms, search, and comments are important to many website owners. Luckily, there is a growing list of third-party tools and plugins that can seamlessly integrate into a static site. We’ve listed many of them on our static tools directory. For forms, there are lots of great third-party form solutions that work with static sites such as Formbackend, Wufoo, Typeform, etc. For search, there’s Algolia, Swiftype, and AddSearch that index your site and store the data on their servers. At Strattic, we offer built-in Algolia search integration. For comments, there’s Disqus or Facebook comments.
Many WordPress sites are e-commerce sites. Is it possible to have a static e-commerce site? If so, can you tell us more?
Yep, it’s possible to have a static site that integrates with certain types of third-party cart solutions, like Ecwid or Snipcart.
What do you see as the most important features/integrations to add to static publishing over the next year or two?
Wow, there’s so much opportunity in static publishing – it’s very exciting, and a bit overwhelming – especially in the area of eCommerce and support for Ajax and query parameters. Also, at Strattic we’re constantly working on optimizing and speeding up our static publication process. We want to bring it as much in line as possible with the native WordPress publishing experience – click and done 🙂