As a web developer, it has been impossible not to notice all of the excitement on the internet around static site generators and JAMStack. Static Site Generators are used to create static sites, usually by leveraging a templating engine, which allows the developer to create site content quickly in formats like markdown. Some of the benefits of these types of websites in production are that they're incredibly fast, and can be served by CDN's instead of traditional servers, which means little to no hosting costs.
So to sum up, we can update the content faster; the site itself performs faster, and the costs are lower.
As a freelance web developer, most of my work revolves around WordPress websites. I'm not much of a fan of WordPress, but almost all small business clients I meet, want or have a WordPress website. When I ask them why they chose WordPress, the answers usually boil down to "I want to be able to update the website myself." Well, the reality is that out of the 40 clients I've worked with during the last couple of years, not a single one does their own updates.
And then I read this post.
OMG, he's right. Clients hardly care about how I make the website, they just come to me yelling "WORDPRESS" because they don't know of anything else. It's just a buzz word to them. Plus, he managed to drop Wordpress for static site generators on these simple sites. AMAZING!
What if I started making the sites with a static site generator? The updates would be faster. I wouldn't have to mess around with servers and hosting anymore. The site is static, so no more Wordpress updates, plugin updates, etc. I could keep things simple ... wait... NO MORE WORDPRESS PUGINS AND PHP?!?!? Sign me up.
So the concept is there - I should be able to create simple business and professional "brochure" sites with a static site generator. So no e-commerce or anything that needs dynamic logic, but more the simple "hey, this is what we do, please contact us" kind of websites.
There are still a few problems to sort out.
I don't know how to use a static site generator. I don't even know which one I want to use.
I still have to convince my clients to let go of Wordpress.
I need to show some portfolio projects built with static site generators.
I plan to crush all of these problems at once. I can learn how to use static site generators, and I can create portfolio projects simultaneously. I'll try out several different static site generators, and the sites I build I can use as part of my portfolio to show clients that A) I can do nice work, & B) Performance difference between a Wordpress site and Static Site. I think once I breakdown the cost difference just in maintenance (hosting, updating, de-bugging Wordpress vs Static Site) -- convincing my small business clients may not be too difficult.
Well, I'll be doing a bit of research and choose 3-5 different options for static site generators to try out. Once I've built a website with each of them - I'll do a head to head comparison and I'll make a choice to stick with for client work.
I'd love some recommendations on where to start and which to try, please leave your suggestions for best static site generators below! I will be writing about my experience with each one and posting it here on Dev.to as part of a series.