In this modern era of large, powerful, complex websites, we often lose sight of what really matters: the user experience. This can encompass everything from how fast the site loads, to how responsive it is, to simply how easy it is to find in search results. Our sites can have all the bells and whistles imaginable but if no one visits or sticks around, what’s the point?
Why Static Sites?
There are a ton of benefits to static sites, some of the key ones being:
- Great for search engines. Unlike a lot of modern dynamic websites, when you visit a page in a static site, you receive all the information right away. With dynamic sites there can be delays as the content is requested from a server, etc. During this delay, the search engine crawler may have already moved on, assuming there’s no content there. With static sites, the crawler gets everything right away. We all love a happy crawler, right?
How Do We Get There?
There are a few different approaches one could take.
The second is to use a static site generator to build the site. There are a wide range of these tools but the general idea is that you use your software development tools and frameworks of choice and the static site generator takes the result and creates the static pages from it. It basically visits all the pages and takes the resulting pages received by the browser and saves them for later use. That’s a gross oversimplification but it gets the idea across. Some popular examples are Gridsome for Vue developers, Gatsby for React developers, and Jekyll for Ruby. There are tons more but that would be a blog post in itself.
But I already have a great WordPress site! Guess what, there are static site generator plugins for WordPress! I know, right? But don’t get too excited yet, they’re not a silver bullet. If your site uses plugins for things like e-commerce, memberships, etc. there’s a good chance the site generator plugins won’t work. These kind of things require a lot of server interaction and since a static site doesn’t have a server backend, you’ll likely be out of luck. But for that information, blog-like WordPress site, static site generator plugins may just do the trick! Just keep in mind that there will likely be some development work involved.
Wrapping It Up
To summarize, if you’re experiencing any of the following, your analysis should definitely include static websites:
- Complaints that your site is slow
- Poor search engine rankings
- Higher than preferred hosting costs
- Lower visitors than expected
If you’re just looking to get an idea what this static websites thing is all about, you can stop reading here. I just wanted to include some resources for those looking to dig deeper into the development side. Feel free to pass this on to your development team or partner!
Static Site Generators
- Jekyll: https://jekyllrb.com/
- Hugo: https://gohugo.io/
This is just a small sample of some of the more popular ones. Here’s a link to a very overwhelming list of options: https://www.staticgen.com/
- Simply Static: https://wordpress.org/plugins/simply-static/
- WP2Static: https://wordpress.org/plugins/static-html-output-plugin/
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