September 10, 2020
Everybody has heard of WordPress, and it’s widely used - from small bloggers to big corporations. Its value proposition revolves around easy and fast setup. It brings great advantages like a huge library of plugins (which work right out of the box) and plug-and-play themes, which allow non-programmers to easily set up their websites. That’s great, so where is the catch?
Did you know that statistics show between 70 to 80% of WordPress sites have security vulnerabilities? That’s because WordPress has been around for a long time; it’s written in PHP and plenty of its code is just old. This isn’t a concern for small blogs or private pages, but it certainly should grab the attention of companies using it.
Installing and using plugins, of course, comes with a cost. Some of them are poorly written or simply not kept up to date. That, and the fact that WordPress has a huge, unnecessarily bloated codebase, heavily impacts website loading speed. If you use the internet often, you’ve most likely noticed that some websites load really slow. I assure you that most of those slow sites use WordPress and suffer from its poor optimization.
It’s not that you can’t optimize WP sites for speed. You can, but it’s not easy and involves a lot of programming knowledge and time. One could say: to the point of not being worth it.
Today, having a fast-loading website is not a luxury - it’s a must. Not only because of users’ experience but also because of SEO. Page load time can affect your page rank both directly and indirectly. Google rewards websites loading under one second by ranking them higher in search results. An indirect effect of long page loading times is a higher bounce rate, which immediately converts into less traffic engagement.
I’m not going to convince you that you need something more powerful than WordPress for smaller blogs and personal websites. Because you don’t. The development will cost more, and it won’t bring you that much value. But what about your company website? Shouldn’t it really shine as your window to the global business?
And of course, not to mention larger projects, which definitely need optimization and great UX, given how harsh the competition is today. Customers expect excellence, and you should deliver exactly that, in every possible form. That’s why we embark on the journey to find a technology that’s really, really FAST.
Gatsby is a static site generator. It’s built with React, and it’s a magnificent piece of technology. Not only does it prerender and optimize your whole website. It also automatically optimizes all images by resizing, preloading, compressing and stripping them of metadata. The code for your website is built using components, so it’s beautifully structured. And it uses GraphQL. So you can connect it to any source of data, including… We will talk about that in a moment.
Before you read on, it’s important to know that if you don’t have programming experience, you will not set up a Gatsby website by yourself. Luckily, we are absolute experts at that. And, frankly speaking, even though the site is custom built from scratch, it doesn’t cost THAT much more than WordPress sites, while the benefits are many, oh so many.
Alright, so what does static site mean and what good does it do for me?
Normally when you visit a WordPress website, you will notice that content is being rendered on the go (unless you have a really good caching solution). That means, when you, for example, click on a link to a portfolio, the website will ask the server for portfolio content and start rendering it.
That’s not the case with Gatsby - your site is already pre-rendered before anything is put online. Basically, your static files are loaded directly from a globally distributed CDN. It’s the fastest possible way to serve content on the internet, and it’s dirt cheap.
Think of it that way - you want to see a painting. WordPress website will ask the server for the palette it needs to use and a set of instructions to paint your painting live. Maybe it’s fun to watch (not in the case of websites, as buffering isn’t fun), but you have to WAIT.
Now, when you have a STATIC site and want your painting, the website asks only for the ready, pre-painted piece of art. It doesn’t need to know the instructions nor the palette. It will just display the ready painting for you. And it’s incredibly fast.
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Let’s face it; you have your company, your brand… your child. Do you really want your website to look just like everything else on the internet? While WordPress has some good use cases, building unique, beautiful websites isn’t one of them. Gatsby allows us to build everything from scratch, exactly as imagined. The only boundaries are your imagination and our programming skills. This means that, realistically, the only limit is your creativity.
Since we do custom coding, we also take care of the technical SEO elements for you. This means that Google audits will rank your site significantly higher than the WordPress solutions of your competitors.
You can actually use your favorite WordPress admin panel (or, in fact any other CMS) WITH Gatsby. That’s where the real power is.
Your content is still added through your favorite admin panel, so you can add new posts, edit them, add images and everything else you’d normally do. It’s called headless because there is no frontend directly tied to your CMS panel. They live separately and are completely independent of each other, which is also why there’s nothing to break. Once you input the data, it’s transferred to Gatsby and displayed on your custom-built website.
How does it work? You write your blog post, add all the content you might need, and save it. Now the magic happens. All that data is transferred to our build system (there are many free services for that, e.g., Netlify). Our build system has all the instructions for painting your piece of art exactly as you imagined. So it pre-renders and stores it in a safe place as raw static files.
Every time you add a new post or update an old one, our build system rebuilds the website, meaning that the newest version is always available online. What’s more - once it’s built, it’s stable. When users visit your website, they get that pre-rendered, beautiful piece of art. And they get it REALLY fast.
What’s best about all that is that it’s super secure. Since your website (the front end part of it) doesn’t require any server connection, there’s nothing to hack. Compared to a typical WordPress site (where one can breach your whole admin panel entering from your website), your Gatsby site is just a pre-rendered static file! No backdoors, no exploits.
Summing up, we encourage you to ask for Gatsby the next time you need a new website for your company. You can also check out some of the examples in our portfolio and see for yourself how fast those websites are.
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