Going Static: Speeding Up and Staying Secure in 2019

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  • 2/26/2019
    In the past, creating a website with constantly evolving content called for a dynamic website to match. However, as front-end technologies and tooling continue to advance, the necessity for a dynamic server is beginning to fade. Today, it is possible to utilize new tools and frameworks to accomplish all the things dynamic sites provide with the added benefits that come along with going static. Let’s review some options you may want to explore for your brand.

    Static Site Generators and Tooling
    There are many Static Site Generators (SSGs) out there. Choosing between them depends on the languages/frameworks/technologies the developer(s) would like to work in. 

    For example, if developers are looking to develop in React, they have the choice between Next and Gatsby, two great frameworks with SSG baked-in. Developers who prefer Vue.js have Nuxt, Gridsome, and VuePress at their fingertips. And for those uninterested in newer JavaScript frameworks, choices like Jekyll, Hugo, and Hexo are also great options.
    Handling Content Management with Static Sites
    One approach for content management is a headless CMS. Headless CMSs differ from traditional CMSs in that they are entirely decoupled and are queried via REST or GraphQL at the time of generation. Many new SSGs play very well with headless CMSs.

    Another approach for SSGs that do not utilize headless CMSs is via local files. These frameworks rely on strict directory structures, template languages and content-rich files to generate entire static sites. A headless CMS framework we are fond of, and partner with, is Kentico Cloud
    By keeping files local and static they can be version-controlled using Git for safe backups and reverts down the road. Having the files saved locally in the repo also alleviates the need for a database or CMS to handle content.
    Handling Form Submissions and Other Functions
    A static site may need additional functionalities like form submissions and payment processing. To accomplish this, there are many great software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers. For example, to implement form submissions on a static site, using a service like Formspree is simple, cheap and pain free. To implement e-commerce, services like Snipcart are a few clicks away. These are just a few of many SaaS tools available to accomplish common functions needed in a website.
    Decoupled Static Websites vs. The Dynamic Monolith Website
    It may seem foolish decoupling all the various aspects of a website into many different frameworks and services. On paper, accomplishing all of these goals with a single monolithic website appears much easier. However, there are massive benefits to keeping things decoupled.
    For starters, the site is no longer locked in to any specific service. By isolating each function and service, testing and gauging performance of each individual portion is much easier. If the form submission provider that was originally chosen is underperforming, swapping it out for a new contender is simple.
    Give Static Sites a Chance
    Going static does come with some caveats. For starters, ditching a full-featured server complicates common functionalities like form submissions, content management and email notifications.
    In all, static websites are no longer truly static. They can accomplish many of the functionalities that were previously only available to dynamic sites, with the added benefits of speed and security. 
    For developers itching to try new technologies and stacks, utilizing SSGs and headless CMSs can provide that opportunity without sacrificing on functionality. The internet is a truly dynamic place, but remember, a website doesn’t have to be.
    Have thoughts on going static? Comment below or shoot us a message!
    About the author::Matt Waler is a Front-End Developer at thunder::tech. He takes high-fidelity design files and brings them to life with bleeding-edge technologies. On the off chance he is not developing, you will find Matt eating Mexican, powerlifting and playing Counter Strike.
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