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Static Sites: A Better Alternative To WordPress.

September 22nd 2019

What Are Static Websites?

Static websites are made up of HTML and other supporting assets. These supporting assets can include style sheets, JavaScript files, images, fonts, markdown files, etc.

Don’t let the name static fool you. Static sites can be very powerful and with today’s technologies, you can add dynamic functionality to your site. With the help of content management systems (CMS) and micro-services, you can create a blog, e-commerce sites, etc. The very site you are reading this article on is a static site built with a static site generator.

Why Static Sites?

Static sites have been around since the beginning of the internet. With the latest web technologies, static sites can be powerful enough to compete with their dynamic counterparts. One of the most popular platforms for dynamic sites is WordPress. The main advantages static sites have over sites like WordPress are search engine optimization, performance, security, and cost.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Lets first start with search engine optimization or SEO. One of the contributing factors in SEO is site speed. We will further discuss site speed in the performance section below. There is an increasing number of people accessing content from mobile devices. It is for that reason that search engines rank mobile-friendly sites higher. The static sites we build our clients are all optimized for mobile devices as well as larger screens.

Performance

As mentioned above site speed plays a big part in SEO. Speed also plays a role in the user experience. Users will abandon sites that fail to load quickly. Static sites don’t have to wait for pages to build on request. Instead, pages are generated at deploy time and the prebuilt files are served over a content delivery network (CDN). Most CDNs can serve a site from multiple locations. This is advantageous for a couple of reasons. First, a site will be served from the closest location to that user, which reduces the latency and improves user experience. Second, if a particular CDN server goes down your site can still be accessed from another CDN location.

For a typical WordPress site, several layers are needed to perform the same task. For example, a browser makes a request and that request is handled by a server that inspects and routes the URL. This type of server is often known as a web server. The request is then passed to the server-side code that contains all the logic. The logic code determines which templates should be combined with various data sources. Data is retrieved from a database. The application logic renders a response, with the appropriate template and data, and passes that response back to the web server. The web server then passes the response back to the browser where it is displayed to the user.

Security

As previously mentioned static sites have no databases or server-side code. This reduces the attack surface and vulnerabilities. Simpler architecture means fewer things to attack and therefore fewer things that need to be patched and protected. Remember static sites do not have logical code that is executed at request time. This means we can avoid effecting changes to the system. The way static sites reduce the attack surface while still allowing more complex functionalities is by abstracting the server-side processing into micro-service application program interfaces (APIs).

Because WordPress makes up a large number of sites on the internet and has multiple layers to its infrastructure, it is a big target for hackers. WordPress sites have databases, server-side logic, templates, and an interface to configure and manage the site and its content. Most WordPress sites also use plug-ins to expand its functionality. Not only do you need to trust the developers of these plugins, but they must also constantly be maintained and updated. All these components must be properly maintained and guarded to make sure your site is secure.

Cost

Scaling a site to account for increasing traffic can increase the cost. Scaling a static site is just a matter of serving files and other assets in more places. CDNs have this capability and make scaling easier and lower the costs. Maintaining a complex infrastructure can require more time and more personnel. Running a static site dramatically reduces the financial cost of developing, maintaining, and securing websites and applications.

Conclusion

Deploying a static site over a typical dynamic architecture has several advantages. With the advances in tools and micro-services, static sites can now implement the same features that the traditional dynamic sites can. If SEO, performance, security, and cost are all important factors for your site it’s definitely time to consider deploying a static site. If you need experts in developing, deploying, and running a static site contact Ortega Software Solutions today!

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