If you’ve thought about ditching your WordPress website as an alternative, you might have already seen that there isn’t much real competition in the way of costs and ease of use. WordPress provides an easy to use platform that is cheap to host, and doesn’t require a lot of work to get right.
But if your main reason for switching comes down to speed, security, development, or cost, there are better options out there. Specifically Static Site Generators. These useful tools have been in use by internal teams and agencies for a while now, but have in the last few years become a great alternative to traditional CMS and blog hosting platforms/frameworks like WordPress.
If your use of WordPress is not extraordinarily customised or sophisticated, a static site generator might be the perfect option for you.
What is a Static Site Generator?
Static site generators are at their core just applications that turn files into static website assets. HTML, CSS, and JS. These programs create static website assets based on files that you customize and turn them into files that you can host on a web server. Many static site generators use markup files to render HTML then. Themes are used to help render styles and other elements that will make up the page as well.
CMS based web frameworks like WordPress use server-side rendering to build a page when a user visits a website. However, with a static site generator, you pre-build your page that the user sees. This makes your website more accessible to load and allows you to do things like putting a CDN in front of your site, which will help reliability and speed.
How can I use this as an alternative to WordPress?
If you’re using WordPress for a blog or simple marketing website, you aren’t using many features that require server-side rendering. Most of your pages have content that stays the same a large amount of the time, and when you want to publish new content, you are merely doing so using a CMS.
These features are easily replicated using a static site generator. And you can customise your workflow to suit how you or your team like to work. With some different CMS and editing options for static site generators, you aren’t limited to using just the WordPress editor. Developers can use markdown files, and marketers can use a headless CMS.
What are the benefits?
There are four significant benefits to using static site generators.
The first significant benefit is speed. Because you don’t have to build pages on a server, your pages load faster. You can then add a CDN in front of your website, like Cloudflare to increase your speed even further. As speed becomes more important for search rankings (thanks Google), static site generators will be an even more attractive option as a WordPress alternative.
The second significant benefit is security. Because you don’t need to host a WordPress installation, you don’t have any server-side services public facing (unless you choose to create your own). This means that because your website content is all static, there is not much available for anyone to hack into. Anyone who has had their WordPress installation hacked will immediately see the benefit in this.
The fourth and most important reason to consider the switch is cost. It’s cheap to host and serve static content. You can host a static site on AWS for just a couple dollars a month, or on services like Netlify for free!
What are the best Static Site Generators to use?
If all of the benefits have you eager to try out a static site generator, we have some recommendations. Specifically one in almost every language web developers commonly use. See if any of these sound like an option that would work for you.
Jekyll is the old guard of static site generators. Written in Ruby and heavily promoted by Github (it powers Github pages) this static site generator offers simple blog-aware static sites. Jekyll has excellent docs and lots of themes and is in our opinion the best alternative to WordPress.
Hugo is a static site generator written in Go. It has a reputation of being a little difficult to use, but if you are familiar with Go, already it should make lots of sense. It is one of the faster static site generators, so if speed is important to you, this would be a great choice.
Pelican is a static site generator, written in Python. If you’re familiar with Python, this is a great choice. However, with limited themes, you will need to take some time to create a site that works for you.
If you are dead set on using PHP for your next project, Sculpin is for you. Sculpin is a PHP static site generator. It touts itself as being fast and easy to get started.
If you’ve ever thought about ditching your WordPress website as an alternative, you might have already seen that there isn’t much real competition in the way of costs and ease of use. WordPress stands alone when it comes to the ease of use, and extra features you can get with little to no real configuration required.
But if your main reason for switching comes down to speed, security, development, or cost, there are better options out there. Static Site Generators. With more available now than ever, now is the time to take a look at what static site generators can offer you. These tools come with more themes, features, and extra goodies than ever before. So if you’re considering the switch from WordPress, be sure to consider a static site generator.