A superb web experience could amazingly pave the way for businesses. Check some of the thriving enterprises you know; a highly functional website is common to them all. Do you have any idea why this is the case? The answer is simple; a website has two effects on its users. It either hooks them or sends them away.
Web development has been in an onward motion, and several solutions have emerged. However, static site generators have more to offer. If you have been following the trend of things in the tech world recently, you might have an idea of what a static site generator is. And even if it sounds strange to you, you can learn about it here.
In this article, you will be learning about static site generators. What they are and why they are the next big thing in the web development sphere.
Let’s start by talking about how websites work.
Websites: Types and How They Work
Whenever an attempt to access a webpage is made, an HTTP request is sent to the website’s server. Upon receiving the request, the server returns a response to the browser, which the browser interprets and presents the webpage.
Now let us make a slight distinction. Websites differ in how they are designed. And this, by implication, affects how they work. So, for example, some websites are database-driven, while some work with static site generators. So what’s the difference?
Database-driven websites are dynamic in how they work. In any case, they are otherwise called dynamic sites. A dynamic site functions through a content management system to deliver web pages to users. Its content is drawn from a database connected to the site. One feature of dynamic sites is how they can deliver different content every time they are accessed, without the user manually affecting a change.
Let me give you examples of this. When customers of a bank request their balance via the bank’s website, different amounts are displayed to everyone. And the amount keeps changing as transactions take place. Another good example is a website that gives weather updates. Because the atmospheric condition is constantly changing, content delivered to users keeps changing too. This continuous change makes dynamic sites difficult to maintain.
Websites that work with static site generators are different. And they are also called static websites. We shall explore this in detail throughout the rest of this article.
Taking a clue from the word “static,” we should be able to get our heads around how static sites work quickly. Anything static remains the same. Therefore, a static site delivers information to users exactly as they are stored on the server. Unlike the dynamic type, its content is the same all the time. The fact that static sites work this way makes them easier to maintain. Apart from the ease of maintenance, static sites stand out in their functionality. And the brain behind this is the Static Site Generator. As I said earlier, static site generators have a lot to offer to enhance the web experience. Let’s find out what they are and how they work.
Static Site Generators
As previously stated, requests of web users are delivered to them from servers. A traditional dynamic site would wait for site visitors to make their requests before generating pages. And until the pages are generated, users won’t have access to the contents they requested.
This cycle becomes tasking to handle at peak times (when traffic to the website spikes). This is what a static site generator addresses. A static site generator doesn’t generate views on-demand. Instead, pages are pre-generated and promptly served to users upon request. Let’s look at how this works.
A static site generator is more than a mere replacement for the Content Management System (CMS) of dynamic sites. Content is already bundled into websites with a static site generator during the build process. This implies that it handles needs before they arise.
Did you know the HTML pages database-driven site displays don’t just pop up? Content Management System first gets back needed data from the database where it was stored and then applies some template files to it. Until this is completed, a website will only continue to load. Static site generators save you from all of these.
There are varieties of static site generators that could be used to develop top-notch static sites. However, there are no definite rules to consider when selecting which to use. It is up to members of each development team to decide which to adopt based on the nature of the job at hand and individual preferences.
Some available options include Next.js, Eleventy (11ty), Gatsby, Nuxt.js, Hugo, Jekyll, Gridsome, Bridgetown, VuePress, and Scully. Of course, even 2000 words won’t suffice if I say I will explain in detail how the listed tools work. Nonetheless, let’s take a peek at the top five in 2021.
Top Five Static Site Generators for You
Next.js is a superb static site generator for static sites and web apps. It comes with several tools for server-side rendering. For instance, developers can use its built-in APIs to retrieve data while deploying apps. And like other static site generators, it automates responses to the request of web users.
Eleventy is another top static site generator of the year. Its tools work well to fetch data and merge them with templates while building web apps. A unique feature of Eleventy is its simplicity in creating templates and merging them with data files to respond to requests on sites promptly.
Gatsby functions as a React-based tool. If you are a new developer who’s having trouble deciding which static site generator to start with, Gatsby is a good option. Do you know why I said that? Its work environment gives an appealing developer experience. In addition, Gatsby’s build times which used to be a concern for developers, have improved.
Nuxt.js and Next.js do not just have similar spellings. They both have a lot in common. However, while Next.js is React-based, Nuxt.js is Vue-based. Its low build time also makes app deployment faster. In addition, it is more than a static site generator, and you can use it for server-side rendering as well.
Hugo is unique for its small build time among all static site generators. If you are anticipating massive traffic for your next site, Hugo will make a good option. Its pre-loaded servers deliver pages quickly using templates.
I’m sure you’re already seeing reasons to use a static site generator for your next project. Now let’s wrap it up by talking about the differences it would make in your next website or web app.
What Would Change by Using Static Site Generators
Since static site generators deliver responses via a Content Delivery Network (CDN), you’ve got everything you need for a lightning-fast website. However, keeping up with traffic spikes is a big problem for database-driven sites. As previously stated, static site generators generate pages before web users request them, reducing the average response time.
The complexity of websites is one of the primary reasons for their slowness. For example, database-driven sites like WordPress first retrieve data from servers before delivering responses through the Content Management System (CMS). When this happens to many web users, sites begin to respond slowly. All these complications would not occur if you used static site generators.
Security is a major factor to consider when developing websites. A lot goes into securing database-driven sites. When I say a lot, it is not just an overstatement. This is because their databases are open to attacks from hackers. And again, most dynamic sites make use of external plugins.
Things are different with static site generators, as Content Delivery Networks eliminate the need for a database. This reduces the security concerns you will have. So, static site generators do not just make quick access to data possible; it ensures safety from cyber security hackers to a significant level.
One great thing about static site generators is how they keep sites scalable. Since requests of web users are not handled on-demand, static sites retain their performance regardless of the spike in traffic.
Static site generators take care of scalability during the build process. So if you want the user experience of your website to remain first-class, static site generators got you covered.
Cost and Maintenance
Because static site generators minimize the complexity of sites, a lesser amount is needed to keep them working. As a result, static sites are generally cheaper to host on cloud platforms and require less technical attention.
Static Site Generators are real game-changers in the web development cycle. They will turn around the functionality of your website and application, giving you more creative freedom and less stress when it comes to your website.