Back to Blog

WordPress vs the JAMstack

01
Nov
2021
WordPress vs the JAMstack

WordPress remains the champion of Content Management. Currently, its power usage reaches approximately 35% of the internet. In its launch in 2004, it started as a pure blogging platform. Nowadays, it's a multi-purpose platform for building websites. Further, it has a vast ecosystem of themes and plugins. It's the de-facto choice for many website owners. In most cases, it relates to it being inexpensive and easy to handle without coding knowledge.

Yet, web technologies are changing a lot over the years. In turn, WordPress's techs are becoming less trendy than it once was. Front-End .js frameworks, like React, lead the road to a new website-building chapter. As a result, devs are exploring alternatives to WordPress and its PHP-based templates, and one of the most remarkable rising alternatives is JAMstack. In the wordpress jamstack or jamstack wordpress dilemma, how to know which approach to choose?

What is JAMstack?

JAMstack (JavaScript, APIs, and Markup) web tech stack keeps growing in popularity. JavaScript powers the front end, APIs connect is to services for the client side, and pages are static html files. The main difference is that it doesn't rely on a server. Instead of linking to a database and building on server requests, JAMstacks development works on pre-built and serverless sites, creating and sending static files through a content delivery network. Server-like functionalities come from third-party services via APIs, while static web generators ease the creation of more accessible sites in real time. Developers can spin up basic sites with SSGs, like Gatsby or Hugo.

JAMstack for Content Management

JAMstack sites have many ways to manage content, like headless CMS (Content Management Systems). A headless jamstack CMS allows users to add content from an admin panel. You can also send content to the source code's repository or store it in a cloud service. In the JAMstack architecture, a static site can get data lying in a server via an API. The data display management depends on the front end. Now, let's compare the structure of a Gatsby and a WordPress site.

What are JAMstack Benefits?

Besides being the new shiny thing in web dev, there are other reasons jamstack has a popular approach. For a start, it solves many pain points both for website owners and developers. These include being faster, cheaper, easier to scale, and safer.

1. Speed. JAMstack sites load fast. You can store routing libraries that make links appear instantly. As a result, this provides an excellent User Experience. Furthermore, it's a desirable advantage because speed is relevant for search engines. The way of building and deploying sites is what makes them so fast. They have pre-building and serving rather than connections via requests to a server. Traditional site builders can also use CDNs, yet these use them for storing served static cache content. It's much faster if the CDN serves the whole site.

2. Costs. Hosting static files is cheap and is often free for smaller sites. Scaling is way more accessible, too. In traditional sites, spikes in traffic can slow down the server or even make it crash. With a CDN, scaling up to meet users' demands is easier.

3 Experience. There are several JAMstack alternatives as devs can pick the JavaScript libraries and frameworks they want to work with. In the meanwhile, they can also leverage tools like Babel and Webpack. Also, static website generators, like Gatsby and Hugo, ease the setup for a great environment. The site's code gets conveniently stored in a repository like Git instead of a server. The repository keeps track of changes and allows you to revert to previous versions. If other devs collaborate, they can pull the code onto their local environment without complex installations.

4. Security. JAMstack sites are less prone to attacks because they don't interact dynamically with servers. In fact, you don't have to worry about server or database vulnerabilities. Yet, WordPress sites need frequent updates to avoid security vulnerabilities. If you ignore this, your site is open to malicious attacks.

What are JAMstack Limitations?

Beyond its coolness, there may often be better project choices.

1. Reliance. You need to know JavaScript to get a site running. A JAMstack site will be far more time-consuming, even if you're handy with JS. If you hire a frontend developer, any further changes will need them. When discussing this edge, the debate jamstack vs wordpress has a clear winner. Using WordPress, you don’t need technical knowledge to make a website quickly. You can make most style changes from the dashboard through the theme editor. There’s usually a plugin for extra customization to fix a problem or add a function. If not, WordPress communities allow non-technical people to solve problems. With suitable themes and plugins, anyone can have a functioning web in the short term on WordPress.

2. Staticity. JAMstack isn’t suitable for dynamic sites with constant updates or lots of user interactions. Its ecosystem is improving its capabilities, but it’s not yet there. One of the main reasons is its building time. If you change the site’s code or content, you’ll trigger a rebuild. With a large site, this could take up to 15 minutes. This con can be annoying when making minor updates or corrections. Static websites hosting services tend to charge based on build minutes. So, frequent updates will quickly use up your minutes unless you have a generous plan. Fortunately, there are ways to cache pages to help speed up build time. It’s only a problem if a lot of content is frequently updated.

3. Optimization. There are a lot of guides with excellent ways of speeding up WordPress sites. A WordPress site can be high-speed if you follow some rules. Among these, there's a CDN, a lightweight theme, and image optimization. WordPress gets a bad reputation for speed due to bad practices from some users. Sometimes, unwittingly, they build sites burdened with unnecessary plugins and large image files. Not everyone on WordPress has knowledge or experience with site optimization. That's often because the barrier to access is low.

Conclusion

JAMstack sites are a fun part of the Javascript ecosystem. If your teammates are handy with JS or have the budget for exploring a complete developer experience, you can have a blazing-fast site. Yet, WordPress is often still the best choice. You can see this if your team is primarily non-technical or if you don’t have the budget for a custom site. With attention to optimization, achieving a fast and secure WordPress site is possible!