WordPress vs. the JAMstack

Written by
Mandy Trilck

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 website creator. 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.

JAMstack Alternative

JAMstack (JavaScript, APIs, and Markup) web tech stack keeps growing in popularity. JS powers the front-end, APIs connect the front-end to services, and pages are static files. The main difference is that JAMstack doesn't rely on a server. Instead of linking to a database and building on server requests, JAMstacks sites are pre-built and serverless. A CDN (Content Distribution Network) creates and sends the static files. Server-like functionalities come from third-party services via APIs. Static web generators are also emerging to make creating a site with JAMstack more accessible. Developers can spin up basic sites with SSGs, like Gatsby or Hugo.

WordPress vs. the JAMstack

JAMstack for Content Management

JAMstack sites have lots of ways to manage content. One of these methods is Headless CMS (Content Management Systems). A headless CMS allows users to add content from an admin panel. Also, you can send the content to the source code's repository or store it in a cloud platform service. A static site can get data lying in a server via an API. The management of how the data gets displayed depends on the front-end.

JAMstack vs. WordPress

Let's compare the structure of a Gatsby and a WordPress site.

What are the Benefits of JAMstack?

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.

JAMstack 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 static cache content. It's much faster if the CDN serves the whole site.

JAMstack 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.

JAMstack Experience

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 site 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.

JAMstack 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.

WordPress vs. the JAMstack

What are the Limitations of JAMstack?

Beyond its coolness, often, there may be better choices than JAMstack for a project.

JAMstack Reliance

You need to know JavaScript to get a JAMstack site running. A JAMstack site will be far more time-consuming, even if you're handy with JS. If you hire a developer to set up a JAMstack site, any further change will need a developer. Using WordPress, you don’t need technical knowledge to make a website quickly. You can make most style changes straight 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.

JAMstack Staticity

JAMstack isn’t suitable for dynamic sites with constant updates or lots of user interactions. The JAMstack 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 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.

JAMstack 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.


JAMstack sites are a fun part of the Javascript ecosystem. If your teammates are handy with JS, or the budget for developers, 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!

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