Breaking Blog

by Troy Scott

2013/09/29

Sometimes change for the sake of change is a good thing. I only make a few posts each year but i found that i was continually updating WordPress with the latest patch   or release. Secondly, I found my site to be fairly slow (1 to 3 sec page load times) considering i did not have a lot of content or traffic on the site.

The other thing that was frustrating are the content editors like Windows Live Writer and Blogsy for the iPad. Each tool would generate its own html and inline css. There was no standard approach for each post. Then I came across the idea of Static Site Generators. Do you really need all the complexity of a server side technology and a database to generate content?
For most public facing sites like blogs the only reason you need security is to edit your site online or to publish your posts via an API.

No matter how well you tune your WordPress, Joomla or Drupal site (any dynamically generated site) it will not performa as well as a static site. Secondly customizing sites like WordPress or Drupal can be a daunting task. You have to understand how each frameworks works. Why not just leverage the skills you already have like html, CSS and javascript. Frameworks like Jekyll, Hyde and Ruhoh offer such a solution. They allow you to build websites using combination of html, css, javascript and a templating system.

The templating system is different for each static site generator framework but the idea is the same. If you are familiar with server side programming like Python Django or Ruby on Rails it is easy to learn. I recently converted this blog from WordPress to a static site using Jekyll. I used Jekyll over the other frameworks because it is well documented and being used by companies like Github and Development Seed.

This is the first post using the Jekyll framework and it written in Markdown using Adboe Edge Code. Before you decide to jump in and convert your existing blog to a static site there are some important things to consider:

  • Does your site contain secured content? (e.g. users must login to view pages)
  • Do you use your site to generate revenue? (its your main source of income)
  • How many blog posts and static pages does your website contain?
  • Are you having performance issues with your existing site?

These are just some items to consider before make the decision to convert your site. Its important to note that services like WordPress are great for blogging and sharing content. They just work. Static Web Site generators are just another option especially for people that don't mind doing a little hacking or have a friend that can set the site up for you (e.g. Github Pages plus Prose.io provided by Development Seed). The real challenges are deciding what the benefits are of converting your site and the possible challenges you may encounter. But that is for another post.