Ever wondered why some websites load faster than others?
There can be several reasons behind the difference in the load times. But one of the most basic differences is that some websites are static. And others are dynamic.
Static vs. Dynamic Websites
Static websites are sites that have fixed content. Each page is coded in HTML, and every visitor sees the same content. They are the easiest and the most basic type of website. And because the pages that need to be displayed are premade, it is blazingly fast.
Dynamic websites, on the other hand, require web programming and database designing. This means the page is generated each time on demand. This increases load time.
How are static websites built?
To create a static website, HTML pages are built and uploaded to a server. And the content remains the same unless updated by the website owners.
Static sites often utilize templates which helps in making quick changes that need to be effective on all pages of the website. And to maintain uniformity on the site.
Just like we have website builders to create dynamic websites, static site generators (SSGs) are used to create static websites.
Unlike website builders, static site generators do not use page builders. And are not suitable for websites with several pages.
But if you need a small website that won’t be changed often, static websites and static site generators are the best options.
Which brings us to…
How do Static Site Generators Work?
SSGs work in a simple manner. Data and content are applied to a template, and a view of the page is generated and served to a visitor.
SSGs don’t wait for visitors to demand to see a page to build it. The page view is generated at the build-time itself. And all possible views of the page are generated. This makes the page views available ahead of time. And thus, the quick load speed.
While SSGs are a great way to build static websites, the options can be confusing.
To make sure that you don’t have to try a hundred options before getting to the most suitable one, we did it for you. And found the top 10 open-source static website generators for you to use in 2021 and beyond.
Take a look.
Hugo is a static site generator specifically designed for speed, ease of use, and configurability. It is built using the Go programming language and offers advanced theming support (if you require that).
It renders directories with contents and templates into full HTML websites. And for metadata, it uses markdown files with front matter.
Advantages of using Hugo:
- Easy setup,
- Built-in LiveReload,
- A great development community,
- Lightning-fast speed,
- Uses only – JSON, RSS; No use of HTML,
- Written in golang.
Pelican is an SSG that lets users write their blog entries directly in the editor of their choice. It supports reStructuredText and Markdown.
It also allows for integration with third-party tools like Google Analytics or Twitter.
Advantages of using Pelican:
- Easy deployment,
- Simple customization,
- Implemented on Python,
- It gives the option of PDF generation of the pages/articles,
- Content caching and selective output writing that allows for fast rebuild times,
- Multi-language support.
3. Eleventy (11ty)
Advantages of using Eleventy:
- Proper documentation makes it easy to use,
- Allows progressive template conversion,
- Multiple template language compatibility,
- Flexible configuration options (even when it is zero-config by default),
- Zero boilerplate code on the client-side,
- Can work with existing directory structures.
Gatsby is a popular site generator framework that uses React.js for creating beautiful and fast-loading websites (irrespective of the source).
It offers thousands of plugins and themes and several integration options without compromising the benefits of a static site.
Advantages of using Gatsby:
- Superfast websites,
- Components are reusable,
- Official plugin to connect it with a lot of CMS and even Drupal,
- Markdown files can be used as articles,
- Combines the benefits of React and GraphQL with static sites,
- Progressive web apps generation.
It offers a smooth deployment process and supports over ten languages that aid internationalization.
Advantages of using Nikola:
- Helps avoid platform and vendor lock-in,
- It can be hosted anywhere,
- Quick rebuilds,
- Server-side optimization,
- Multiple plugin options and scope for template customization,
- Several input options to choose from.
Jekyll can be considered as a file-based CMS. Just without the complexities. It can be used to create static websites that can be served by Apache, Nginx, or any other web server.
It offers integration with nine tools, including Tipe, DatoCMS, Liquid, Buddy, etc.
Advantages of using Jekyll:
- One of the best options for blogging,
- Extremely low maintenance solution,
- Sleek and customizable,
- A quick and simple deployment process,
- Elaborate plugin ecosystem,
- Allows authoring simplicity and freedom.
Publii is an open-source static website generator that requires no coding or HTML.
Its main goal as a static site generator is to let users with all levels of expertise create a static website. And that is possible with the intuitive user interface that it offers.
Advantages of using Publii:
- Extremely easy to use,
- Fast loading pages,
- Built-in WP importer for migration from WordPress,
- A desktop app that offers ease of use,
- Nearly impenetrable websites that are safe from hack attacks,
- Offers integration with Google Cloud, Netlify, and others.
8) Statiq Web
Built on top of the Statiq Framework, Statiq Web is a site generator toolkit that is quick, efficient, and easy.
It is a flexible site generator that is written in .NET.
Advantages of using Statiq Web:
- For the most basic scenarios, no configuration is needed. But the scope for configuration is present for specific conditions,
- Built-in support for deployment to a variety of services,
- Batteries are included,
- It can be used out-of-the-box. Or extended using custom pipelines, layouts, and data sources.
- Support for HTML, Markdown, and Razo,r
- Understands JSON, XML, YAML, and other data forms.
WP2Static is a WordPress plugin that can be used to create a static site of your WordPress website. The static site generator takes snapshots of your site’s pages and makes the site available for visitors.
The site so generated contains the HTML and CSS code and images of your website.
Advantages of using WP2Static:
- Lets users publicly use only a static version of their site, and the site itself can be hosted locally or privately. Thus, giving heightened security.
- Faster results than using caching plugins,
- Compatible with Yoast SEO and other SEO similar plugins for search engine optimization,
- Works seamlessly with Snipcart, a platform-independent eCommerce solution to replace WooCommerce in the static version of the website,
- Bypasses SQL injection concerns,
- Creates a minimal impact on memory usage and optimized database footprint.
Next.js is a minimalistic framework that can be used to create static pages from the React code. (It can also be used to create React sites with server-side rendering.)
It offers built-in tools for routing, code-splitting, and state, etc., that eases work.
Advantages of using Next.js:
- Uses getCustomInitialProps for data fetches at build time,
- Easy deployment and use,
- Heightened safety for your static website as it is not exposed on a public server,
- Makes use of deployment solutions like Vercel and AWS S3,
- Ability to export an app to static files after the app has been built,
- Allows frictionless development.
Depending on your specific needs, you can pick from any of these open-source static site generators and start developing a static site at the earliest.