Why not go with Jekyll (static site generator) instead of Wordpress?

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Hello BuSo'ers, I'm so glad I found this community to discuss stuff related to making money online.

Due to my own circumstances, I have landed onto webdev/programming at a late age. If you start building, you soon realize that there are a LOT of tools to build the exact same thing you are building – only faster, better, simpler, or so they say.

Recently I have started to dabble in static sites, and static site generators, like Gatsby, Middleman, or the most well known of them all, Jekyll.

And I have to say that I'm surprised with the results, at least on a local level – or local installation. The template engine is really easy to grasp; the logic is also pretty straightforward and with all the includes, partials, and data management capabilities, I can't help but think if the site I have already built (in Wordpress) might be due for a 'revamp'.

See, the site itself looks good, thanks mostly to Generatepress, Tachyons CSS and my own speed-and-mobile-above-it-all approach, but... will changing to Jekyll allow for:
  1. More customizing (escaping the filters and hooks from Wordpress)
  2. Better speed (we all know how fast can static sites get)
  3. In turn, better SERP ranking and SEO
  4. Lower hosting requirements (can be hosted in Netlify, Google Firebase or similar)
Or will it all be for naught? On the minus side, I'm worried that:
  1. If the site starts to get image-heavy, I might have to use S3 storage, incurring in much higher costs that the usual $25 yearly VPS bill.
  2. Not being WP-based might hurt exit prospects (a buyer not familiar with SSGs may not be as willing to pay top dollar for the site)
What are your thoughts on these? Open to suggestions and criticisim. You all have been making money online longer that I have been 'researching', so please do tell.
 

Ryuzaki

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@aemege, welcome aboard, glad you're posting and not just lurking.

We've had a lot of discussion around this topic. Here's a couple you can skim through and see if they offer you anything:
Tachyons CSS is pretty cool, I hadn't heard of that one. I like Skeleton CSS myself, though ultimately I ended up building my own framework. Thanks for mentioning that, I'm going to look into it.

It terms of customizing, I don't think they offer a benefit, possibly even less so due to the lack of a database and the nifty ways of storing various info to loop through.

For speed, sure, but that's what caching is for. If you cache your Wordpress site, you're serving the user a static version of the site without needing to compile PHP or query the database.

Yeah, you could end up with cheaper hosting costs, but again, with caching and speed optimization you're already getting extremely close to what a static site generator (SSG) can do. You should only rarely be getting non-cached hits.

I'm of the opinion that not being Wordpress based can be a negative during a liquidation event. But it depends on the size of the site, how much tinkering would be involved, the knowledge base of the buyer and/or their ability to hire someone that can do it for them.

If you don't plan on selling, then do whatever you want. I'm at a point where time is the limiting factor and I'm all about reducing friction everywhere possible. If an SSG can do that for you then by all means.

For example, I don't want to train writers or a VA how to do Twig or Markdown or even base level HTML. And I don't want to have to do all of that either when they turn in content.

In my opinion, anything an SSG can do, Wordpress can do, though it may require some effort to get it there if you can't design your own themes and plugin functionalities, etc. I certainly don't pooh-pooh static sites. That's how I started building sites, with just HTML & CSS, then bringing in PHP partials, etc.
 

CCarter

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With WordPress I found that people tend to use it to just get a site up, but sort of lazily use it for the potential plugins. So instead of taking the time to learn basic, and I mean very basic html, they would rather install a plugin to get the job done.

Well the plugins are never optimized for speed, security, nor coding. Nor are the themes.

So you got an environment where bad coding, security, and speed are prevalent with in-experienced website owners, can only end badly, or expensive. The wordpress owner will always be at a disadvantage to the experienced competitor who has experienced developers or are one themselves.

On an exit it might be easier to sell a wordpress cause getting content creators and editors up and running would be faster, but that’s really for only website who solely rely on articles creation for their business like affiliate sites.

When you need serious customization to create a higher barrier to entry for your business over the competition, making your business more valuable, you can’t just “download a plugin”, anyways.

Wordpress is like having a Toyota, everyone has one, but you’ll never build an “Amazon” or “Facebook” or “Instagram” or major operation out of it.

The best exit so far is TheWireCutter and realistically anyone with a brain, funding, and organizational skill can mimic their operation rather easily. 90% of affiliate are already there.

So in the end it depends on the reasoning for the business to exist in the first place. If it’s a simple recipe site to help your Aunt with her cooking recipes, yeah I think you got yourself a winner. But if you are trying to build “the next great thing”, obviously WordPress isn’t the route to go.
 
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If the site starts to get image-heavy, I might have to use S3 storage, incurring in much higher costs that the usual $25 yearly VPS bill.
You won't be hitting that roadblock anytime soon. Check out this article by Unsplash. Their S3 cost is for serving tens of millions of images per month.

If you're hosting through netlify or github/gitlab pages, you've got up to 10gb storage in the git repo anyway. Worry about the roadblocks when you get to them, not before you've even started.

In a side note,
If you like tachyon css, you'll definitely like tailwind css, which is my goto for customizations.
 
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Jekyll is amazing and would definitely recommend it for a subdomain for something like support.site.com.

Wordpress makes life easy via plugins.
 
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Thank you everyone for your insight.

As I don't fully grasp yet the power of static generators, I believe it's risky to move my current site to Jekyll in its current state. Might fuck it up when it comes to permalinks and I don't want to penalize the site due to my own incompetence, so...

Here's what I will do: I just bought a 4€ .com domain via Porkbun and will use it to test out an affiliate site in my geography/language. I will create the same silo structure, customize it using either Tachyons or Tailwindcss (thanks @FIREman) and host it using Github+Netlify (you're right @cary, I'm a bit arrogant to, at this stage, think that I will hit those roadblocks anytime soon).

Of course, everything will be set up so that nothing is missing when compared to its WP counterpart: I'm talking about
  • Product cards using partials and includes
  • Basic SEO stuff (titles, description, open graph metadata)
  • Sitemap XML and autopinging to Google crawler
  • Google News sitemap (often overlooked, but very important)
  • Structured Data / Schema.org / Rich snippets (MANDATORY if you want your posts to be picked up as 'snippets' in the searches)
    • This includes the new and soon-to-be-abused FAQ schema
Once it's finished or well on its way to be, I will report back with results and stuff.

Question for the sages: what's your take on AMP?
 
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Question for the sages: what's your take on AMP?
I'm only a Level 3 Sage, but my opinion on AMP is it can piss off. It's cool, honestly, in the same way Facebook Instant Articles is cool. The user clicks an article, it loads really fast, stripping away your carefully crafted user experience, and the user never leaves the platform they were on. There's a sleight of hand going on, where they tell you they're making your site faster (they are), but they're really using that as an excuse to keep the traffic to themselves as much as possible.

AMP is a lot more tolerable now that you have the /amp/ designation in the URL instead of being sent to a Google URL, where users would end up sharing and building links to a URL you don't control.
 

darkzerothree

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So in the end it depends on the reasoning for the business to exist in the first place. If it’s a simple recipe site to help your Aunt with her cooking recipes, yeah I think you got yourself a winner. But if you are trying to build “the next great thing”, obviously WordPress isn’t the route to go.
(Emphasis mine)

FUCK YES!

If you have a site that does more than a WordPress blog, and that might even just be in the structure, look at alternative CMSes, or even custom coding.
 
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I'm going to sound like an opinionated cunt here. (Nothing new there ).

I've basically told anyone I know who's starting a new site to avoid WordPress its just so damn unsecure. The whole infrastructure is just crap.

With that said it also begs the question if WordPress is to be avoided what's the point of learning PHP. The only reason in 2019 nearly 2020 you'd want to learn PHP is ethier to work on WordPress plugins and themes or work on legacy code.