Why I moved to a static site from WordPress

Posted on Thu, 17 July 2014 in development

Couple of days ago I reneved my site. My old site contained information of my business Orchid Bits, and what I could do with my customers. There was not much content, still the relevant info was there to be found. There was a blog, but it was basically waiting content. The old site was built using local installation of WordPress.

WordPress experiences

WordPress is an excellent publishing platform, on my opinion and experience. It provides almost endless possibities for expansion via plugin system and the appearance can be customized almost to every imaginable design via themes.

I like WordPress a lot, I have been using it for quite a long time on many client projects, and it is actually my Content Management System of choice. On many cases it is necessary to provide various administration, content creation and publishing tools for the client. WordPress gives you all that out of the box (as would many, many other content management systems). Many different kinds of functionalities can be implemented with plugins, such as contact forms, image galleries and polls. Everything from a simple personal blogs to full-blown eCommerce sites.

WordPress started its evolution to current versatile itself as a humble blogging platform. New versions with new features and upgrades to old ones has been released over the years, as all software products are supposed to do. As a side effect, complexity of the code grows, as does possibility to bugs. WordPress code is very well tested before any public releases and I must emphasize that I have not encountered any problems with the WordPress itself over the years because of bugs. When we add themes and plugins in to the equation, then we might face problems in form of compatibility issues in most cases. Complexity grows.

WordPress requires constant maintenance in form of updates, backups, cleanups, etc. for the files and MySQL database content. Updating everything is naturally very important from the security point of view alone. Much of this can be automated, but in the end a willing an able administrator is needed. For a simple blog or static site all this seems a bit too much work. With the hosted version, for example at WordPress.com, much of this administration is done for you. Naturally you still do take and test regular backups? Yes?

Seems like a lot of administrative work after all no matter how you play it, and with my own site, no one is paying for this work. And there just might be the problem for me to use it on this site.

Simplicity and speed with static

I have done quite a lot static sites too, when the content is quite stable and no database is there to be used. Static sites in many cases are fast and light, which is a very good thing nowadays when most websites are consumed via mobile devises. Static sites also avoid many security issues which are related to database handling. Possible problem with static sites is, that as the page count rises, complexity once again grows, and maintaining and updating the site gets more and more laborious. Do not worry though, in comes the Static Site Generators.

Pelican, Static Site Generator of my choice

Static Site Generator is a program run on local computer, which generates a complete website based on input content and page templates. Input text can be typed for example in Markdown format as I do. As the name suggests, resulting site is just static content, without any databases or dynamic resource calls. Content can be then deployed to basically any web server.

As with content management systems, static site generators are not short of choices. Worth a look are at least the excellent Octopress which runs on Ruby, and Python-run Nikola and Pelican.

Because I am familiar with Python and use it in various projects already, my choise after some testing was Pelican. Pelican is a mature and ever developing tool with many plugins to further expand its capabilities.