Dusty Candland | Wed Apr 24 2019 Static Site Problems

Static Site Problems

When I started looking into the JAMstack trend, it wasn't called that yet, I had some big questions. I mean static is great, but what about contact forms, comments, and search? I wasn't worried about content as a developer, but for clients, how would they manage content?

Remember the days when all content was updated through a "Webmaster", that's obviously not gonna work now.

There are good solutions to all these things. And they're getting better all the time.

Here's what I did when I moved my personal blog from WordPress to a static site.

I went with Jekyll because I'd used it before and it's built in Ruby. Gatsby seems to be really popular now as well as Hugo. Go with something built in a language you're comfortable with, at least that's how I approached it.

I was already using Disqus for comments, so I just went with that. There are some other good options out there that'd I'd look into if I was starting from scratch. Like CommentBox.

Ok, that was easy. Now for the contact form. Just posting my email address would probably work fine, but part of this experiment was to see how this might work for businesses. I thought about building something as is always my first inclination.

Stopping myself, I searched for what was out there and found [FormSpree]. They have a great free option and it's built to solve this exact problem! Easy sign up and integration and that problem was solved.

For the most part that's all I really needed, so I made the switch!

I missed the search, even though I'm the primary searcher on my blog, I wanted it back. And again, after stopping myself from just building something, I searched for what was out there.

This time I came up short. There was Algolia, which looked awesome and I'd heard great things. However, after looking at it closer, it wasn't what I wanted.

What I wanted was something as easy and simple and FormSpree. Automatically indexing my content, simple integration. Basically set it and forget it.

I searched more and didn't find anything, so giving into my developer instincts I built CloudSh search.

Great! I have forms, comments, and search. For me that's all I need. But I kept wondering, could this work for non-developers?

The last step was content management. A CMS was needed. Looking around there are two ways people are handling this problem.

One is by having a headless system with an API to pull in content. Headless systems don't have a front end that displays the content. Think WordPress admin without the public WordPress website. This is actually an option people are using.

The other option provides a nice way to manage content by updating the source code for your site directly. This is important because your content is yours and stays with the code for your site. This is what I wanted.

There are a lot of CMS options. Almost too many. The one I went with is Forestry.io. It manages content using your source code, the second option.

Frankly, I was skeptical, but after giving it a try it worked great. There is some setup that needs to happen, but once that's done your ready to go.

I believe this way of building sites is going to continue to grow. The benefits are too big to ignore. The biggest downside is that you need a developer or some development background to get things setup and going. This is changing and there are companies working to remove that requirement.

It's an exciting time for web development!

Want to explore what's out there? Start at the New Dynamic