There are two main parts to building a website. The first one is about creating the content and the second is about using your favoured CMS. The CMS brings together your content with the theme you want. The result is a website where your visitors can see, read and also go through.
What is a Static Site Generator (SSG)?
A Static Site Generator helps developers create a fast, lightweight static site.
With an SSG. You can create a functional and visually appealing static site in a fraction of the time. It uses templates and raw data for a Headless CMS. With no time wasted on coding everything manually through HTML.
Static means the site shows the same content to everyone. Contrary to dynamic content, which offers different versions of the same website to your site users.
The advantage of static websites is their simplicity and speed. As they are lightweight and don’t overload the servers. Also, they are safer, as they need a smaller infrastructure, and their customisation options are endless.
There are many static site generators here, and I picked these 6 generators you can choose if you want to.
Probably the most beloved static site generator, Gatsby. This SSG uses React and WebPack to compile static HTML and CSS.
They have a robust plugin network as well, which gives developers the flexibility to customise their projects to their exact needs. Plugins that range from adding eCommerce solutions to pulling data from headless CMSs and integrating Google Analytics and more.
The second SSG in the list is written in Go. Hugo offers an exceptionally fast page build, an extensive theming system and the ability to output your content in multiple formats.
This static site generator is extremely user friendly, and it doesn’t take many configurations before you have the website up and running.
Hugo also has an enthusiastic community around this project. Which leads to a well-maintained code base with the quick development of new features.
The standout features with Hugo includes full i18n support, shortcodes for Markdown, and built-in templates. Which can be used to set up Google Analytics or SEO. It can preview your site using the live-reload server. With it simple resizing of images, all will lead to a wonderful developer experience.
Its feature-heavy tendency makes it enterprise-ready. However, it doesn’t have plugin support which limits customisation. This static site generator is well equipped to create fast content-heavy marketing websites, eCommerce websites. But as well as mobile apps.
From launching in 2018, Gridsome has had a wide adoption from the Vue.js community. This SSG aims to do what Gatsby did for React. It generates static HTML and rehydrates it into a Vue.js SPA when its loads in the browser.
As Gridsome has a Universal GraphQL layer, which pulls data from headless CMS’, databases, APIs, and Markdown sources.
Gridsome generates static PWAs. This means that sites are optimised for speed and SEO. Wit the rich plugin eco-system that allows for customisation and flexibility depending on your project, without losing the benefits of the core product. You can also create your own plugins. Giving you endless possibilities of connecting new systems.
Gridsome SSG hopes to take advantage of the loyal JAMStack community to sculpt itself in the static site generator limelight. It has a great collection of starters, that will get devs up and running quickly for a variety of projects from eCommerce sites, event pages, personal portfolios.
Next.js empowers devs to create performant websites. Both in terms of speed and SEO. And with a number of optimisations to offer amazing lighthouse scores from the start. This framework enables you to build sites, eCommerce sites, and blogs where your content will grow.
It’s highly customisable and has a wide range of features from hot reloading to built-in Sass Support. Next.js is easy to connect a headless CMS to Next.js. Which will give you more power to content editors to update your content on your site.
Launched in 2016. Nuxt.js focuses on creating the most satisfactory experience possible for devs. Through creating a easier, faster, static site generator. All based in Vue.js, and using tooling like Webpack, node.js, and Babel.js.
Nuxt.js uses a powerful, modular architecture that can connect to headless CMS’, REST API or GraphQL end-points, but also CSS frameworks.
It supports server-side rendering out of the box. Which makes your site faster, more SEO performant. And a stronger user experience. Also, it has plugins that increase the customisability of your web app.
So Nuxt.js can generate a static website based on your Vue app. Giving you the benefit of a universal app, but without a server.
Probably the longest static site generator option you can find, Jekyll is one of the mainstays. Launched in 2008. Its simplicity enables developers to quickly create a website that is most often used for marketing websites, personal projects/portfolio and even eCommerce websites.
This SSG is written in Ruby. It takes content, renders Markdown, or Textile and Liquid templates. and generates a static site. Jekyll can also be linked to a headless CMS. That means content editors can enter and edit content without having the knowledge of how to code or asking the dev team for help.
The goal of this SSG is to maintain its simplicity, but while still being flexible enough to create modern experiences. Also, it can attribute some of its popularity as it can be integrated with Github Pages.
Making Jekyll the preferred choice for many smaller projects. You can pair this generator with its extensive plugin directory to find Jekyll to be flexible and efficient.