Why is everyone crazy about WordPress? Jul 8, 2017Views: 333
WordPress started out as a simple blogging platform, allowing bloggers to upload a theme and easily post blog posts without having to worry about technology.
No doubt WordPress can be used that way today, but in the 13 years since its release it has morphed from what originally was a fork of a blog platform ( b2/cafelog) into a content management system that drives well over 70 million websites.
There now over 50,000 free plugins, many thousands of free themes and so many more premium themes and plugins.
There are whole eco systems earning a living from WordPress.
So it is not surprising, that in 2017 the default answer to most web site questions is WordPress.
But there is a downside, WordPress is now so powerful and feature rich it has some ongoing management overheads that are simply not required by many businesses.
Businesses that only have one person updating their website and only need a 'brochure website' and a 'blog' don't actually need the power and capabilities of WordPress. Only if you are going to need e-commerce or membership sites or other multi user login type systems do you start to benefit.
The cost of running an HTML only site is very low, fast hosting is cheap or even free, and security issues virtually non existent.
The problem is that building responsive HTML is a bit of an art form and the challenge for most single operator businesses not into web design is insurmountable.
The solution would be to have themes, like WordPress, that can be generated into static HTML sites and for those themes to support 'post' and 'page' structures in the same way as WordPress.
In 2008 the founder of GitHub created Jekyll, a blog aware static website generator.
Jekyll started the trend towards static site generators. There are quite a few - see https://www.staticgen.com/
However, the generator that captured my imagination, is Hugo ( 2nd in that list ), as a WordPress dev I could see the similarities to WP and advantages of not having all that bloat ( and hosting cost ).
Also Hugo is developed in GoLang, a language I happen to like, a lot, and some of the more sophisticated elements of building themes is GoLang syntax. But here is the rub, you don't need to know GoLang or HTML or anything fancy, just the ability to follow instructions and you can build a site based on free, responsive themes.
OK there is nowhere near the choice available in WordPress, but there area few good ones - https://themes.gohugo.io/ - and if you know a bit about CSS they are as simple to customise.
Post and page content is written in Mark Down language https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markdown which simplifies the syntax. Great for fast easy composition once you know the simple syntax. Obviously not great if you want sophisticated 'page builder' layouts. If you want that - jump back to WP and something like Beaver Builder.
So for simple websites that have a blog and only need one semi technical literate user then Hugo is a tool to consider.
I built this site to use an SEO domain I had, you can see that the theme is actually a port of WP Magazine theme ( I didn't write it )
Nothing fancy here but it illustrates the point that a static site can be a blog.
To create a new post I simply edit a post file on my local machine and then use 'git' to push it to Google Cloud Storage which in terms of hosting costs pennies a year ( I could use AWS or Firebase free tier or indeed a GitHub/GitLab/BitBucket free static site all of which will outperform most shared hosting accounts with WP on)
I have built several 'personal' sites in Hugo and also building my own 'theme' but to date I have only built one 'commercial' site using Hugo, it is again a simple site, where the end use would NEVER touch it even if it was WP as they just can about cope with email.
This at least allows me to build an inexpensive site, from both build ( using a pre built theme ) and running costs ( no upgrades etc ) in fact I don't even need to worry about backups - as I have the local files - that get pushed through GitLab private repo to production - so everything is version controlled and in multi locations.
I have enjoyed working with Hugo, although at least in the short term it is unlikely to replace my WordPress income, if you think you might need a static HTML site, why not get in touch with me at https://locally.co.uk/
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