Static sites can be the solution

Simon Wood at London Web

“We build complex dynamic websites as a first port of call but these are slow, have issues with scaling and can be complex to host. I believe we should more often look to static sites first.”

The speaker at Future Insights’ London Web meetup last Thursday (18 July 2014) was Simon Wood, Head of Technology and Innovation at Holiday Extras.

Simon’s arguments against complexity held a strong resonance for UK universities, often struggling under the weight of slow technology infrastructures and the deteriorating performance of the bought-in content management system. I noticed this week’s ‘Show & Tell’ roundup from the Bath Digital Team included a talk ‘Getting Served (Why dynamic websites suck)’.

Simon talked about how a static site doesn’t mean static content, how databases don’t scale and the failures of CMS WYSIWYGs. He stressed the importance of site speed and pointed to reports from Google, Amazon and Yahoo highlighting real data on the less of revenue from minor (400/500ms) decreases in site speed.

Highlighting Medium and, he suggested a move towards the idea that we need more simplicity in content and presentation. In particular, the increasing importance of mobile over desktop clearly demands simplicity and speed.

The second half of Simon’s talk was a whistle-stop tour of services available for anyone moving to a static site model. CSS pre compilers (SASS, {less}), javascript libraries (jQuery, Underscore.js, Backbone.js, AngularJS), tooling (Yeoman, Gulp, Grunt, Smushit, Google Page Speed), client side widgets (Google Maps, social media buttons, Disqus), static site generators (Movable Type, nanoc, jekyll and 284 others), copywriting (Markdown,,,, and hosting (Github, AWS S3, Bitballoon).

London Web meet on the third Thursday of every month.



Web Manager for the College of Arts and Law at the University of Birmingham.

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