Goodbye WordPress, Hello Hugo

This week made the decision to open my web development relationship with WordPress and see what else the world has to offer. While WordPress was a great for dipping my feet into this field, build up some great relationships with my clients supporting their sites, and having something with an easy to use interface, let’s be very honest here. WordPress isn’t perfect.

Half of the time I’m working on WordPress issues, I’m not even working on building more beautiful or functional websites. Instead, I’m sitting and trying to troubleshoot what change or incompatibility broke everything and took a client’s live website offline. Big yikes. MySQL databases no doubt have their place. They’re great for storing large amounts of data and drawing relationships between them, and I use it for my electoral analysis research for that very purpose. PHP is messy, but has it’s place.

Simply put, your nonprofit, small business, or blog almost certainly doesn’t need to have these complex, resource heavy applications driving everything your user sees. Unless you’re running a social network or a high traffic online store, having a server pull assets from a million directions and compile them into a webpage every time a user pulls up your site or navigates between pages is wasteful and inefficient. Likewise – if your company is operating a site that truly requires that unique user experience, WordPress isn’t going to be enough, and another equally heavy plugin is going to be doing the heavy lifting, and introducing new vulnerabilities to your system while you’re at it.

Static Site Generators (also known as SSGs) are what I’m now interested in learning more about and becoming more comfortable with. I moved this website over from WordPress hosted on a DigitalOcean droplet to a site generated locally with Hugo and hosted on GitHub pages. It’s remarkably faster, my hosting costs went from $10/mo to the price of my domain renewal, and since my website is a collection of human-readable code, rather than complex database running remotely, so I can edit it online and commit my changes with Git, preview my changes before I make them, and revert to a previous version if need be.

I’m really excited to keep playing around with this software and see where it goes. Theme development seems like a thing I’ll need to put some work into before I start converting any client sites over to this format, but continually learning is something to be excited about.

That being said, I’m starting a new job soon, and am unsure how much time I’ll truly have to commit to this. Here’s to learning! Unlike previous webdev projects, this hopefully won’t cost me anything but my time.