Are static site generators the future?

2 min read
Watb Team
A person working at a laptop

In an article for Smashing Magazine, Mathias Biilmann Christensen proposes that Static Site Generators are the “next big thing”. This article actually reflected on some issues we’ve been thinking about with the sites we’ve been building using WordPress for the last couple of years.

Mathias touches on issues such as performance and complexity as the pitfalls of CMS’s such as WordPress and Joomla. It’s true, we can’t get the performance we want from WordPress out of the box – we have to resort to tricky caching/optimisation plugins to get the CMS to respond in a reasonable time. We’re successful with this, but it does beg the question of whether performance is a serious underlying problem with generating HTML server-side using database driven CMS’s and dynamic code.

WordPress itself is also vulnerable to exploits, it now powers nearly a quarter of the web, a staggering statistic that also opens it up to attack from hackers. Because static sites are not database driven, the level of complexity is much reduced making them less vulnerable.

Mathias also shows us in his article how development of static site generators has shot up dramatically in the last few months – it seems clear that this is a method of generating static sites that is gaining in popularity.

What is a static site generator?

Effectively, a static site generator is much like creating a static site in the traditional sense (HTML/CSS/JS) except that they keep content and markup separately. Usually, this is achieved by creating content using Markdown and then creating templates (with asset pipelines). The generators then combine the two to create a static site that can then be deployed or uploaded. You can even generate the site live on your server if you choose.

It’s important to distinguish between static site generators and flat file CMS systems. A flat file CMS cannot generate a static site, and always keeps its templates and contents separate.

Are they the future?

At this moment in time I’m a little more hesitant – most static site generators do not have a GUI element. Markdown is all well and good, but most general users will prefer the user interface they encounter when using a system such as WordPress. WordPress is also much easier to set up and install, there’s no need to have knowledge of the command line.

Where I see the generators coming in useful is allowing us as an agency the ability to bridge that gap between static sites and WordPress sites – many of our clients need to be able to update regularly, but prefer for us to do it for them. In this case, a static site generator is a great match. We’ll definitely be trying them out in future, but for anything to come close to WordPress, it will need to appeal to all users, not just the tech savvy.

Social Media Management Software

In order to promote your business and reach consumers that spend an entire 24 hours a week online, you need to make sure that you have a viable social media strategy in place.

By posting unique and interesting content on your social media platforms, and by actively engaging with followers, you can start to turn this into a funnel for generating leads.

In order to stay on top of your social media strategy, it’s important to have some form of social media management software to do some of the heavy lifting. Software such as this is imperative for scheduling, tracking and monitoring social media content.

At its best, social media management software can help you not only plan your content months in advance, but also remain reactive by letting you tune into ongoing news stories or trending topics.

Screenshot of Hootsuite's homepage

We recommend: Hootsuite

There are a whole bunch of social media management companies out there and all of them offer roughly the same sort of package but Hootsuite is the only one that offers an actually free service (as opposed to just a free trial period).

They do try to hide it on their website though so make sure you follow this link in order to get to the right page.

The free version of this software lets you:

  • Manage up to three social media profiles from a choice of channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn
  • Schedule up to 30 posts in advance at any point in time
  • Track follower growth, likes and comments
  • Integrate two RSS feeds in order to find and share compelling content
  • Access Hootsuite’s online help center and community forum

Of course, there’s also a number of paid-for packages that you can buy from Hootsuite that give you access to a great number of services including higher ad spend budgets, automated post scheduling and custom analytics.

But if you’re a small business looking to get started, the free version of the software should be comprehensive enough to allow you to get your social media strategy in motion.

Website Tracking Software

We’ve said before that the secret to a successful lead generation strategy is to keep analysing and refining your methods. Well, website tracking software is the best way to conduct this analysis.

By digging into the analytics of your visitors’ actions, you can start to gain a better picture of why people come to your site, what they want from it, what they dislike about it and how you can improve upon their experience next time.

There are a wide variety of services that can fall into the category of website tracking software, including heatmaps, funnels, user polls, surveys, visitor recordings and more.

Basically, any kind of software that collects data about the ways in which your visitors interact with your site can be considered website tracking software.

Screenshot of Hotjar's homepage

We recommend: Hotjar

Whereas there are a multitude of smaller software companies that focus in on just one website tracking service, Hotjar offers an array of useful tools.

Hotjar tools include:

  • Click, move, scroll, download and share heatmaps that can also be split by device type
  • Visitor recordings that allow you to replay sessions of real site visitors
  • Conversion funnels that identify on which page and at which step the most visitors are leaving your site
  • Form analysis that can help you to discover which fields take too long to fill, which are left blank and why your visitors abandon your form and page
  • A customizable widget that allows you to create pop-up feedback polls
  • Responsive surveys that can be distributed through web links and emails, or featured your site just before your visitors abandon the page in order to discover what their concerns are
  • The ability to recruit test users in order to get instant feedback on your site

Hotjar’s free service is able to collect data from 2000 page views a day and will give you access to up to 300 visitor recordings and 3 heatmaps, forms, funnels, polls and surveys. Unlimited users can be added to your account and Hotjar will also store your data for a full year.

While we’d normally recommend free services when possible, it’s probably worth paying for Hotjar’s Plus plan to begin with.

For just under £25 a month you can collect data from 10,000 page views a day and have unlimited services and reports. Plus there’s even a 15-day free trial for you to test out whether you like their software or not.


Lead generation doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavour.

What’s important is that you put real effort into all of your interactions with potential leads - whether that’s through educational and informative blog posts, social media interactions or even just a chat on the phone.

If you believe in your business’ ability to help its customers then all you have to do is let that shine through.

Ultimately, these tools are just there to help you meet potential leads on their level. The rest is up to you.

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