JAMStack vs Wordpress: Which is Better for Your Project

Wordpress is doing its best to keep up, but some developers feel the need for faster, lighter and more secure websites. This is why they came up with JAMStack. So is it time to switch things up and throw your old blog away for good? That depends.

Deborah Happ - Technical Researcher
JAMStack vs Wordpress: Which is Better for Your Project

Wordpress has been around for 17 years and helped shape the internet into what it is today. Launched in 2003, by Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little, it aimed to be “an elegant, well-architectured personal publishing system”, according to their own blog. Hosting almost one third of the internet’s webpages, from blogs and news sites to online stores, Wordpress is synonyms to content creating on the web today.

So why would anyone want to change it? Well, for one thing, the Internet has changed a lot from the Geosites-filled anarchy of 2003. Connections are faster, screens are different sizes and content has become heavier and heavier. Plus, most people access the internet through their smartphones today, which didn’t even exist in the early 2000s. Security is another of Wordpress’ largest drawbacks. Since it is such a large platform, it has become an easy target for hackers, requiring constant – and often buggy – safety updates.

Wordpress is doing it’s best to keep up, but some developers feel the need for faster, lighter and more secure websites. This is why they came up with JAMStack. So is it time to switch things up and throw your old blog away for good? That depends.

Wordpress uses a LAMP Stack approach to web development, which uses a Linux operating system, an Apache HTTP Server, a MySQL database management system, and the PHP programming language. People can request pages through their browsers, have the PHP process their requests, and query its database to show content on the page.

Wordpress is the perfect platform for content producers and news sites, who have to edit several post content on the fly and don’t need or want to understand the specifics of coding or web development. Wordpress uses a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) content editor where users can easily include images and videos, as well as edit their text however they want. After being on the top for so long, the Wordpress community has developed a huge ecosystem with thousands of blog layouts and plug-ins to customize different types of websites depending on the users’ needs. The bottom line is that Wordpress is easy to use and people are just used to it.

If you’ve ever worked with Wordpress before, though, you’ll know about its drawbacks. According to Sucuri’s 2019 Website Threat Research Report, in 2019, Wordpress became even more infected than in 2018, growing from 90% to 94% in infection ratings. This great amount of attacks shows how insecure the platform has become and how much their users have to search for safety packets and updates.

Source: https://sucuri.net/reports/2019-hacked-website-report/

Wordpress developers have to keep up with safety updates and renew their packets or entire software version to prevent hackers from stealing valuable information from or destabilizing their websites. Due to the monolithic architecture of Wordpress, where every structure depends on another, the constant security updates often break other pieces of the website and can be very bothersome to fix.

Speed is another problem with Wordpress, especially when we consider the end user experience. Though the website’s content loads immediately after being published, it has to be created every single time a user requests each link. The process of fetching data from the database and rendering it on the screen can take precious time that users aren’t willing to waste.

So basically:

Can JAMStack solve all of my problems?

Well, it can solve several. JAMStack is the modern approach to developing fast, secure and scalable websites. To understand how, we should take a look at its architecture. It uses Javascript as the main programming language, APIs instead of specific databases and prebuilt Markups as the delivery system. When a user requests something from the browser, Javascript will bring the pre rendered page up from one of its APIs, in a quicker process than would happen in Wordpress or any other LAMP Stack project.

Here is a comparison of how both architectures handle requests:

We have covered the benefits of the JAMStack approach in a previous article, where you can read about them in more depth. Just by looking at the illustration above, however, we see some of them. Speed, for example. JAMStack can retrieve data a lot faster than monolithic – or traditional – websites, since its journey is a lot shorter. JAMStack also pre-renders HTML before the page goes online, reducing latency.

Another great advantage of the JAMStack approach is its security. JAMStack decouples the frontend from the backend of web projects and only allows the end user to access its frontend, while the backend is all stored in APIs spread across several different servers. Because of these practices, web projects made with JAMStack are more difficult to attack. Pre-rendered HTML also helps with websites’ scalability. Due to the ready-served nature of a project’s pages, you don’t have to worry about bandwidth or traffic, so your website can grow on forever.

But JAMStack might not be for everybody. Though it does deliver much sought-after perks and is an excellent environment for developers, it just isn’t very user friendly for people who don’t code. There isn’t a WYSIWYG option yet and posts aren’t stored in easy to access databases. For laymen, it can feel difficult to navigate between one static site generator – such as Gatsby, Hugo or Jekyll –, another application to host it – like Netlify, AWS or Github Pages –, and yet more third-party APIs to include comments, payments and any other add-ons their project might need. On Wordpress, all of these resources are together in a single Monolithic website, where you can write, post and include whichever widgets you prefer.

A larger problem some content producers might have with JAMStack is the time it takes to update. Remember how every page is pre-rendered before going online? This process might take hours, sometimes even days. This is an issue some news outlets, for example, aren’t willing to deal with.

Put simply:

So who wins?

That depends on who will use your website. Bottom line is Wordpress is handier for content producers, who can control everything without having to code and are already used to that platform; while JAMStack is more convenient for developers. However, there are initiatives working around that problem and bringing the Wordpress platform and the JAMStack approach together. This is known as Headless Wordpress.

A few options for Headless Wordpress are Gatsby Cloud, Gatsby’s headless Wordpress plugin, that permits content producers to develop content in Wordpress, but deploy and build the actual blog post using Gatsby’s JAMStack content mesh. This way, content creators can use a platform they know and love, but their website will be faster and more efficient. There are several other static site plugins for Wordpress, used to secure websites and better their performance.

Whether you decide to build your website on Wordpress or using a JAMStack approach, Azion supports both environments. Through Azion Edge Application products, you can build web Applications to run on Azion’s edge computing platform, whether you need Azion Edge Functions for your serverless projects or Azion Edge Cache to accelerate delivery on your Wordpress site by caching content at the edge of the network, closer to your users.

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