Static site generation - building powerful websites at lightspeed

Here at Arrow, we're big fans of content managment systems (CMS), particullaly Drupal. It's exceptionally powerful, flexible and gives the client a nice point and click interface to keep their website up to date. Setting all this up to look great and work well obviously takes time. So what if a client doesn't need to make many changes to their website and what if a client needs a great website as quickly as possible.

When Cumbria Storage Solutions approached us we asked about requirements, usage and budget. In this case, nothing justified the use of CMS, so we looked at a more appropriate solution. We proposed the use of a static site generator, which (in theory), would allow us to rapidly build out a high performance website exactly how we wanted. Using 11ty as our generator, we're able to use npm to manage all our assets and build process - this gives us an incredibly powerful and frictionless development work flow.

A static site is also really easy to host, with no intention of delivering a half-baked hosting solution we used AWS S3 backed storage which enables the site to be delivered over the Cloudfront content delivery network. From a visitors point of view, the site loads and responds rapidly. From the client's point of view, the website is virtually 100% available, can deal with any amount of traffic and doesn't cost much to host.

After deploying the website, we were also asked to look at some search engine optimisation (SEO) for the site. Self storage Cumbria and self storage Carlisle are highly contested keywords. However, the static site generator sets us up perfectly to optimise the site. We're able to make any changes required, whether this be meta tag changes, content changes or site optimisation. In terms of speed, we've managed to get a perfect desktop score in Google page insights and a high (85/100) mobile score (we need to clean up some JavaScript to make this perfect). Having a fast site directly impacts SEO but also your customer bounce rate, visitors no longer wait for a site to load, they'll just go elsewhere.

In summary, we were exceptionally happy with the power and flexibily offered to us as web developers by using a static site generator. We believe from the clients point of view, they've got a great website that loads incredibly quickly. This is a solution we're going to offer moving forwards, we understand it's not appropriate for all scenarios and obviously the client cannot update their own website.

If you want to have a look at the end result, please checkout Cumbria Storage Solutions - especially if you're looking for some self storage units.