The worst way to build a website.

Article — There are a lot of good ways to build a website. Unfortunately, nobody seems to remember what they are. Our Lead Developer Chris takes a deep dive into our methodology behind making the right technology choices for your business.

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If you're in the market for web development, chances are high that you have been pitched a Headless CMS along with some variation of the "JAMStack" such as React, Vue, NextJS or Svelte.

While these are all valuable products in their own particular ways, for multi-page, content-driven websites they simply cannot beat the performance, flexibility and value for money that more traditional server-side technologies such as Craft CMS can provide.

What is a Headless CMS?

A Headless Content Management System is a content editor without a website that, according to the sales pitch, "frees" your project from the constraints of more "traditional" CMS systems.

The problem with headless CMSs, however, is that they offer nothing of real value and always incur some additional cost; either a monetary cost in the form of expensive cloud software or a technical cost in the form of additional infrastructure that must be hosted and maintained.

Time and time again our experience shows us that separating content from presentation is magical thinking. For a website to have any chance at being performant, maintainable, and cost-effective while at the same time hitting all of our client’s presentation and content editing requirements, both the website and its supporting content structure must be designed and built as one.

Craft CMS can function as both a "traditional" CMS and a headless CMS all at the same time, serving as many digital channels (software, mobile apps etc.) as you need.

React (or Vue or Svelte) and the JAMStack

These terms all refer to a development methodology that employs a Javascript framework to generate a website, and then some other application (typically a headless CMS) to provide the content for that website to display. For multi-page, content-driven websites this is more than just a silly idea; it by nature adds complexity and cost for no tangible benefit to you or the users of your website.

Experience shows us that employing Javascript-based frameworks along with headless content management software rarely, if ever, works in the client's favour. Without a highly skilled and fully dedicated development team on hand at all times, these technologies more often than not end up in broken functionality, slow and unmaintainable websites, and regret.

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Even the best Javascript frameworks simply cannot provide any tangible performance gains over a well-configured full-page caching scheme and a properly configured Craft application server.

What's so good about Craft CMS?

Craft CMS is a "traditional" Content Management System in the sense that it provides both the backend of a website, such as the content editor, as well as the frontend, such as the homepage.

This makes it simple to host, deploy and maintain because it's one application in one environment, not multiple applications spread across different infrastructure.

Also, by coupling full-page caching and best-in-class security practices with the most flexible content model around, Craft CMS offers all of the benefits claimed by Javascript-based stacks with a fraction of the complexity — and far outperforms any headless CMS on the market for editor experience and flexibility.

The best way to build a website

Start simple and build upwards with an agency that won't try to sell you on overhyped, developer-first technologies and methods that have proven over and over again to be lemons in the wild.

Focus purely on what you want your website to be and do, and choose your CMS solution based on the editing experience that it provides.

We firmly believe that Craft CMS is the best way to build multi-page, content-driven websites, so if you are looking for a web agency to get you online with your best foot forward, please reach out to find out more.