The content management system (CMS) WordPress powers approximately 40% of today’s websites. This dynamic platform has proven to meet the needs of most organizations offering robust customization and a relatively straightforward backend that makes updating a site manageable for the average administrator. It is easy to use and is widely admired by both developers and content producers.

But new ways of creating sites are available, and clients have options. Building sites using a Jamstack architecture is beginning to gain traction among web developers. We’ve used it for our latest Manoverboard site, which will be launching soon, and we have deployed several Jamstack websites over the past year. As a framework, Jamstack has many advantages because it only uses what’s necessary for the needs of any given website. 

So, Jamstack vs. WordPress — if you’re building a new website, which one should you use?

First, what is Jamstack?

The Jamstack architecture is the opposite of the WordPress “all-in-one” approach. Think of it as a “minimalist” approach to web development. Instead of asking the Content Management System (CMS) to take care of everything from copyediting to sales, Jamstack allows us to appoint expertly designed services for each job and enable them to work together.

The first step is to choose a Static Site Generator (SSG), which builds the files that a website visitor sees. WordPress uses a database to build a page in a browser whenever a visitor opens it, With the Jamstack, there is no database — the page is already built and sitting on a server ready to be pushed to the browser. The development team is usually responsible for choosing an SSG based on project needs. At Manoverboard, we have decided to use Jekyll, a widely supported open-source Static Site Generator for Jamstack.

The next step is to choose a Content Management System (CMS) based on any copy editor requirements. There are many Jamstack-friendly CMSs to explore. We’ve come to love CloudCannon as it pairs fantastically with Jekyll and has multiple client-facing editor styles. 

After making the decisions above,  you can further enhance your website by bringing in third-party services, such as forms, shopping carts, customer relationship management (CRM) systems and other APIs.

Manoverboard’s experience with Jamstack

For nearly 10 years, Manoverboard built nearly all of its client websites using WordPress. We started looking into the Jamstack architecture (specifically Jekyll) around 2019 when the Gutenberg editor changed WordPress. Since then, we have seen an increase in requests for Jamstack-based sites from our clients. Today, we build about 75% of our sites with WordPress, and the demand for Jamstack continues.

Jamstack vs. WordPress: what is the right choice for your organization?

Ultimately, the choice may come down to developer availability and budget. Most developers have learned to create WordPress websites, and finding one who can work on a WordPress site after launch is relatively easy. Many WordPress builds are less expensive because developers can use less costly and readily available themes and layout builders, speeding up the development process. (For the record, Manoverboard creates custom themes rather than using commercial ones.) These factors make WordPress sites easily adoptable for most organizations.

However, at Manoverboard, we have come to realize that WordPress is not always the best route— after all, websites are not one-size-fits-all. 

When Jamstack is a better fit

  • Your organization is already using third-party services, such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems, eCommerce or other API-based services.
  • You have highly specialized and specific needs that the Jamstack architecture can meet more efficiently. These may include: 
    • High-level security requirements
    • Performance, caching or hosting requirements
    • Accessibility, or other needs, within a content management system (CMS)
  • Your organization prioritizes environmental sustainability.

When WordPress is a better fit

  • Your team is already comfortable with a WordPress workflow or infrastructure at your organization.
  • Other developers beyond the initial build will need to work on your site (currently, more web developers are familiar with WordPress than Jamstack). 
  • You prefer an all-in-one approach. 
  • You currently depend upon and are not willing to part with WordPress-specific services or plugins. We find this is often the most critical factor in the decision-making process.

A developer’s perspective

Overall, learning to use the Jamstack architecture can be as complicated or as simple as you choose. Static site generators come in a wide range of complexities, and you can integrate third-party services through iFrames or API services. 

If you’re a developer familiar with WordPress, learning to use a static site generator such as Jekyll or Hugo might even come easily to you. Alternatively, JavaScript libraries and frameworks, like React or Vue, are high-demand technologies and can fit neatly into your next Jamstack project.

Jamstack is the jam, if you’re ready

We’re confident that the demand for Jamstack sites will grow, particularly as organizations look for novel ways to reduce their environmental footprint and push page performance. On the other hand, WordPress is not going away anytime soon and works exceedingly well for most situations. We’re committed to supporting our clients’ goals regardless of how they choose to build their sites. 

If you have questions about Jamstack or this post, we’d love to chat with you about it. Please reach out to us.