An overhaul of The Communicators Club’s web presence has arrived, and it’s more than skin deep. The updated website has swapped WordPress for a more lightweight and secure solution: a static site generator.
Familiar features, including several that had gone AWOL from the previous TCC site, are now present:
- Sitewide search functionality;
- Email newsletter subscription form;
- Proper pagination;
- Simplified menu/navigation structure;
- Ability to socially share articles;
- TCC social media icons;
- Contact form.
There are aesthetic edges to buff and copy to update, but we hope you like the look, flow and multiple entry points to key information.
Our renewed website is coupled with a call to all who’ve been connected to The Communicators Club: We need your content! Please consider submitting pieces that detail your personal best practices, address key or upcoming changes to your career/business niche, or offer an apolitical opinion on hot-button communications/marketing issues. (It’s also an opportunity to plug your organization while educating our visitors.) Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although WordPress powers more than a third of the world’s websites, long-term upkeep presents challenges. That’s especially true when the administrators are time-crunched volunteers with varying skill sets whose tenures tend to be brief. Undocumented code changes addle incoming webmasters. Insecure plugins are ripe for compromise. Orphaned or older themes and frameworks become more brittle with each WordPress update. And outdated PHP versions leave WP servers open to exploits.
Much of this can be avoided by working with your web host to keep on top of updates, regularly auditing plugins, and replacing any non-custom theme that WordPress parent Automattic considers “deprecated.” No WP site should be running without a reputable security suite such as Sucuri or Wordfence.
That brings us to the benefits of a static site generator. (We’re employing battle-tested Jekyll for the upgraded site.) SSGs are being adopted widely by small-to-medium startups for several reasons:
Security: The absence of databases and vulnerable plugins greatly reduces SSG websites’ attack surface. As the 800-pound gorilla of content management systems, WordPress sites are prime targets of malware purveyors and cyber/ransomware hacks. (Check your Wordfence dashboard and be astounded by the daily number of breach attempts.)
Speed: Beyond the digital weight-loss benefits listed above, SSGs output just what the acronym implies: a “static” site of mostly HTML files similar to what ruled the web when AOL discs were filling your front-yard mailbox. With Google and other search engines’ algorithms now prioritizing page-loading time, static sites have a baked-in SEO advantage.
Portability: Unlike WordPress and its CMS brethren, a static website is free of entanglements to its host server. (Ask the sorry soul tasked with transferring an entire WordPress installation intact.) Just grab the site folder and upload it to your new host.
Customization: Today’s static sites don’t have to be barebones, as the bullet list at the top of this article indicates. Commenting systems, and scalable ecommerce platforms can also be implemented, if needed. Google Analytics is easily embedded.
(Also worth noting is Jekyll’s featherweight working environment. Nearly all of the design, development and testing of this site was accomplished on an un-mothballed 2007 Mac Mini.)
It would be dishonest to dispute there’s a considerable learning curve involved with Jekyll and its kin; WordPress will always appeal to those seeking a hassle-free process for getting a website up and running. But constant vigilance is the price.
Article author T.J. Gaudet is a veteran journalist, editor, content creator and freelance web designer/developer. Rescuing, replacing, securing and optimizing compromised WordPress installations is a specialty.