An agony aunt picking up phones to answer Next.js website related questions

Website Agony Aunt

A quick intro

We've come across a lot of content on the web, and frankly a good chunk of it was incorrect, overcomplicated and outdated. That's why we've created this: an expert driven hot take on questions in the JAMstack community.

I've heard JAMstack websites are mostly static, does that mean they're difficult to work with? I don't want to have to wait 10 minutes to see changes

This was a real hum-dinger of a question and the answer isn't as simple as yes or no. From our experience and inherited projects, we've seen a lot of doozies. Our advice is that no JAMstack websites absolutely aren't difficult to work with as a content creator. That being said, this is entirely dependent on has the site has been built correctly; have real-time page previews been thought about when building the site; and has the editing experience even been considered.

Providing all the above has been catered for, then JAMstack sites are incredible, the content editing experience far exceeds that of Wordpress or Craft (because of how unopinionated and flexible it is), and they're near instant with changes. We'd always advise asking potential agencies to show you how the editing experience is as ultimately, you will be the one editing the sites and you will be the one that has to use the Content Management System.

So to answer no they're fast and flexible, but, you will need to ensure they're built correctly or you're in for a bad time with editing your content.

I keep getting cheap quotes for Wordpress websites, what's the real difference between a Wordpress website and the alternative

Well well well, let's start this question by having a look at what Wordpress started out as and what the future looks like for it.

Wordpress started just shy of 10 years ago as a blogging platform. It uses PHP and most of its pages are dynamic. In laymens: it's old, it's opinionated, and it's using a language which has had more security issues than I've had hot dinners.

That being said, it's not a terrible platform. It's fantastic (in our opinion) at one thing and one thing only. Testing a concept with the minimal amount of time and cost involved. For example: if you have a budget of £500 and you are at day one of your business, this is the route I would take. It'll be a bit of a hack job and will probably fall to pieces after a year, but it's a cheap and cheerful solution.

However, if you're looking for a much better solution, we would advise saving up and having a budget in the thousands to ensure you're getting something that really has value, and is more performant, more specialised and tailored to your business. Cough, cough.

I want to start an ecommerce website to sell things, should I use WooCommerce, Shopify or something like Squarespace?

Right, this is probably the easiest question out of any we get. It's Shopify. Don't use any other tool for starting an ecommerce, don't build it custom. The reason being is because it's a "closed platform". Usually this term is used negatively because it means you can't change and swap out the inner workings, but in this case, that's exactly what you want. A predictable, incredible user experience platform that does a lot of things behind the scenes most platforms don't include as standard.

I'm going to list them, but don't go too far down the rabbit hole

  • Automatically optimises images and serves them in the best format
  • Automatically adds google markup for better search ranking
  • Focuses on collections and automation, to easily create awesome UX
  • Create components to hot-swap content around your site
  • Isolate themes and fonts/colors to make your platform easily stylable

All of the above are incredible features and there's probably a lot more that we've missed off. So in short: use Shopify, spend your time and efforts on the theme and your product shots and get in touch. Okay, maybe not the last one if you don't want to.

Hosting? What hosting is decent, we've been quoted £200 a month, do I need dedicated hosting servers?

Another quick and easy question. Here's how to work out what hosting you should be using.

If you are using Wordpress/Craft/Drupal 👉 Siteground

For pretty much anything else 👉 Vercel

There's a few outliers to the above but this pretty much covers it. They're both near enough the cheapest for price and convenience, so we use these every time.

How do I get to the front of Google?

Oh boy, this one comes up a lot, like a lot, a lot. I'm going to start by ruining your day. The short answer is: by spending endless time pushing relevant, interesting blog posts and website updates, getting incredible backlinks and ensuring your website is as fast as possible - use this

What's the long answer?

The long answer is, there's no easy and guaranteed way to get to the front of Google. It's a long arduous and pretty much gruelling process that very few can stomach. The trickiest aspect of this (from speaking with SEO experts and SEO magicians), is that a lot of misinformation is floating around this topic. Our best advice would be to find an incredible local SEO agency, such as the team at We Are Marketable, and focus on keeping your website up to date and constantly adding relevant, well thought out long form (not 50 words) content. There's more to this, and we'll be releasing a blog post soon.