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What is JAMstack and Why Should You Care as an Editor?

Gabriella Pirrone
Gabriella Pirrone
September 13, 2019

Have you heard of JAMstack yet? The term "JAMstack" came to life in 2017 and since then has become quite mainstream in the developer community. JAMstack was born out of a need for websites to be fast, primarily in terms of performance. Developers also found that it was much faster for them to develop with a JAMstack as well, which was a huge bonus.

If we look at this from an editor's point of view, web site performance is super important for not only content but also SEO. It is even more critical for UX, conversion and general customer happiness. As soon as your users hit that back button, your bounce rate skyrockets. According to Unbounce, "sites that load in five seconds (compared to those that load in 19) see 70% longer average sessions." To achieve better performance, developers needed to look at different tools that would work together to boost speed while still maintaining a high level of security. This not only benefited developers but was a massive advantage for editors as well.  

I was noticing that there was far more information about the benefits of JAMstack for developers. Instead, let's further explore the benefits of JAMstack from an editor's perspective. 

What is JAMstack? 

So, what does JAMstack mean? Three concepts make up JAMstack: JavaScript, APIs, and Markup. JAMstack was brought to life by Mathias Biilmann, the Co-founder of Netlify, a cloud computing company that offers (free) hosting and serverless backend services for static websites. The official JAMstack website defines the term as "a modern architecture — Create fast and secure sites and dynamic apps with JavaScript, APIs, and prerendered Markup, served without web servers." 

The Difference Between a Static vs. Dynamic Website 

Understanding the difference between two main types of websites - static and dynamic will also help you know what JAMstack means and how speed and efficiency plays an important role. A static website is usually written in plain HTML and what is in the code of the page that is displayed to the user. A dynamic site is one that is written using a server-side scripting language. 

There are lots of problems with a dynamic site because it's in a constant state of change, and when that happens, you can introduce errors. Since JAMstack uses a static framework, content is pieced together and completed before you deploy it to the webserver. Basically, the webserver has physical HTML files just sitting there waiting and when you request your homepage on your website, for example, the webserver doesn't have to do any processing internally in order to piece it all together, it just returns the HTML.  

The Top 3 Benefits of JAMstack for Editors 

  • JAMstack has low to zero hosting cost  A lower cost for hosting means better uptime, no processing power and you can rely on a scalable CDN (content delivery network). You don't need a web farm of dedicated servers which also means you don't need to pay for expensive hardware. Hosting of static files are cheap or basically free. This means you don't have to pay for costly databases, web servers, or a load balancer all you need is a CDN. Saving your stakeholders and customers thousands of dollars on servers and processing power will definitely make them happy.

  • A JAMstack website will never go down As an editor, there's always a worry that when you publish new content, something will happen, or your site will go down unexpectedly (maybe even in the middle of the night). JAMstack takes that worry away. Not having to manage a site, means less support. Instead, you can use your resources to increase user engagement, increasing the speed of your websites user experience (UX) and design experience (DX).
  • JAMstack makes developers happier Every change requires a deployment which is a good thing because that means every change can be vetted either through an automated or manual process before something goes 'live'. It also means that your site can be 'rolled-back' to any previous change with a click of a button. Every change (code or content) creates a snapshot of your site. This can be a relief for editors in case a change was accidentally published. Also, a JAMstack website has no backend, so there's no database for your developers to manage which removes any bottlenecks as well. Developers can spend more time coding, and less time managing servers and uptime.  

Ending Notes 

Want to learn more about JAMstack? Make sure you snag your ticket to the Agility CMS Fastr Conference! The conference is a one-day, crash course dedicated to web developers who want to learn more about today's disruptive technologies. Listen to the amazing line up of speakers talk about JAMstack and static site generators, how headless CMS can make you a better developer and much, much more! All these things are making a significant impact in the industry, so why not join the discussion?! Space is limited, so register today and save your seat! We hope to see you there! 

Also, if you're in the Toronto area and enjoy collaborating with like-minded people, I highly recommend checking out JAMstack Toronto. A weekly meetup where diverse speakers and developers come together to discuss new ways to build and deploy sites. 

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