It has never been so easy to have a website
I don’t mind making a website but hosting it is a real pain and I don’t have time.
These words were pretty standard for a lot of people a few years ago. To host a website you had to build it, prepare a server with the stack of your choice (LAMP in general) via SSH, deploy via FTP and then pray that your Apache/Nginx configuration was correct 🙏. I get it, it was complicated and not everybody has the skills or time for that.
But nowadays, as our workflow evolved, this is not a valid excuse anymore.
Websites as a Service
With the increase of browser capabilities, the rise of website builder was inevitable. Solutions like Squarespace have offers both cheap and efficient.
Each premade theme (out of the hundreds) come loaded with optimized assets, SEO built-in, mobile friendly-UI, and SSL by default! Customers with limited skills can now build, deploy and maintain a website with ease. All of that is already great without mentioning the support that come with this kind of service.
If your needs are pretty simple squarespace is a great way to start: It attracted big players like Lyft or Michigan Nike and now manage millions of websites.
Simplified custom hosting
Premade themes are not for everyone. They lack versalility and are complex to modify. Adding simple elements can reavel itself to be a tedious process. If you want your website to have your personal touch, you will have to host it yourself. This gives you more headroom for tweaking the behavior of your site but used to require a lot of skills.
When people have a problem, a solution usually follows soon after: Hence CDN as a Service like Netlify, Github pages or (to a lesser degree) Firebase.
Netlify has one purpose and one only: Distributing your website as efficiently as possible. A Content Distribution Network (or CDN) has multiple servers all around the world hosting your website. This way, wherever somebody requests your website, he will access as fast as his internet connection allows it.
But the features that set it appart from the rest is that it also integrates Continuous Deployment. Connect Netlify to your git repository, provide it with the command to build your website, and which folder contains the result and forget about it.
The beauty of this approach is that if you have a problem or a bug with your new release, you can safely rollback to the previous version with a click of a button. Atomic deployments makes your life way simpler and allows to you focus on building something great instead of avoiding mistakes on your servers.
Did I mention that these services are free if your website doesn’t have a lot of traffic? Even without funds you can now have an easy to manage and fast website.
On a similar idea Github allow you to host static content on a always free server.
You have way less power on hosting parameters and behavior but it’s always free. Oh, I forgot to say that this is true only for open source projects ;)
This platform is a Google service mainly built for building mobile applications, but you can use for the web nonetheless.
Firebase pack way more features than Netlify by adding user authentication, manage databases and api endpoint. This is called a Backend as a Service.
I can spend days explaining the benefits of a BaaS but that would be for another article (currently in the making 😊). To summarize it, these kind of services allow you to build your front end and Backend with pieces like LEGO. You can take any bloc, be it authentication or database and use it via a simple SDK.
This allows you to quickly build custom dynamic websites and serve them through Google CDNs. If you want to quickly build something highly tailored, it is the way to go.
The new web
Whatever your needs the internet of today has a simple solution to help you get your website up and running. Skill is no more a barrier and if you were hesitant about jumping on the web wagon, don’t anymore and join the World Wide Web 💻.
I personally am a fan of JAMStack and for me Netlify is a really good way to go. But for most cases if you need a database and realtime write access or authentication, Firebase is a good solution. For any other simple static sites, just head to squarespace, you will save some time.