WordPress is insanely popular. There is no second thought about this. However, if there is something that plagues WordPress is its speed. It is one of the slowest Content Management Systems in the world.
No wonder, the buzz word in today’s website world is speed! There is an endless supply of plugins offering speed optimization for WordPress. The sheer number of articles you find on the web that give tips and tricks on WordPress speed optimization is shocking. Even we have one.
The problem is that speed optimization involves a lot of technical stuff that are quite often out of the league of rookies. So, people are looking for new solution.
This search has returned one unique solution – “Static WordPress Hosting.”
Did you not hear about it?
Well, learn it now!
WordPress is by nature, dynamic! It is dynamic because it uses a database. That is the simplest explanation. Any website that uses a database is a dynamic website.
On the contrary, a static website has no database.
With this information in mind, the question that naturally follows is – “what is static WordPress hosting?”
Let us understand in detail.
How Does a WordPress Site Work?
The programming language used for creating WordPress is PHP. When a person visits a WordPress site, the webserver executes the PHP code and sends a query to the database of the website.
The information that the database returns is then taken by the webserver and the HTML content is put together dynamically. It is this content that the visitor sees on his or her browser.
There is an advantage of a dynamic website. Think of an WooCommerce website. Suppose ten (10) people add 10 different items in their shopping carts.
The webserver will display the cart page to each of those 10 people simultaneously, but at the same time, it will ensure that the right product is displayed to the cart page to the right person.
This is possible because of the queries that the webserver makes to the database. The query originating from each user’s browser is different, and hence, the database will return only the appropriate results for each query, allowing WordPress to display different results to different users at the same time.
Okay, what you read just now the most rudimentary explanation. The entire process is quite complex even though it only takes a few milliseconds to execute the query.
The sheer amount of complexity makes WordPress a very resource-intensive CMS. It is resource-intensive because for every query, the server must dynamically build the corresponding HTML content.
Now imagine what happens when there are hundreds and thousands of visitors on the site at the same time. The amount of server resources your website will need to stay operational can baffle you. The cost of hosting can increase significantly.
This is where caching comes in.
A WordPress caching plugin creates a cache of the HTML content that is created using the dynamic process. So, everytime a user makes a query, the plugin will show the cached HTML content instead of dynamically generating it.
This reduces server load.
But there is a problem.
Even with the caching mechanism is place, the real WordPress site along with its database is still there. It sits behind the cached files.
Whenever you update content on your site, the caching plugin will purge the entire cache of HTML content and rebuild it. This, too, puts a lot of load on the server.
So, way out?
This is where static WordPress hosting fits in.
Let us understand it.
Static WordPress Hosting – How Does it Work?
Things will differ here. In a static WordPress hosting environment, the whole WordPress site and its database will be completely removed. What will remain is the static version of your site.
When a visitor comes to your website, the server will serve the static version without involving the WordPress backend.
From your perspective, you will be working on the WordPress backend as usual. Adding content, updating content, deleting content – everything happens through WordPress backend.
When you are done updating your content, a 100% static version of your site will be created and deployed. There will be no PHP and database involved.
In the hosting backend, your WordPress site remains enclosed in a container, preventing people from accessing it. The hosting company will take only the static content and put it in a separate frontend environment.
The visitors of your site can interact only with this frontend environment.
So, there are two elements in a static WordPress hosting:
- A static website generator that extracts the static HTML from WordPress.
- A hosting environment for the extracted HTML content. This hosting environment serves the static pages to the visitors.
Sounds great! But if a coin has a head, it also has a tail.
If you settle for static WordPress hosting, you must deal with both advantages and disadvantages. Guess what? While the advantages are great, the disadvantages are also big.
Before you decide to move to a static WordPress hosting provider, weigh the pros and cons properly.
Let us learn about both sides of the story.
Static WordPress Hosting – The Pros and The Cons
- A static site is free of security vulnerabilities like Cross-site Scripting (XSS), SQL injections (SQLi), etc. This means that hackers really cannot damage your website.
- A static site gets rid of server-side processing. Since there is no processing involved, the static site becomes blazing fast.
- Because the static site is already blazing fast, you do not have to worry about speed optimization. You do not have to worry about technical things like eliminating render-blocking JS, reducing/removing third-party scripts, avoid critical chain requests, etc.
- You will no longer have to worry about the ever-increasing hosting expenses. A small hosting package can deal with much more traffic.
Okay, that is great! But do not forget that there are disadvantages as well.
- The moment you use static version of your website, it can no longer generate dynamic content. This means that some features that require database interactions will completely stop working. Certain things that will stop working include:
- WordPress native comments.
- Contact forms.
- Site search, etc.
- Every time you update content (fresh content, edits to older content pieces, etc.), you must redeploy the static version of the site. It is unlike WordPress where just hitting Publish button is enough.
As far as the things those stop working are concerned, you can find some workaround for a few of them. For instance, for comments you can rely on Disqus. For contact forms, you can rely on options like Formspree, Wufoo, Google Forms, Typeform, etc.
But again, there will be few things for which you cannot find alternatives. You will not find an WooCommerce alternative that will work with the static version of the site. There will be no alternatives for BuddyPress, bbPress, etc.
The bottom line is that most of the plugins that you generally use with a WordPress site will stop working.
Which are the Most Famous Static WordPress Hosting Providers?
You can host the static version of your WordPress site on just about any hosting server. However, you need to have the technical know-how of deploying that entire setup, because most of the hosting providers will not provide that support.
The other way round is to use a hosting provider that excel in Static WordPress hosting. Yes, there are such dedicated hosting companies.
These dedicated static WordPress hosting companies will perform both the functions, that is, hosting the WordPress site and extracting the static HTML out of it, as well as, hosting and serving those static files to the visitors.
The three hosting companies that excel in this field are:
- Strattic (Most preferred)
- HardyPress (Least preferred)
Let us learn a few things about these static WordPress hosting providers.
Strattic is a new service and an awfully expensive one. It will allow you to host your WordPress site and then it will create a static headless site which is blazing fast and secure. However, it is the most advanced static WordPress hosting solution to exist.
Because it will generate a static site, you can rest assured that the site will not be vulnerable to threats like SQLi, XSS, etc.
The main WordPress site will sit in an isolated container that will stay protected from the web. When the WordPress site is not in use, the container will spin down (just a fancy way to say that the WordPress site will go offline). However, your static site will be up and running.
Depending on the plan you select, you will get DDoS mitigation, staging static site, and other features.
The company also throws in support for many famous WordPress plugins including:
The platform even supports different plugins for 301 redirections including Yoast SEO Premium, Redirection, Simple 301 Redirects, Safe Redirect Manager.
The most impressive feature is that unlike other platforms, Strattic will allow you to publish only the latest content changes. So, you do not have to publish the entire site repeatedly.
They also have AMP support and support of HTTP/2 protocol.
The pricing part is a bit concerning. They have three plans – Solo, Business, and Enterprise.
It is their lowest tier plan that costs $45 a month. This plan will allow only one WordPress user, one website, one staging site, CDN only in limited regions, AWS SSL, and 20 GB CDN bandwidth.
This plan will cost you $250 a month. It will allow 5 WordPress users, 3 websites, CDN in limited regions, preview & staging site, one extra staging, AWS SSL, and 100 GB CDN bandwidth.
This plan will cost you a lot depending on your requirements. You need to call them and get a custom quote. The number of sites allowed, and the number of WP users allowed will be determined depending on the needs you have.
You will get full access to 225 edge locations (CDN), DDoS protection, and custom CDN bandwidth.
The company will not limit the storage space and visits irrespective of the plan you select.
If you have the financial power to afford it, I will recommend that you use Strattic.
Shifter is by far the best-known static WordPress hosting provider in the world. The company offers a limited free plan under which you will enjoy 500 MB storage, 1 site hosting, 1 GB bandwidth, and a free SSL certificate. The only problem is that you cannot use a custom domain with the free tier.
Shifter has an open API that you can use for creating custom workflows. It also comes with features like PHP error reporting, automated scaling, site usage and statistics, built-in security, and more. They even add a search function to the website.
They have what they call Shifter Media CDN that allows you to offload your website media. The CDN automatically serves WebP images. You do not have to worry about that.
The company offers Amazon CloudFront-powered CDN to globally distribute the static HTML files created from your WordPress site. They even offer automated backups. There are many more features available.
Shifter has multiple pricing plans. The plans do not come with any fancy name. They simple call them as Free Tier, Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 plans.
- Tier 1 will cost you $16 a month and allow you to host only one site with 5GB storage and 50GB bandwidth. You can add your custom domain, and they will throw in a free SSL certificate.
- Tier 2 will cost you $24 a month and allow you to host 1 site with 10 GB storage, 100 GB bandwidth, a free SSL, and allow a custom domain.
- Tier 3 will cost you $144 a month and allow you to host 1 site with unlimited media storage, 1 TB bandwidth, a free SSL, and allow a custom domain.
Of course, Shifter is quite pricey if you want to host several websites. However, those who use Shifter say that the price is justified considering the features they offer.
Though HardyPress is designed for rookies, you will still need some working knowledge of DNS and how WordPress works. If you settle for HardyPress, it will eliminate the need for a local WordPress installation.
The overall setup and installation take barely a few minutes. What is truly magnificent is that if you are using certain plugins, you can keep using then along with HardyPress as long as those plugins do not have a front-facing dynamic features that allows user interaction.
As a nice touch, the company adds support for Contact Form 7, but with some modifications that allow it to work on the static WordPress site.
Yet another fantastic feature that HardyPress offers is the site search. Yes, you will get a site search feature that will allow your users to search for content within your site.
HardyPress offers four pricing plans to choose from. They are:
Personal: 500 MB storage, 1 website, email support for €5 a month.
Professional: 3 GB storage, unlimited websites, email support for €25 a month.
VPS: 30 GB storage, unlimited websites, REST API access, live chat support for €80 a month.
Enterprise: Custom storage, unlimited websites, REST API access, custom advanced features, live chat support for €350 a month.
If you are surprised about the storage space, do not worry about it. Static HTML pages are extremely lightweight, which explains why they are lightning fast. Even the basic Personal plan’s 500 MB can store thousands of webpages.
When you are hosting a static site, it is difficult to run out of storage space. So, it does not make any sense to use copious amounts of storage.
Should You Be Using Static WordPress Hosting?
The answer to this question will depend entirely on the type of site you have. For instance, if you have a simple blog with no e-commerce or community plugin, you can settle for a static WordPress hosting solution.
You can even use static WordPress hosting if you are building a website that gives simple information about your business such as your company profile, founding members and team members, list of your company’s products and services and so on.
The bottom line is that if your site does not depend on dynamic content too much, or if it is updated occasionally, a static version of your site will make sense.
Remember, gone are the days when the slowest of websites could rank high. Google’s page experience algorithm is going to change everything. While content will remain the king, it will no longer be only factor for ranking.
Poor page experience will drag down your website in SERPs. So, it is important that you find out ways to speed up your site. A static WordPress hosting seems to be a viable option here.