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Deploying Modern Static Websites [A Q&A]

Posted on 6.15.2016

There is no shortage of hosting providers, continuous deployment services, caching services, etc., on the Web, but Netlify would argue no competitors bundle and automate it all like it does. 

Website Magazine caught up with Chris Bach, president of Netlify, to understand its offerings, which allow developers to deploy modern static websites and add best practices like SSL, contend delivery network (CDN) distribution, caching and continuious deployment. 

What should those using Netlify know about the current state of your industry?

I think a lot of users are already aware that there are drastic changes happening with the Web developers’ toolchain. Websites and Web apps that can be pre-rendered and hosted on a content delivery network (“static sites”) are only a part of what’s really a new stack. It’s an exciting time.

Web developers are using modern build tools and frameworks in a workflow centered around Git (Gulp, Jekyll, React, Angular, GitHub, etc.). By taking advantage of modern Web browsers and HTML5, developers are creating websites and Web apps that can be hosted on a CDN. Then, any element on a site that needs real-time updating (like a comments section, a webchat, or a contact form) can simply connect to a modern API via the browser.

The result is websites that are many times faster, more secure and cheaper to scale than sites on legacy systems like WordPress.

How will Netlify's offerings evolve?

While it’s hard to know what this industry will look like in five years and beyond, we’re adding tons of features all the time based on what’s going on in the Web developer communities. Our users have really loved the hosted toolchain, and we are working on improvements that solve their issues end-to-end. For example, capabilities around editing content for static sites is an area that we think about a lot.

We’re genuinely passionate about empowering Web developers to focus on what's important to them. Hosting the best toolchain we can and building/deploying to a fantastic CDN is how we started, and will always be the foundation of what Netlify offers.

What type of user are you seeing the most demand from?

Web developers working with modern frameworks and build tools are the ones currently demanding – and getting the most from – their Netlify-managed build/deploy/host workflows. As Netlify matures as a platform, we expect large demand in other sectors where fast and capable websites are essential: digital agencies, content publishers, devops managers and more.

What current website trends are impacting Netlify's business?

The biggest one is the big migration of front-end web developers to this new stack. Modern static websites and the Git-centric workflow in general are seeing huge growth these days, and for good reason.

We see two factors significantly contributing to the push in this direction. The first is that website performance is becoming ever more important, especially with the emergence of mobile. Often, simply migrating a website to our platform will lead to a 10 percent or higher increase in conversions and a significant boost in search ranking, simply because the website loads so much faster.

Secondly, malware is now a $100 billion dollar business – and with good reason. Right around 79 percent of all WordPress sites, or a full 20 percent of the Internet, is susceptible to known vulnerabilities. With modern static sites, you separate the build from the hosting, and there simply aren’t any moving parts; there’s no live build process for malware to be injected into. So we think there’s a tremendous security advantage to be gained by switching to a modern static site.

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