Computer display

The Difference Between WordPress and Handcoded Websites

house Gino Murin Jun 8, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Static websites coded from scratch load up to 10 times faster than page builders like WordPress. If your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, the majority of your visitors will abandon the site, losing customers.
  • Google indexes your website based on how your mobile site performs, and page builder mobile sites are not as optimized, not as fast, not as well built, and often times not 100% responsive, which could hinder your search rankings.
  • My hand-made static sites are coded mobile first, meaning I write the code starting with mobile screens, then adding code for tablet and desktop. This makes mobile more responsive, optimized, and incredibly fast to load - improving your website's performance on Google and making sure visitors don't abandon your site.
  • WordPress is notoriously known for its vulnerabilities and needs to be updated regularly to patch security flaws that hackers can use to compromise your website. Hand-made static sites cannot be compromised as easily, and are virtually impenetrable because of their simplicity and lack of entry points to hack.

In the world of web development, there are two main kinds of websites: static and dynamic.

A static site is like a simple version of a website, made up of basic building blocks such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It doesn't have special features or fancy stuff. It just shows the page as it was created. These coding languages create everything you see on a website, and often, they're all you need. When you open a static site, your browser reads the code and displays the page immediately. Everyone sees the same content on static sites. Making a static site can be done by writing code yourself (which is what I'm good at!) or by using a tool called a static site generator.

On the other hand, a dynamic site (like WordPress or page builders) uses extra coding and technology on the server to put together the website as it's loaded. Instead of the browser figuring out the code, it's the server that does the work and sends the ready website to the browser. Also, instead of showing the same content to everyone, dynamic sites show different content to each person. This makes dynamic sites slower to load, and they can be more prone to security issues like hacking. Static sites don't have these problems because they don't use databases. We'll talk more about this later in the article.

Examples of dynamic sites include those made with WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, GoDaddy, or coded in languages like PHP. These tools store all the website's elements in a database. When someone visits the site, the server checks the database for what the browser needs and puts everything together for the visitor to see. While these tools make it easy to build a website yourself and at a low cost, there are some big disadvantages compared to the static sites I create.

Why are static sites faster than dynamic ones?

One very important thing for your website's Google ranking is how quickly it loads, especially on mobile devices. The issue with dynamic sites (like WordPress and Wix) is that the server takes time to check the database and build the page. If you have lots of extra features or add-ons on your site, it can slow down even more. This matters because studies show that most people will leave a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. If your site takes that long, why have it if people won't wait? This is a big problem with WordPress and Wix sites – they can be slow and costly.

Static sites, on the other hand, can load up to 10 times faster than dynamic sites. This is because they're already built and don't need last-minute assembly. They don't use unnecessary plugins or databases, so they're efficient. I make sure every line of code in my sites is written with a purpose, and it's easy for Google to understand. Dynamic sites like WordPress often have messy code that slows things down.

Think of it like this: Imagine you have a plate of tangled-up spaghetti and you want to count the noodles. It would be time consuming and messy to untangle the noodles and organize them in a way you could count them. Now imagine you have another plate with the noodles neatly arranged, making it easy to count. That's like the difference between the code of dynamic and static sites. The messy code slows down the browser and search engines like Google have trouble understanding it.

A good website should load in under 2 seconds. My custom static sites often load in less than half a second, way faster than average. They load almost instantly. The well-organized code makes it easy for your browser and Google to handle, leading to faster loading times and a better Google ranking. If your site isn't getting much traffic, check how long it takes to load using Google's tool. If it takes over 3 seconds, people might leave before seeing it.

Google and Mobile Speed

Google has recently updated its search system to rank websites based on how well they perform on mobile devices. This is called Mobile First Indexing. So, if your mobile site loads quickly, your site will rank higher. This is where static sites really shine.

Mobile-First Approach and Speed Mobile-first programming is a technique where developers create code for mobile screens first, then add code for tablets and desktops. When a browser reads the code that styles the page (CSS), it starts from the top and works down. If we start with desktop code at the top, the browser loads that first and then adds the mobile code below. This wastes time. But with a mobile-first approach, the mobile code comes first. So when you open a site on your phone, it loads the mobile design right away.

From experience, it's easier to make content fit a bigger space than to squeeze it into a smaller one. Mobile-first programming combined with static site development makes sites super fast.

Handmade Static Sites vs. WordPress and Wix

In general, custom static websites I create are almost always better than sites made with WordPress or Wix. Static sites load in a fraction of a second, while dynamic sites like WordPress can take several seconds or more. Plus, static sites are more secure because they're simpler. They are the clear choice for businesses.

Dynamic sites like WordPress can't easily follow the mobile-first approach and struggle with responsiveness. For instance, some Wix sites don't adjust well to different screen sizes, leading to messy layouts that hurt the user experience. Dynamic sites often lack the control needed to make sites work well on all devices.

Why Hire a Developer?

Wix and WordPress claim anyone can make a website for free. This can attract small businesses with tight budgets. However, if you care about speed, security, getting more customers, and ranking higher on Google, investing in a custom static site is worth it. Just like you wouldn't trust a cheap surgeon for surgery, a cheap website can hurt your business's image.

Websites are like tattoos – you get what you pay for. If you settle for a low-cost site, you'll likely get low-quality results. A quality site built by a skilled developer can significantly boost your business.

In the end, whether you choose static or dynamic depends on your budget and goals. If you need a simple site quickly and on a budget, tools like WordPress or Wix are okay. But if you want a high-performing site that stands out, a custom static site is the way to go. With my approach, you don't have to choose between doing it yourself or paying a fortune. It's an affordable option that delivers a partner invested in your business's success.