Jamstack is an architectural approach that decouples the web experience layer from data and business logic, improving flexibility, scalability, performance, and maintainability.
Quote from Jamstack.org
We’ve already written about what Jamstack is if you’re looking to get a better understanding of what it actually is.
Whether you’re building a Marketing site, Ecommerce store, or SaaS application, the Jamstack has you covered. It’s an architecture which means it’s not tied to a specific product, technology or programming language.
Anyone can implement it, and because of that it’s used widely across the web (and off it too) by brands you’ve probably heard of: Audible, PayPal, InVision, Typeform, Peloton, Louis Vuitton and tons more.
Why you should use Jamstack
Jamstack websites are designed for performance first. With them, you can get websites that load in less than 1 second — far easier than in the past. Frameworks have gotten great at optimizing code by default so you get all the benefits of dynamic websites without the negatives.
That’s important because websites need to be fast. Users expect fast websites and the slower yours is, the harder it’ll be to keep your customers engaged, meaning less sales regardless of how great your product or marketing is.
Have you ever launched a website where you later found a bug that you’re not quite sure how long it’s been there?
Jamstack frontends allow you to build in automated tests throughout the site to test everything from how the site looks to how it works.
And if something went wrong and you can’t figure out what? It’s easy to roll back to the previous working version while it’s being fixed.
One of the worst things when growing your business is trying to add a complementary website or app, or even just a new feature on your current site, and having to do a significant rebuild to get it working because everything is deeply interconnected.
Jamstack websites completely avoid this by isolating each part of the build, with frontend code and backend code being totally separate. That means it’s easier to work with, both on an initial build and in the long term. And if you want to add another website or an app later it’s significantly easier to do.
And, with greater separation in the code itself, that also makes it easier for larger teams to work on code at the same time and provide better results.
Need to add a new product, update your content, or change your prices? How many people do you need to make that small change?
With Jamstack, it’s easy. You can make a change in one place and it automatically updates everywhere. That means your content team can make the change without fear of breaking anything, and everything stays in sync.
With traditional websites, you pick your tool first (something like WordPress). Once you’ve chosen your tool, you’re locked into that ecosystem which is often based on the CMS. Even if you’re more familiar with React or Vue, you’re stuck with PHP until you rebuild your website from the ground up.
Because Jamstack separates the frontend and backend, you can combine whichever technologies work best for you. You can use PHP for the backend if you’d like, or node, any other technology and combine it with any frontend technology like React, Vue, 11ty or whatever is your preference.
This means you can build the exact tech stack that works for your needs, making growth easier and your team far more effective.
Better Developer Experience
Because Jamstack allows you to set up the exact workflow you want, that means you can create a more effective and less frustrating process that your team will love to work with.
Happier developers makes more effective developers. They’ll be able to work faster and create better long-term solutions when given the right tools. Plus, they’ll enjoy what they’re doing which is great for long term retention; hiring is expensive after all.
Makes testing easy
Adding features with Jamstack is easy. But adding features easily can lead to other problems, like guaranteeing those features work as expected everywhere they exist.
Fortunately, Jamstack also makes testing your code easy. As your UI and data are less deeply integrated, you can test components in isolation and find potential issues before they get anywhere near your deployment.
This helps guarantee your work, increasing uptime and providing a better user experience across the board.
Better for everyone
As you can see above, there are a lot of benefits of working with Jamstack technologies, but when combined these benefits create one core improvement that you simply can’t ignore…
Your website is better for everyone.
Customers, Developers, Editors, Testers, and everyone in between.
Isolating processes, simplifying maintenance, and working in a way that’s best for your needs means you’re much more likely to be able to create an environment that your entire team love working in, which means they’ll be able to provide better solutions for your customers.
When Jamstack doesn’t work
I know I’ve been singing its praises, and Jamstack is an excellent solution, but it’s not perfect for every business.
So when doesn’t it work?
When you don’t need to scale
Not every business is looking to grow. In fact, some businesses are incredibly successful without growing at all (or at least without growing their tech department), and for those businesses it’s quite likely that their website will remain the same for long periods of time, and when it is updated it’ll probably be just one person working on it.
If that’s the case, creating a Jamstack solution is probably overkill and, while you might get some performance boosts, the benefits don’t outweighs the costs of hiring a specialist developer to handle your website. A better solution might be using something like Webflow, Squarespace or Wix that allow you to create a site without ever touching code and are automatically kept up to date over long periods of time.
When you want to get up and running fast
Sometimes, you just need to go fast. Because Jamstack is a more developer-oriented approach it can be slower to set up, especially when compared with no-code tools like Webflow, Squarespace or Wix which can get you started with templates out of the box.
Keep in mind though, that while you’re gaining short term speed you’re losing long term scalability so taking this route might mean you need to re-think your approach in the future.
But the Jamstack community are here to save the day. Many teams, and their communities, are allowing the creation of Jamstack templates that get you spun up on a project in minutes, not hours. Sanity has a great library of templates if you’re looking to get started on the Jamstack, fast.
I see two branching solutions going forward:
Jamstack will cover more and more of the more complex aspects of the web as it is more flexible, allows teams to create their very best solutions, and works whether you’re a business of ten or ten thousand.
No-code tools will also continue to grow in popularity for teams who need a simple solution fast, or who know they’ll never need developers.
Traditional websites will see a decline, especially amongst larger teams with long-term focus because of their added complexity.
Why Jamstack is the future
The web is demanding better user experience, for your customers and your team. Everything from Google’s SEO requirements to enhanced Jamstack frameworks focused entirely on UX like Astro are proving that change is inevitable.
Fortunately, we’re ahead of the curve and always keeping our eye on new trends so if you’re looking to start a new Jamstack project, reach out and we’ll help get you started!