What is a JamStack website and when should you use one?

by Dave Erickson
10 mins read
  1. Development
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In the fast-paced world of marketing, businesses often grapple with the challenge of delivering dynamic and engaging content to their target audience; while maintaining a robust and scalable online presence. The traditional content management systems and site builders, though functional, may encounter limitations in terms of flexibility, security, and speed.

This is where the revolutionary JamStack architecture emerges as a transformative solution. JamStack, an acronym encompassing JavaScript, APIs, and Markup, represents a modern web development approach that optimizes the delivery of static websites.

The main benefit is that of speed, particular page loading speed. Fast loading website make the visitors happy - who likes waiting for a slow website to load - but more importantly it makes Google happy. This means fast loading Jamstack websites have a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) advantage over slower loading sites.

This Jamstack architecture, introduced by Mathias Biilmann in 2016, decouples the web experience layer from data and business logic, offering advantages such as improved flexibility, stability, maintainability, scalability, and security. By distributing the load between server-side and client-side components, JamStack significantly reduces server-related waiting times, enhancing user experience.

As businesses strive to overcome marketing challenges and deliver seamless online experiences, adopting a JamStack website emerges as a strategic solution, empowering them to navigate the dynamic digital landscape efficiently.

Jammin’ JamStack

JamStack is an acronym that describes a modern web development architecture that allows developers to quickly and efficiently serve static websites to users. JamStack refer to websites and applications built using the following technical development stack:

  • JavaScript as the programming language used by web applications.
  • APIs used to request data from someone else’s program or application.
  • Markup language as the code that provides formatting instructions to browsers.

Stack refers to the combination of all the above in a way that allows developers to build applications and websites. The term JamStack itself was originally coined back in 2016 by Mathias Biilmann, CEO and co-founder of Netlify .

JamStack is not a specific technology or framework but a different architectural approach that pre-renders and decouples the web experience layer from data and business logic, improving flexibility, stability, maintainability, scalability, security and making the web faster.

Instead of using a traditional content management system such as WordPress or site builder like Wix, a JamStack site splits up the code (JavaScript), the site infrastructure (APIs) and the content (Markup) which are all handled in a decoupled architecture and with a clear split between server-side and client-side.

The main idea behind building JamStack websites and applications is to push as much of the load as possible away from the server and onto the client. As a result, it significantly reduces the number of requests sent to a server, hence eliminating a lot of the waiting time that comes with a server handling a request and sending it back to the client.

While JavaScript and Markup dictate the way JamStack websites appear to a user, backend functions are necessary for the website to work. JamStack manages this by calling APIs using JavaScript. The use of APIs means that JamStack developers do not have to create their own backend applications. They can however build on already existing APIs to make their JamStack websites and applications work.

From startups to multinational companies, brands across the world are using JamStack to power their websites. Some examples of websites built on JamStack include; Louis Vuitton , JFK Terminal 4 , Pan Macmillan , Peloton , and our own ScreamingBox .

Benefits of JamStack Websites

JamStack has revolutionized the way the world thinks about building a website by providing a simpler developer experience, better performance and lower costs which is a vital part to start-up best practices and start-up growth tactics. There are many other benefits of using JamStack to build a website and below are the main benefits provided.

Faster Website Performance

By virtue of the fact that JamStack websites rely less on a server and a database, it will often load very fast for page visitors. Most of the content in a JamStack application is made up of static HTML files that are served from a Content Delivery Network which is the fastest way to deliver web content to end users.

SEO Advantage

Implementing a JamStack website can have a profound impact on SEO results, revolutionizing the way content is crawled, indexed, and ultimately ranked by search engines. The decoupled architecture of JamStack, separating the frontend presentation layer from the backend, contributes to faster loading times and improved performance. This enhanced speed is crucial for SEO, as search engines prioritize websites that provide a swift and seamless user experience.

Additionally, the pre-rendering capabilities of JamStack ensure that content is readily available in static files, reducing the need for server-side processing during each user request. This not only expedites page loading but also facilitates efficient crawling by search engine bots. The clear separation of content and dynamic functionalities enhances the clarity of code, making it more accessible for search engine algorithms.

Furthermore, JamStack's reliance on APIs allows for streamlined integration of SEO tools and services, enabling businesses to implement best practices for meta tags, schema markup, and other optimization strategies. As a result, the adoption of JamStack architecture emerges as a strategic move for businesses aiming to bolster their online visibility and improve SEO rankings.

Better Developer Experience for User Satisfaction

The pre-rendered and decoupled nature of JamStack websites enables development teams to work quickly to build that product. With JamStack, development teams are able to use their preferred frameworks to avoid having to learn new, specific architecture which saves them valuable development time. This enables developers to focus on building a compelling, fronted user experience without worrying about the backend or performance issues.

Scaling is Easy and Cheap

If a website is scalable that means it responds well to large increases in usage. With JamStack websites, files are often stored in CDNs which can easily be connected to new services as the site scales. With a powerful CDN, fewer resources are needed to scale the website. This means that scaling is not just easier but will be cheaper since the website does not require you to upgrade servers, since you are not relying on heavy servers or database processing.

Advanced Security

With JamStack websites, there is no need to worry about server or database vulnerabilities.

Websites built on JamStack tend to be more secure than other sites because the decoupling of the backend and frontend effectively means that any security flaws that might be exploited in the frontend code won’t mean a security breach in the backend application.

When to Use JamStack Websites

Running a successful online business necessitates the presence of a fully functional website. It should be noted that having an e-commerce business comes with various challenges, and although the most important is related to Search Engine Optimization and User Experience , there may be signs that a transition to JamStack is essential.

Some of these signs are elaborated as seen below.

Technical e-commerce issues

You may be forced to entertain the idea of hiring JamStack website developers once technical e-commerce issues are encountered. These issues that are often a result of using outdated tech stack include; the site slowing down when traffic gets heavy, drastic drop in website’s Google rankings and other performance issues like the page crashing with higher web traffic.

The Need for Quality Content and Heavy Traffic

Having an online business calls for promotion and engagement to reach a wider audience. In such scenarios, there is a need to use high quality images, animations and videos. As a result, the website should be able to handle heavy traffic generated from promotions and AD campaigns. With JamStack, both can be achieved, as well as facilitating the quick building of landing pages for such campaigns.

Flexibility in Making Changes

Employing JamStack development is a great approach for e-commerce websites as you can; quickly add new features or edit the existing ones. Furthermore, JamStack enables your e-commerce team to quickly and easily change, copy and test new concepts as well as improving the outdated checkout process faster and easier.

In Conclusion

There are many tech stacks and platform options available for building a website, but instead of using traditional Content Management Systems or site builders, JamStack is a good solution whose decoupled architecture has a lot of advantages over other tech stacks and platforms.

Any example is our own ScreamingBox website, built using Jamstack with a Sanity.io headless CMS to handle the content management of the site.

For more information on JamStack web development and performance, reach out to our experts at ScreamingBox today.

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