Illustration of laptop with static website represented

Over the last two decades, the landscape of web development and content management systems has steadily evolved toward more modular and dynamic architectures. This progression is evident in the design of today's most popular content management systems, which feature a limited number of templates that are combined with a large range of modules and components. The pages served by these systems are dynamically constructed, with content retrieved from a database, seamlessly integrated into templates, and delivered to users. This architectural approach offers compelling advantages, including a high level of flexibility, efficiency in generating pages on the fly, and optimal utilisation of bandwidth and processing power, drawing from both end-users' bandwidth and the capabilities of elastic cloud-based technology that largely underpins many modern websites.

In the quest for a flexible and dynamic web application architecture, it's easy to overlook the trade-offs. The reality is that highly dynamic sites come with several challenges that warrant consideration. For instance, they exhibit increased vulnerability to security threats, such as script injection, and impose greater demands on infrastructure. Hosting and serving pages for these sites require more processing power. Moreover, there's an environmental aspect to consider, as the elevated energy consumption needed to generate and display dynamic content becomes a factor.

Is there a viable alternative to this approach? It turns out that there is an approach that offers the best of both worlds, and it involves taking a step back in time to propel ourselves forward.

Introducing the static site builder

We recently embarked on a large platform build project for significant player in the entertainment industry. Our task was to create a new web platform for their flagship brand, intended for subsequent adaptation across their diverse portfolio. Key to their requirements for the platform was a guaranteed high level of security, mitigating the risk of potential Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that could potentially disrupt the sites during critical sales periods – no minor task.

In response to this challenge, we leveraged Umbraco 10 as a base and built an innovative static site publishing platform for the group. The page authoring steps in the process remain unchanged, however during publishing the platform dynamically generates a static version of each page on the site, which is what is then served to web site visitors. This approach largely eliminates the need for server-side processing to dynamically build pages at the time of request. Even better, the static pages are seamlessly delivered through Cloudflare, allowing us to leverage Cloudflare’s global scale to provide outstanding performance.

The Static Site Platform offers some compelling benefits;

  • It is completely self-contained, and very user friendly; content editors can initiate the build and deployment of a static site from within the constructs of Umbraco, without requiring help from developers or the IT team.
  • It contains background automations that speed up content creation and publishing time. For example, whenever a library item is republished within the Umbraco framework, the static site builder automatically republishes every page that item was used on, generating the necessary static html.
  • The platform leverages the image processor within Umbraco to scale assets for use on responsive versions of the site. These resized assets are published to the static site and deployed as part of that static site package.
  • The site is served from Cloudflare’s CDN network – ensuring high availability, even in times where the CMS infrastructure is impacted.
  • Static sites can be deployed to Blob storage, vastly simplifying the required infrastructure, and reducing ongoing costs.

Conclusion

Dynamic web sites offer flexibility and efficiency, but they also present challenges – notably security vulnerabilities, and high demand on cloud infrastructure. Recognising the need for a balanced solution, we have developed the Static Site Platform—an innovative approach that blends the best of both worlds – offering the flexibility of a dynamic site with the performance and security of static HTML.

The recent launch of the Static Site Platform has been operating in production for more than 6 months now and the performance has been very encouraging – we are seeing a reduction in infrastructure load of 50+%, coupled with very high availability and fast page load times.

Get in touch with Deepend if you would like to know more.

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Chris Crammond

Managing Partner

Chris.Crammond@deepend.com.au 02 8917 7900
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Matt Griffin

Chief Executive

matt.griffin@deepend.com.au 02 8917 7900