Intro to Gatsby: 

Standard WordPress sites are so 2010s (said with a valley girl accent). There is a new type of tech that is gaining popularity in the dev community called Gatsby, which connects with WordPress via an API to produce super quick, super intuitive, and extremely secure websites. They are also called “headless WordPress sites” with Gatsby acting as the “head”. Here is a 2-minute video explaining more: 

 

 

Gatsby uses a codebase called ReactJS (just say “React” when talking to a dev…save you the embarrassment) which is “a declarative, efficient, and flexible JavaScript library for building user interfaces.” It lets you compose complex UIs from small and isolated pieces of code called components. Basically, it provides all the benefits of Gatsby which I stated above. It is also SEO friendly and has a strong community of developers advancing the codebase. 

Do you need it? 

Developing a headless WordPress website can add 25-50% more development time which could significantly raise the cost of your site. A client recently asked me if it was worth the money and if their audience would even notice. Here was my answer…

”The common person may not notice all the benefits of Gatsby, but your buyer persona appreciates polished things; they drive nice cars, spend a lot of money on your services and will notice an upgraded website user experience. If you have the budget, yes, it is worth the money.” 

The client’s response: “Okay, let’s do it.” 

Overall, “need” is a loaded word. As an Interactive Director, I say, “Yes, if you want a world-class user experience that will add to your list of differentiators then let’s go for it.” If you are restricted by budget you can still get a really clean and effective WordPress site. 

(Side note: Watch out for agency folks that don’t believe in WordPress. Most of the time they dismiss it as a common CMS tool but in reality, they just haven’t done their research and will present options that will be WAY more expensive.)

Who is using it? Can I see examples? 

Glad you asked, Randall. Always asking great questions. Check out Gatsby’s library of examples. You will see companies like Nike and Airbnb to local Denver startups like SendGrid. Click through them to get the full experience. 

Does it change how the site is updated and managed? 

Not really. You still edit the website via the WordPress dashboard but changing many WordPress core settings or installing plugins will have no effect, as Gatsby won’t know what to do with these without significant custom modification. You may also need special hosting depending on your current environment. Nothing too crazy expensive, though.