A top-notch static site generator can make website building more enjoyable and less exhausting. It lets you focus on other crucial aspects of your website to ensure it accomplishes its goals.
A static site generator can use customized web templates, blend them with data from various sources, and quickly generate and publish web pages. This enables you to create new pages and content without relying on CMS, plugins, or third-party services.
The best static site generators can efficiently produce high-quality pages while maintaining precision and flexibility.
They also offer a wide range of template, theme, and plugin-related features and the ability to incorporate content from various sources. This is why static site generators are becoming increasingly popular every day.
I’ve compiled a list of the best static site generators in 2023 in this article. This will help you choose the perfect tool for your next static website.
But before we review these tools, let’s first understand how the static site generator works. Second, what’s the difference between static and dynamic sites? And what are the benefits of having a static site?
- How Does a Static Site Generator Work?
- What’s the Difference Between Static and Dynamic Sites?
- What are the Benefits of Using a Static Site Generator?
- How to use Dynamic Content in a Static Website
- No code Static Site Generators to Build Entire Websites
- Best Static Site Generators to Create Free Web Pages
- Conclusion on Best Static Site Generators
How Does a Static Site Generator Work?
A static site generator is a tool that automatically creates a complete static HTML website using raw data and a set of templates.
It streamlines the process of coding individual HTML pages and prepares them for user access. Because these HTML pages are pre-built, they can load swiftly in users’ web browsers.
Static site generators offer an alternative to Content Management Systems (CMS), another tool for managing web content, generating webpages, and applying templates.
This means a template is a reusable format for web content; developers use templates to avoid duplicating the same formatting repeatedly. Static site generators are typically associated with the JAMstack web development approach.
What’s the Difference Between Static and Dynamic Sites?
During this process, the web server doesn’t modify the files before sending them to the user, so the web page will appear identical to everyone who views it. The content remains “static,” and the only way to change the website’s appearance is by manually editing the files.
With sufficient expertise, you can make a static website look quite appealing. Nevertheless, a static site will always maintain the same appearance for all users.
Typical examples of static websites include personal resumes, portfolios, brochure-style sites, single-page landing pages, and other informational websites that don’t require personalized content or frequent updates.
These websites are usually small, containing three to four pages or fewer, and have limited content.
When a user visits a dynamic website, the site can change through code executed in the browser or server. But the result is still an HTML page displayed in the web browser.
The main difference between static and dynamic websites is that dynamic ones generate content in real-time. This adaption is based on user input or other factors, providing a more interactive and customized browsing experience.
They enable features like user registrations, content management systems, e-commerce capabilities, and more.
Here’s a quick summary of the difference between Static and Dynamic sites:
|Static Website||Dynamic Website|
|It has friendly development costs.||Higher development cost|
|Static website loads more quickly than a dynamic one.||A dynamic website is slower than a static one.|
|It’s impossible to interact with the database.||You can interact with the database.|
|The content of web pages cannot be altered during runtime.||The content of web pages can be modified.|
|The same content is provided whenever the page is loaded.||The content could vary each time the page is loaded.|
|There are no content management features.||It has a content management system feature.|
|Has robust security||It has average security|
What are the Benefits of Using a Static Site Generator?
Here are some benefits you’ll come across when working with SSG:
1. Better Performance
Many CMS apps have caching systems that store and reuse pages for efficiency. However, there’s still some work involved in handling and updating these cached pages.
On the other hand, static websites can generate pages in advance and keep them ready indefinitely. They can also reduce file sizes before publishing, ensuring quick loading.
These static sites can be easily distributed worldwide through Content Delivery Networks (CDNs). A static site will consistently outperform a CMS-based site with a similar design.
Static assets are naturally quicker than server-rendered assets because they don’t require an application server or a database to generate pages. Moreover, static assets can be distributed through a Content Delivery Network (CDN) instead of a regular web server, enhancing your website’s speed and SEO.
3. Security and Reliability
While no website can be completely immune to security threats, static assets provide limited attack opportunities. There’s no database to target or application server to exploit. When hosted on a Content Delivery Network (CDN) at the edge, there isn’t even a single web server that could be vulnerable.
Static sites are also highly reliable compared to traditional server-based applications. They don’t rely on a database connection that could fail, and there are no server runtime errors.
Even if a new build encounters issues, the site remains accessible with the previous assets. In addition, static assets can easily handle sudden spikes in traffic without any special adjustments.
It also helps optimize your cloud infrastructure usage and simplifies development due to fewer dependencies.
Furthermore, static sites offer scalability by enabling content distribution across different platforms without needing content reauthoring. A static structure can readily adapt to evolving requirements for your website or application.
5. Version Control
CMS depends on a database, and this means that if you delete a page or its content, you either need to have revision history enabled in your CMS to restore a previous version, or you must maintain regular database backups for such rollbacks.
In contrast, a static site with version control allows you to effortlessly return to a previous site and content version without dealing with database adjustments.
How to use Dynamic Content in a Static Website
You might face circumstances where you have to collect user information and display data from other sources on your static website. So, in those cases, how can you get static website generators to include dynamic content while not compromising the performance?
For example, let’s assume you want to add a form widget to your static website. Generate the widget code after building the widget using the following tool:
The widget code can be copied from your Elfsight dashboard.
Now copy and paste the embed code where you want to display it on your static website.
You can add
"data-elfsight-app-lazy" attribute to the div element of the HTML widget code to lazy load the widget’s content. It means the content will appear when the user scrolls to it.
<script src="https://static.elfsight.com/platform/platform.js" data-use-service-core defer></script> <div class="elfsight-app-5df4ded0-7069-4620-ad3a-cd9936e5170e" data-elfsight-app-lazy></div>
Here’s a video that demonstrates how to add dynamic content to a static website and install third-party HTML widgets.
In this video, you will find how to add a client’s logos widget, embed Google Reviews on website, use accordion widget, display Microsoft Document using a file viewer widget, put LinkedIn company page feed, add age verification to HTML website, show popup subscription widget and finally add an HTML form widget with upload field.
No code Static Site Generators to Build Entire Websites
These static site generators do not require coding skills; they provide visual page builders to create dragging and dropping web page elements.
Brizy is one of the best no-code static website generators with various features, including 36+ elements (e.g., accordion, countdown timer, social media icons, tabs, tables widget), custom SEO settings, and clean & optimized code.
- Layouts – Brizy Cloud comprises 180+ beautiful web design templates for different industries (e.g., construction, health, automotive, non-profit, beauty, events, and business).
- Elements – The no-code website builder consists of 30+ elements, such as buttons, maps, galleries, and timelines, to help you design your static web page as accurately as you want.
- Blocks – Blocks let you add different sections to your web pages, such as Gallery, CTA, Team showcase, Testimonials, Headers & Footers, and Hero.
- Styling & Effects – Custom margin & padding, custom attributes, custom CSS, and effects for entrance, hover, and scroll.
- Popups – Create popups, integrate them with your email autoresponder, and collect emails.
- Generate multi-page static websites – Create unlimited web pages, and Brizy will generate static HTML web pages for all of them.
Watch the following video, in which I demonstrate how to create static websites without coding and generate HTML files using Brizy.
In the Brizy pricing guide, we explained the differences among Brizy plans in detail. In brief, the static website generation on Brizy is available on Agency ($69/month) and White Label ($89/month) plans.
- Visual builder with drag & drop functionality
- 180+ layouts & content blocks
- Responsive Control
- Generate unlimited static websites
- No software needed
- Optimized code
- Requires a paid subscription to Brizy Cloud.
Best Static Site Generators to Create Free Web Pages
Hugo is an open-source static site generator written in Go. It can swiftly turn Markdown content files into HTML files with customizable themes. You can easily put these HTML files online.
It’s user-friendly and doesn’t require special permissions, databases, or external software. You can connect Hugo sites to cloud-based CMS tools like Netlify CMS, CloudCannon, or Forestry for non-technical content editors.
Hugo is compatible with various operating systems, making it versatile for hosting on your preferred server or content delivery network (CDN). This includes options like S3, Github Pages, and Dropbox.
- MultipleThemes: Hugo offers more than 300 themes, making it simple to use while still having the power to create complex websites.
- Blistering Speed: It stands out as the quickest tool in its category, with the average website building in under a second, thanks to its speed of less than 1 millisecond per page.
- Robust Content Management: This Static site generator can handle limitless content types, menus, dynamic API-driven content, taxonomies, and other features, all without plugins.
- Multilingual and i18n: It has complete internationalization (i18n) support for websites in multiple languages, maintaining the same user-friendly development experience you can appreciate in single-language sites.
- Built-in Templates: Hugo comes with ready-made templates that make it easy to handle tasks like analytics, SEO, commenting, and more.
- Custom Outputs: The platform enables you to generate your content in various formats, such as JSON or AMP, and simplifies customizing these formats.
- Simple installation
- Active development community
- Open-source Written in Go
- It supports JSON and RSS
- Integration with GitLab Pages
- User-friendly theme customization
- The text formatting features are limited.
Next.js is a web development framework made by the private firm Vercel, and it’s open-source. It’s designed to facilitate the creation of React-based web applications, offering server-side rendering and generating static websites. It offers tools for data retrieval, dynamic API routing, streamlined builds, and more.
- Loading UI and Streaming: The specific file loading.js assists in designing a useful Loading User Interface (UI) using React Suspense. By following this approach, you can display an instant loading state from the server while the content for a section of a route is loading. The new content is automatically switched in as soon as the rendering finishes.
- Route Handlers: You have the capability to craft personalized request handlers for a specific route by utilizing the Web Request and Response APIs.
- React Server Component: React and Next.js enable you to build hybrid web applications, where certain portions of your code can be rendered on the server or the client side. This section will give you insights into the distinctions among these rendering environments, strategies, and execution times.
- Middleware: It permits you to execute code before a request finishes. Subsequently, depending on the incoming request, you can alter the response by redirecting it, rewriting it, adjusting the request or response headers, or providing a direct response.
- Hot Code Reloading: Next.js provides hot code reloading, which means that if you make any code changes, it refreshes the page rather than the entire application.
- It includes native CSS support
- Optimization for images, fonts, and scripts is built-in
- There's a sizable and engaged community
- Next.js offers inherent support for server-side rendering
- Offers limited flexibility
- Lacks an inbuilt state manager
- It has fewer available plugins
Gatsby is a free-to-use tool for generating static websites (SSG). It’s built upon the React frontend development framework and utilizes technologies like Webpack and GraphQL.
It is handy for constructing static sites that double as progressive web apps, adhere to the most up-to-date web standards, and prioritize speed and security.
This setup enables sites to be hosted via object storage services or content delivery networks (CDNs). It results in faster loading times, simplified hosting, and more straightforward development processes.
- Extensive Open-source Ecosystem: The biggest advantage of Gatsby is its open-source community. With robust API hooks, developers can tailor Gatsby to their needs throughout the building process. This includes importing data, converting data formats, or integrating third-party tools. The Gatsby community has developed more than 2,000 plugins, making it likely that you’ll find a pre-made solution for your needs.
- Built for performance: Gatsby prioritizes performance when constructing websites. Pre-rendering pages and minimizing the reliance on servers to generate content significantly enhances the user experience. In a particular test, the Gatsby static site generator loaded twice as swiftly as a React application and five times as swiftly as a particularly intricate site.
- Integrate with Third-party Platform: The platform is intentionally designed for seamless integration with third-party platforms, enabling developers to import data from various sources swiftly. This enhances the user experience and provides greater flexibility during development.
- Integrates with headless CMSes: A headless CMS separates the content storage from how it’s displayed, so you can use the content on various frontends without being tied to a specific backend. This is especially useful for websites with many digital touchpoints, such as modern online stores. Gatsby is compatible with most headless CMS platforms.
- Gatsby’s Documentation: The Gatsby tutorial sets a high standard for open-source documentation. It’s easy to understand, covers everything from setting up your development environment to getting started with the essential tools, and gives you a good understanding of what Gatsby is all about.
- Thorough documentation
- Built-in GraphQL support
- Quick page loading
- Optimized for search engines
- A wide range of partners and plugins are available
- Plugins vary in quality and are not consistently good
- Gatsby can be difficult to learn
- Building larger websites with Gatsby can lead to slow processing times.
It’s especially suitable for beginners, offers speedy website builds, and delivers fast-loading websites as a default feature. Additionally, it boasts a vibrant and welcoming community.
Eleventy shines when it comes to content-focused websites and is trusted by prominent organizations like Google, Netlify, MIT, CERN, the A11y Project, ESLint, and others.
- Flexible configuration: Eleventy doesn’t need any configuration out of the box, but it offers versatile choices for personalized setup. It’s deliberately designed to work independently of frameworks, build processes, and other tools, allowing you to tailor it to your preferences.
- Adaptable Project Structure: Eleventy operates within your project’s current folder arrangement and produces HTML using the templates, content, and data you supply.
- It is flexible; you can use it to build any website.
- Supports multiple template languages.
Hexo.io is a quick and easy tool for making static websites and blogs. It’s built with Node.js and can be installed effortlessly with NPM.
This tool includes many useful features for quickly making, building, and launching your website. Hexo has an easy-to-use asset management system that lets you arrange and upload your files effortlessly when you deploy your website.
Just like Jekyll, Hexo can also help you move your content from other popular platforms like WordPress.
- Themes: It offers an extensive collection of more than 390 stunning themes that are full of features and can be customized to your liking. You can even make your themes using compatible template engines.
- Plugins: It provides robust APIs that allow for unlimited customization. Numerous plugins support a wide range of template engines like Pug, EJS, Nunjucks, and more. You can effortlessly incorporate it with NPM packages such as Less/Sass, Babel, PostCSS, and others.
- One-Command Deployment: It permits you to deploy your site to platforms like GitHub Pages or Heroku with just a single command.
- Blazing Fast: Its generating speed is incredibly fast, thanks to Node.js. It can build hundreds of files in just a matter of seconds.
- Detail Documentation: Hexo offers comprehensive and detailed documentation that covers everything from installing its command-line tools to setting up your website, generating content, and publishing it.
- Markdown Support: It supports all the features of GitHub Flavored Markdown, including most Octopress plugins.
- Offers exceptional performance
- Allows for one-command deployment
- Provides robust APIs for unlimited extensibility
- You must have Node.js and the command line knowledge to use Hexo.
When working on your project locally, Gridsome provides instant hot-reloading so that you can see your changes immediately. You won’t need external servers or databases since all operations happen directly on your project files.
Gridsome offers a more streamlined knowledge base, including code splitting and link prefetching to guarantee speedy page loading.
- Easy to install: Gridsome includes a CLI (Command Line Interface) that simplifies creating projects. You only have to install it once globally, and it will be available for all your future project creation needs.
- Super-Fast: Gridsome ensures top-notch performance for each page by implementing the PRPL pattern. It automatically provides code splitting, progressive image loading, asset optimization, and link prefetching. As a result, Gridsome websites typically achieve nearly perfect page speed scores without any additional configuration.
- Simple Deployment: With Gridsome, you don’t need servers or databases; just use files. You can deploy your entire website to a Content Delivery Network (CDN) and leave it be. A Gridsome site can effortlessly manage thousands to millions of visitors without any issues and won’t incur expensive server expenses.
- SEO-friendly: Gridsome websites load as static HTML and transform into fully functional Vue.js-powered single-page applications (SPAs). This approach allows search engines to crawl and index the content, improving SEO rankings easily.
- You can use multiple parallel data sources
- Easy to Set up
- It Superfast
- Built-in Jamstack
- There is not yet support for building for multiple different environments.
Nikola is a Python 3 (3.7+) software that’s free and open-source, using the MIT license. Originally, it was designed for creating blogs, but it can be used for various websites and even as a CMS.
However, it’s essential to note that when using Nikola, the content you display to users should be your own, not something generated by the user. One key feature of Nikola-based sites is that they don’t execute any code on the server, which means they can’t process user inputs in forms.
- Host anywhere: You can easily host a Nikola website on any web server, regardless of size. It consists of simple HTML files and associated assets.
- Easily extensible: It allows you to create a plugin with a few lines of Python code to incorporate any desired feature. Alternatively, you can design your theme using Mako or Jinja2. You can also explore the Plugin and Theme Indexes to discover pre-made solutions.
- Built-in components: Nikola includes all the essential tools to construct a contemporary website, including features like blogs (with tags, comments, categories, and archives), user-friendly image galleries, and code listings.
- Multiple input formats: This platform accepts input in various formats, such as IPython (Jupyter) Notebooks, Markdown, reStructuredText, and HTML.
- User-friendly: It features a user-friendly interface to help you start quickly and streamline your tasks. You won’t have to remember complex header details just to create a post.
- Fast rebuilds: Nikola uses doit, which enables incremental rebuilds. This means it only rebuilds the pages that require updating, conserving CPU resources, time, and upload bandwidth.
- Compatible with Python 3.5 and newer versions
- Imports content from multiple formats
- Offers diverse content management system (CMS) choices
- Needs Python knowledge
Statiq is a powerful platform for generating static websites. It’s built on the Statiq Framework, allowing you to expand or customize it beyond its basic capabilities easily.
The simplest way to start using Statiq Web is to install the Statiq.Web package in a .NET Core console application and configure everything using the bootstrapper.
Unlike other static generators that come as standalone executables, Statiq is a framework that operates within your console application.
- Data Agility: Statiq can handle YAML, JSON, and XML formats. It’s built to integrate any data format into any context seamlessly. Whether you’re working with data files or front matter, feel free to use the data format that suits you best.
- Ultimate Flexibility: Statiq is built to offer a straightforward and user-friendly experience, especially in applications like Statiq Web. However, it also allows total customization and control when you want to expand or utilize the full Statiq Framework. You don’t need to compromise your creative vision because of your static generator.
- Templating Choice: Statiq supports various types of content and provides templates that match those content types. It currently supports Markdown and Razor, along with plain HTML. Additionally, it’s planning to add support for languages like Handlebars/Mustache and Liquid in the near future.
- Deployment Built-In: Statiq includes built-in deployment features for common scenarios like Netlify and Azure App Service. It’s also planning to add support for GitHub Pages, AWS, and other deployment options soon.
- Uses Microsoft's .NET platform
- Perfect for websites with a lot of text content.
- Numerous templates
- Less useful for beginners
If you want to use Statiq Web and Statiq Docs for commercial reasons, you’ll need to get a private license, which costs $50. This license covers all releases within the current major version and is required for each developer.
Docusaurus is a free, open-source static site generator (SSG) made by the Facebook team and based on React. It’s great for building websites using Markdown content and particularly handy for teams aiming to publish documentation.
This software is attractive because it’s simple and allows your technical writers to concentrate on content creation. It’s also connected to GitHub, ensuring your documentation syncs with your software releases.
- Powered by MDX: You can write your docs and blog posts in MDX, and Docusaurus will turn them into static HTML files that can be easily served. You can even include React components in your Markdown using MDX
- Built Using React: You can expand and personalize your project’s design by creating React components. Use the adaptable framework to set up your website layout while using the data generated by Docusaurus plugins.
- Ready for Translations: It allows you to use git, Crowdin, or any other translation management tool to translate your documentation and then deploy them separately.
- Content Search: Docusaurus uses Algolia documentation search to simplify locating the information within your documentation.
- Document Versioning: It ensures your documentation remains aligned with project updates.
- It's an open-source tool built on ReactJS.
- It can be self-hosted and self-managed.
- Supports MDX
- No backup and restore
Jekyll is a simple, adaptable, and blog-friendly static site generator that powers GitHub Pages. It remains one of the most popular SSGs.
It is built using Ruby, with excellent documentation and an active and responsive community. You can use Jekyll alongside front-end frameworks like Bootstrap.
While Jekyll starts with a minimal setup by default, you’ll discover many themes and plugins when configuring a custom domain for your static site.
Jekyll takes Markdown or Textile content and Liquid templates, creating a fully static website set to be hosted by web servers like Apache HTTP Server, Nginx, or others.
If you’re experienced with WordPress development, you’ll find Jekyll’s Liquid templating engine easy to learn and use.
You can link Jekyll’s websites to cloud-based CMS tools like Forestry, CloudCannon, or Siteleaf. This allows content editors to change the website’s content without needing coding skills.
- Easy to use and learn, as you use Markdown
- Good security
- High performance.
- Requires Ruby and the command line knowledge.
Conclusion on Best Static Site Generators
The best static site generator for your project will depend on your unique needs and requirements, as each has a unique set of benefits and drawbacks.
When selecting a static site generator, it is critical to consider factors such as performance, ease of use, and community support. Furthermore, it is critical to know the generator’s limitations, such as the built-in templates and the required knowledge of specific languages or frameworks.