A website’s loading speed and SEO optimization are the performance cornerstones of any business looking to gain and retain customers online. It goes without saying - slow page loading puts users off. This results in high bounce rates and poor search engine rankings, which means missed opportunities and lost revenue.
Fortunately, there's a well-tried solution that can help you never miss out either on prospects or profits - website creation with the powers of Gatsby development.
Let’s explore why Gatsby is a great choice for building fast and SEO-friendly websites, how it works under the hood, and what kind of outcomes you can expect. Based on our own experience with Gatsby-powered site building, we also provide some pro tips on how to squeeze the most out of Gatsby's features and capacities.
But let’s start from the top.
Gatsby is a widely used React-powered static site generator that enables fast website building with inherent performance optimization in mind. Traditional CMS platforms generate pages on demand in real-time. In turn, Gatsby offers pre-built pages and assets that are rendered as is, cutting the load on the server and boosting the overall website speed.
Powered by modern web tech such as React, GraphQL, and Node.js, Gatsby is powerful and versatile, running on the architecture set for scalability, security, and speed.
Its website caching and image optimization features help to accelerate things further. And its code-splitting options and GraphQL APIs allow for dynamic content loading, while the content’s pre-rendering ensures that all pages are SEO-friendly.
Faster website load times are a key factor considered by Google's site speed ranking algorithm. So this is how Gatsby development hits two marks with one shot, boosting SEO optimization along with the loading speed.
How is this implemented in practice?
Gatsby-based web development is a well-tried-and-tested approach that some extremely renowned industry giants adopted. Here are some successful examples of big business websites that run on Gatsby:
- IBM Developer: IBM put Gatsby in the foundation of a fast and engaging website dedicated to its developer community. This is, basically, a huge database of documentation, tutorials, forums, and events that help developers learn and connect with IBM's technologies. The site’s combination of minimalistic design and perfect performance certainly make it stand out from the crowd.
- Smashing Magazine: Smashing Magazine employed Gatsby to create an up-to-date, responsive website for its web design and development community. Again, this is sort of a repository of themed articles, books, courses, and job boards that help up-and-coming web developers and designers stay informed and hone their skills. And the site’s professional air perfectly reflects its educational attitude.
- Airbnb: Airbnb used Gatsby to create a scalable and secure website for its marketplace of accommodations for rent. The resource efficiently packs advanced search, booking features, and review sections into an inviting, lightning-fast user experience. One that helps travelers easily discover and book places to stay around the world.
- NASA: Yes, NASA chose Gatsby to create a fast and accessible website for its astronomy and science community, too. The resource packs a lot of heavyweight ultra-hi-res images and videos, and complex data that help researchers and enthusiasts explore and discover the universe. This calls for a sturdy foundation, and Gatsby seems to cope with the task seamlessly.
You can already see how well-recognized Gatsby is among today’s digital leaders. But to back it all up with firsthand facts, here’s our own take on Gatsby development in terms of a project we successfully implemented - our own website.
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Our Own Gatsby Development Case
Technical implementation kick-off
It all started with us setting out to speed up our website’s performance and boost its SEO rankings. Initially, we tried to optimize the performance using basic optimization methods without any changes to the framework and significant refactoring. The goal was to first cover the recommendations provided by the standard SEO optimization benchmark. The following things were done:
- Enabled the Imgproxy image on-fly to resize/compression tool;
- Fonts optimization;
- Cleaned up unused JS elements;
- Cleaned up unused HTML/CSS elements;
- Updated the deprecated vendors (Bootstrap, Twig, etc.)
- Enabled lazy-loading algorithms.
These were the results of the first optimization run:
As you can see, we didn’t get much of a speed-up. So we decided to find an alternative solution that would help us achieve better results.
By that time, we have already had the experience of implementing Gatsby powers across several client sites. And we were pretty impressed with the results. After thorough research and analysis, we decided to implement Gatsby for our own website development project.
The process of migrating our website from a traditional CMS to Gatsby definitely posed some challenges. But we were able to overcome them and reap the benefits of this innovative tool - and so can you.
One of the primary challenges we faced was dealing with dynamic content. Since Gatsby is a static site generator, it doesn't handle dynamic content the same way a traditional CMS does. However, we were able to fix this by utilizing Webhook to pull in dynamic content as needed and GitLab API to automate content-rebuilding tasks.
We also had to address issues related to our former Symfony backend application and its compatibility with Gatsby. We discovered that some of the content and functionality we had previously implemented did not translate well to Gatsby, and required major modifications to work properly.
On top of that, we implemented such best practices for website speed optimization as website caching, image optimization, and code splitting. By putting a firm focus on performance, we managed to improve our site’s speed ranking and provide an all-around better user experience.
To make our website universally accessible, we also utilized Gatsby's progressive web app (PWA) capabilities to achieve mobile-friendliness and responsiveness. All in all, server-side rendering and page pre-rendering gave a felt boost to our website's performance metrics across the board, allowing us to provide a fast-loading, seamless user experience on all devices.
The outcomes of our Gatsby implementation speak for themselves:
- Page load times decreased by over 50%
- Major improvement across search engine rankings
- Positive client and stakeholder feedback
Not only did we achieve significant improvements in website speed and SEO, but we also experienced increased rates of user engagement and satisfaction. Furthermore, our website's mobile optimization and responsiveness greatly improved thanks to Gatsby's PWA capabilities.
Overall, our experience with Gatsby has been overwhelmingly positive. We highly recommend Gatsby to anyone looking for a fast and effective front-end development tool.
Post-project pro tips
Based on our firsthand experience with Gatsby, we would recommend it for a wide range of website development projects. It is particularly well-suited when you need to launch a fast website building workflow without sacrificing a bit of performance and making a strong competition to other SEO-friendly websites.
However, we also realize that Gatsby may not be a one-for-all fit. For projects that must handle complex dynamic content loading, other specialized frameworks may be a better choice. Moreover, developer teams that are not familiar with the React framework or server-side rendering must first gain knowledge and experience in using Gatsby.
So to sum it up, we believe that Gatsby is an excellent choice for web development teams looking to build fast, responsive, and SEO-friendly websites without overloading and overcomplicating things.
All things said and done, a Gatsby development approach offers many advantages, including fast project implementation sprints, out-of-the-box performance optimization, and SEO-friendliness.
We've witnessed major improvements in our own website's speed and performance metrics after migrating to Gatsby, and we highly recommend it as a perfect tool to rehaul your user experience and search engine rankings.
Contact us if you're interested in learning more about Gatsby development or need help with your website development project. We are looking forward to sharing our expertise and providing the best-fitting solution for your needs and budget.
What is Gatsby development, and how is it different from traditional CMS platforms?
Gatsby development is a static site generator powered by modern web technologies such as React, GraphQL, and Node.js. Unlike traditional CMS platforms, Gatsby generates pre-built pages and assets that are rendered as is, cutting the load on the server and boosting the overall website speed.
How does Gatsby development improve a website's loading speed and SEO optimization?
Gatsby's website caching, image optimization features, and code splitting options allow for dynamic content loading, while the content's pre-rendering ensures that all pages are SEO-friendly. Faster website load times are a key factor considered by Google's site speed ranking algorithm, and Gatsby development hits two marks with one shot, boosting SEO optimization along with the loading speed.
What are some successful examples of big business websites that run on Gatsby?
Some well-known websites that run on Gatsby include IBM Developer, Smashing Magazine, Airbnb, and NASA. These websites utilize Gatsby's scalability, security, and speed to provide fast and engaging user experiences while offering advanced features such as search, booking, and review sections.
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