WordPress is a great Content Management System, and it's difficult to find a reason why not to use it, unless… you don't really need a CMS. What you need is a simple static site that doesn't require a database to store its content, and can be loaded as fast as a lightning. Well, guess what? There is a solution that can combine both WordPress' ease-of-use and loading speed of a static website.
Simply Static is a WordPress plugin that allows you to create a static version out of your WordPress website. Every page, every post that you have on your site will be transformed into a static HTML document. Let's take a closer look at this plugin and discuss in which cases you can use it.
Why Would I Need an HTML Version of My Site?
Let me make it clear, converting your WordPress site into static HTML pages is not for everyone. You won't be able to use your admin panel, and all the content would be locked. There is also no possibility to add new posts or pages, or do anything regarding your content, other than manually editing it in the text editor.
You should do it only in case you know that you don't need to make any changes to your site. Perhaps you use your site as a visiting card, and although all your pages are generated by PHP and the content is pulled from the database, there's no real need to update your site's content. If that's the case, then migrating to a static HTML version would make sense. The benefits include:
- Security. Have you heard of anyone who can hack into an HTML site? Unless they have a direct access to your server, there's no chance an HTML site would be hacked. With WordPress, however, situation is different. Since it's the most popular CMS and takes up to 60% of the market share, hackers from all over the world are trying to find vulnerabilities and exploit them. Sometimes even successfully. With HTML version of your site however, this problem won't even exist. You don't have a database, and the server would simply serve static pages. If a page doesn't exist, the visitor gets an error, that's it.
- Speed. Speed is a hot topic today, but achieving a fast loading website can be quite tricky. Database queries take time to execute, and the more functionality your site has the more difficult it would be to make it load fast. However, the HTML version of your site doesn't need to establish connection to databases, it doesn't have any! All the content is located directly in your HTML files that server sends to the browser.
Once you have installed Simply Static, the first thing you need to do is to specify the destination URL, where the HTML version of your WordPress site is going to be located. Go to the Settings panel and enter the new address:
For example, this can be a subdomain, or a subfolder in your current directory. Once you have specified the desired location, go to 'Generate' panel and click 'Generate Static Files'.
It would take some time to generate the static files, especially if you have a large number of posts and pages. When the process is finished, you'll be provided with a link to download the archive with an HTML version of your site.
Download the archive and unzip it into your new location. This should be the location which we specified previously, otherwise all the links on your site will be pointing to a non-existing direction.
A Note of Caution
Simply Static generates static files only, such as HTML, CSS, JS, images, etc., but you won't be able to use any functionality that requires PHP. That includes contact forms, comments, eCommerce, membership features, etc. If you would still like to have the comments and contact form functionality enabled, you can use third party tools such as Disqus and Wufoo.
Being able to generate an HTML version of your WordPress site is a valuable feature you should be aware of. What do you think about it, would you like to try it out? Or perhaps you know some similar tools that deal with the same problem? Let us know in the comments below.