Expanding Our Hosting Horizon: An Exploration of Netlify
Those of you who have been following our blog over the last couple of years know our love for AWS and GCP. However, we also want to give other companies an opportunity in this space.
Switching Gears to Sanity.io and Netlify
Hence we decided to give the integration with Sanity.io (our CMS) and Netlify a try. For those who have no idea what we are talking about, a small introduction. Since a 6-months we have switched to another CMS, which we chose Sanity.io. There are many options, but being a firm believer in a headless CMS, given that this will almost certainly increase our pagespeed score and thus result in (way) better results in SEO. After chasing a CMS, you will need to choose what Front-end Framework you want to use. We chose for a simple Gatsby Framework as we only have public displayable pages.
Hosting Choices: Beyond Free and Cheap Options
Then comes the hosting and as you can imagine there are many options. First, let me tell you that “Free” or “Cheap Hosting” where we started many years ago, is almost certainly going to hurt your results. Their business model is to get as many sites as possible on a single server in order to maximize profits. That is there good right and in many cases this is not necessarily a bad thing. Think websites that are build for Hobby pages. However, for any more serious sport or hobby organization a bigger hosting is oftentimes needed as there is a huge fluctuation of visitors as people might be checking sporting scores during the weekend, but your site might be getting a lot less traction during the week. Those hosting options traditionally start at around $15 USD for a single ubuntu instance.
However, these days a new option is on the market, which is called server less. There are many options there from the more technically advanced do it yourself inside AWS to the more User Friendly Options including netlify.
Our Verdict on Netlify
We have given it a try and here is our conclusion:
1) The Hosting is Solid, it comes with many options including Form Processing (including a spam Filter), a solid CDN and CI is working as expected
2) The setup was easy and we setup staging and production in less than 30 minutes using Github
3) Forms can be integrated with our CRM (Yaaaaaay!)
4) There is a solid Spam Filter on all Form Submissions so we do not need to filter (although on occasion some spam slips through)
5) It is cheap
6) It uses AWS infrastructure and is thus very solid
1) There are weird charges for Build Minutes and we have not been able to see how we could speed that up. Expect to spend $20-$40 USD per month during the build phase
2) Extra Members also cost more money ($15 USD per member)
3) When scaling we expect the charges to go up significantly
4) We do see a variation in performance, which is a concern to us. Sometimes, the site is blazingly fast with response times of <200MS, but other times it is over >600MS. Both are still sort of acceptable, but we are concerned about the ups and downs. This might have to do with traffic hitting the server throughout the day, but for us it be better to have it stable.
Overall, we want to see why sometimes the loading times are not on par. That being said, when opening the site in any browser it feels snappy. I think that Netlify is a solid option for most situations.
Written by Niels Siskens