Whether you should build your website with WordPress or Next.JS depends on your level of competence with Next.JS and the goal of your project.
For owners of a new business who want to test out the market, WordPress is the right choice in 99% of the cases and it is on par with Next.JS SEO. WordPress gets you started within hours and offers a ton of plugins to optimise your site for search engines. WordPress is also much cheaper than hosting your own business website. WordPress is right for you if you are a new business owner, you do not need a very specific website structure and you are ok with WordPress not being able to accommodate extreme niche use cases and a high degree of customization.
Next.JS becomes relevant should you already have an existing business/product (e.g. more than 50,000 visits per month) and you really need to customise your website to a great degree.
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When should I build my website with WordPress?
Building an SEO-optimised website in WordPress is easy. There are a few things you should keep in mind though:
1.) It is important to choose the right theme though. Many themes look like but they are very bloated and slow. I have been using GeneratePress (https://generatepress.com/) and it has served me well. You should make sure that your theme passes the Core Web Vital test. You can check
2.) You should optimise your images. Often, websites have several images which are too big and in the wrong format. This can cause slow loading of your website. Tools like imagify help you to reduce the images to a smaller size and thus increase page loading times. https://imagify.io/
3.) You should install one of the SEO optimising plugins (RankMath or Yoast). These plugins help you to measure the performance of your website, build schemas to better index your website, build your sitemap etc.
With all that in mind, WordPress is the right choice to get a new product out of the door and have great search engine optimization at the same time. WordPress is also cheap. You can host your website for $10 per month and use free plugins. As you have more traffic, your cloud bill might go up to $100 considering you will use a beefy server and pay for pro plugins. If you see success with your product and customers require very special features, building the website yourself can be an option.
When should I build my website with Next.JS?
Next.JS is a popular web development framework which makes it much easier to develop a website that is SEO compliant. Other popular web development frameworks are Gatsby.JS and Remix.JS.
You should use Next.JS if WordPress absolutely cannot be used to solve your problem or if you are curious about learning about SEO and you are ok to struggle for some time. Next.JS gives you more flexibility to optimise your website but you will be responsible for all things SEO. Using Next.JS for your personal website or blog is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
If you decide to use Next.JS, you will be responsible for fast loading of the website, image SEO, canonicals, internals links, schemas, etc. Next.JS also allows you to use a hybrid approach when it comes to rendering. For example, you can decide to use server-side rendering for some parts and static site generation for others. Building a static website ensures that the loading time for sit visitors is blazing fast.
Next.JS gives you the ultimate freedom to design your website exactly how you want it. The downside is that you will also be responsible for everything that goes wrong. Some of the users of Next.JS are TikTok, Netflix, Apple and Twitch ( https://nextjs.org/showcase).
As a first-timer, you can expect to have these challenges when using Next.JS
- You can expect the SEO scores (e.g. Core Web Vitals) to be slower than your WordPress website initially. Site visitors will likely have a worse experience than on a WordPress site. Likely, you will make mistakes with regard to the Core Web Vitals, Image SEO, and responsiveness and only over time will you learn how to optimise all these parameters.
- Hosting costs for Next.JS can be expensive. Assuming that you host Next.JS on Vercel, your backend and your database yourself, you might be looking at a cloud bill of $500-$2,000 per month.
- The cost of web development can be sky-high. Sourcing and hiring Next.JS developers for website development is time-consuming and expensive.
Will you be creating a lot of content?
WordPress sites can benefit from using one of the many powerful CMS solutions (e.g. rankmath) that give your marketing and media teams a nice interface and live annotations. This is not a trivial issue. Asking your content writers to use a clunky interface with batteries excluded will reduce their productivity.
Next.JS offers a number of content management systems (CMS). Using them is not often very straightforward.
Next.JS headless CMS have a few disadvantages
- The Next.JS CMS solutions need to be integrated into your website. You need to connect the frontend or backend to the data source and ensure high page speed and optimization for search engines. The frontend engineer also needs to build the blog page components. Likely, there will be bugs or revisions needed, which require more web developer resources.
- Next.JS CMS can be very clunky making it hard for your writers to format the text and add images. The CMS solutions also often miss any AI assistance helping the writer to improve their content.
- You may incur additional costs. For WordPress you only pay for the hosting and the CMS is included. For high-volume websites and multiple user roles, Next.JS CMS solutions will start to charge you.
Next.JS CMS is great for large websites which have the need for strong customisation and have the engineering resources to support the integration. WordPress does not offer this flexibility.
To get the best of both worlds, some teams host a WordPress site (and block all traffic to it). Their content creators use the content management system of WordPress and then Next.JS loads the content from the WordPress instance.