Tried Netlify for site hosting?

Has anyone tried Netlify for hosting their static site or web app front end?

Any positive or negative experiences?

We’re in the process of evaluating it at the moment. I’m very impressed so far.

The paid plans do seem expensive compared to S3’s static website hosting and even good old website hosting companies. However it is a thoroughly modern approach to hosting a site.

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We moved from a WordPress site on a managed hosting to a static site on Netlify earlier this year. Maybe the best decision of the year!

For the static site generator, we chose Pelican, which may not be the most popular generator out there, but is in the same language as our backend (Python) and hence keep our stack complexity low. Pelican is lean and mean and easily extendable and we’re very happy with it.

A static site is so much easier to manage compared to WordPress !

  • easier to make changes to your look and feel
  • easier to contribute to new content without any weird formatting glitch popping up when using a rich text editor (we use reStructuredText)
  • easier to tune for performance (our Wordpress was fronted by Cloudflare but we still had to manage the cache and occasional caching bugs).

Then comes Netlify and it’s the cherry on the cake:

  • setup in just a few clicks
  • automatic deploys via git
  • automatic asset optimization (css and js concatenations, minifications etc)
  • automatic CDN management
  • simple form backend management
  • our site is noticeably snappier and navigation feels better

A few things to keep in mind when moving to a static site:

  • setting up a theme requires you to “have fun” with html, css and JavaScript
  • image management can be a tad more involved to setup (in our case we had to define different thumbnail sizes, including some retina-ready ones). Once setup, thumbnails are generated automatically at each deploy.
  • you likely won’t be able to always keep a 1-to-1 matching between your Wordpress URLs and the new ones (for example for your media, or for pagination). Netlify makes it easy to setup redirections but it’s important you map out your legacy links (including your backlinks) and make sure you don’t break any of them in the new version.
  • writing articles in Markdown or reStructuredText, although quite straight forward, may not be something non-technical people enjoy. If you outsource your content creation, you may want to check if it’s going to be a problem.

On price, I was so happy by Netlify that I almost wanted them to take my money… but we didn’t find anything in their paying plan that we would need! We stayed on their free plan :wink:

@SteveMcLeod what feature do you consider important in their paid tiers?

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Only for a few non-commercial sites (clubs I belong to) on the free plan with Hugo generator.

Can’t speak for reliability as not using any monitoring but it all seems pretty slick.

Also love that you’re not tied into anything - could swap out for any other host or Amazon S3 in minutes. (though that also includes things like Wordpress I guess with a little more faff).

Wordpress really does suck I feel. God only knows why its so popular.

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+1 for mapping out URL’s for redirects.

There is a tool called Forestry and the idea is to provide non-technical users a web front end for editing the content files stored in GIT - then Netlify pulls changes and re-builds automagically as normal.

Not sure they are quite there yet and doesn’t seem to provide the sort of controls that a CMS does but didn’t look really far into it as not needed for my own use case.

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Was introduced to Netlify by @benedikt about 3 years ago.
Thoroughly enjoy using it!

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I started using it a few weeks ago for my blog and a side project (both using Gridsome) and I love it for its ease of use.

It only took me a few minutes to get each site running including using custom domains and Let’s Encrypt. Most things can be activated / used with one click.

I like that the build speed appears to be quite fast, so I can make quick changes and have them shipped really fast. Both sites are quite small right now, though, so I’m not sure how fast it is when you reach a lot of pages. For my blog I use Netlify CMS, which stores all the posts in git. Therefore it needs to push changes and subsequently build the site every time a post is published or edited, so the speed is rather important to me.

I use Netlify Forms on both sites for simple feedback forms. Integrating them was a matter of a few minutes and they seem to be working quite fast and reliable. They work by just dropping in a modified HTML form and provide spam protection, honeypots and captchas without extra configuration, which is amazing. But besides the forms I haven’t used any of the additional features yet.

I think my biggest challenge will be if I can manage to integrate Netlify Identity in the future. I’m not sure yet what my requirements in terms of user management will be and if Netlify is going to be limiting me in that regard, but I guess I’ll have to find that out.

I also haven’t reached any limits of the free tier yet and I agree the pricing seems to get expensive quickly. All in all I’m very happy with the service right now. Especially its simplicity, speed and out of the box configurations.

If you don’t need any of the additional services or Pro features from the start I would just try it out. You don’t even need to move your domain in the beginning because they provide you with a custom netlify subdomain, so you can check out how your site behaves in a live environment before you fully commit to their services. Best case you like it, worst case you wasted half an hour but can be sure that it’s not for you.

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They are fantastic, super easy to set-up and even their free plan has a ton of features that competitors don’t have. One possible pitfall to be aware of though, they are blocked in Russia. I was completely unaware of this until a couple of customers told me that my website wasn’t working.

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Thanks for the replies.

I was worried that I was being seduced by a shiny new thing, but a) it sounds like Netlify has been around for at least 3 years, which is an eon in Internet time, and b) everyone is really happy with it.

The lack of access for Russia is an issue - I’ll have to check that out.

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Their web site does not open in Russia. Depending on location, either it does not open at all, or missing some resources and works slowly.

I’m using Netlify for https://blog.kowalczyk.info/ and https://www.programming-books.io/

I’m happy with them, especially with the price (I’m paying $0 as I’m not using advanced features).

One complaint I have is that large sites are slow to deploy.

That being said, I’m an outlier here. https://www.programming-books.io/ has over 13k pages, which is giant by most standards.

To follow up, after some experiences today I’m now 100% a fan of Netlify.

I connected Netlify to our website’s GitHub repo. Netlify detected that we use Jekyll and self-configured itself accordingly.

Then one of our team made a GitHub pull request. Netlify automatically built a temporary version of our site using that pull request, and linked to it from the pull request.

All of this with a top-notch UI.

(Just hope they sort out the Russia issue soon. It sounds like they are aware of it, and trying to rectify the issue.)

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For info, it looks like Netlify is working on adding a POP in Russia for their CDN

You can subscribe to this thread to keep up to date: https://community.netlify.com/t/netlify-cdn-or-dns-blocked-in-russia/372/17

I host my marketing site together with docs and a changelog on Netlify. It was a smooth ride all along except a weird incident yesterday where connections would randomly timeout. It remains a mystery to me why that was happening.

I learned yesterday that If you are going to use Netlify with external DNS providers, it is better to stick with ALIAS/ANAME records or CNAME flattening when pointing to your root domain (instead of A/AAAA records pointing to the root).

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Love netlify as well as Publii which is a desktop CMS for writing your blog posts and it builds your static blog through the app and syncs it to netlify, gitlab, github, wherever. Very convenient.