Website Technology Has Gotten Too Complex

3 minute read

Has technology always been this complex?

My tech blog is once again live. And, I have to say that it took me longer than I thought it would to switch over from WordPress. I will get into why I moved later, (that is a topic for another day), but it still amazes me how complex things are to get up and running and configured. For this post, that is where I am going to spend my time, talking about the complexities involved in setting up a simple website.

The basics of a website

For the majority of companies and people, a hugely interactive website is massive overkill. Wait, let me think about it…. Nope, this is absolutely true. What used to be a server side rendered informational kiosk has now become a complex nightmare of JavaScript and client side rendering. This holds true mostly for business sites, but more and more individual sites are falling into the same trap, making something complex because you can, not because you should.

I remember in the early days of the web, a large number (I don’t know how large), were nothing more than straight HTML. For a store that has 5 pages about them and their services, this was all they really needed. The extent that they needed any automation was a form for ‘contacting us’ that had to send an email. Many of these were built by hand, dreamweaver, or even Microsoft FrontPage. There was no backend database, there was not automated configuration. It was simple. And, uploading it was simple as well, simple FTP and you were done.

Times have changed

I will admit that some of the old websites were painful to look at. But, at the same time, anyone with a text editor and ftp could create and get a site up and running. But, as with all things, times have changed. We have moved into an age where all the square edges have to be rounded, and visual looks take precedence over quality information or functionality.

At the same time, there are some authors that have kicked the trend. Now that I have said that I need to go find some of them. And, using Jekyll, or a dynamically generated static site is a step in that direction. It is simple from the view standpoint, but even getting a simple Jekyll website up is not for a layman. Instead, it takes knowledge of installing Ruby, configuration files, and html or templating.

Now do not get me wrong. I am not going back to writing this website in straight HTML with CSS. I have moved on from there. There is a reason one of the largest used pieces of software on the internet is WordPress. For the majority of use cases, it just works. It makes it easy for someone that is not proficient at code to get a website up.

Complexity increases cost

The downside to this complexity is increased cost and performance. I am curious what it is going to cost me to run this website. I am running it on S3 behind CloudFront. I could have used a 3rd party, but I wanted to see if I could do it, and I did. I do not have an automated build or infrastructure yet, but that will be coming soon. But, I expect my bill to be less than $5 a month. And, it should load fast.

Now, with something like WordPress, you can get a starter price for a year at about $7 or so a month. And, depending on the company and the shared server you are on, the performance can be fine, or there can be up to a 3 or 4 second delay for load times. This is because that frontend has to hit a DB for every single page load. With all those moving parts, there is a chance for any component to be slowed down.


I don’t know what my original point this post was supposed to be. Just getting this new (old) site published was a pain, and getting analytics setup was less than optimal.

Overall, things have gotten better. But, maybe once in a while, we should just stop and ask, how can we keep it simple.