Building a website is full of hard choices, and the first one is trying to decide what to build with. Both Jekyll and WordPress specialize in blogging but go about it in very different ways at a fundamental level.
You also need to consider what you are building. For example, consider the websites for a business vs personal blog. Having a static page for a landscaping business makes sense, but a doctor’s office is going to need dynamic pages.
While the platforms can get similar results, it begs the question, which one should I use?
Jekyll vs WordPress: Overview
Before we start looking at these website builders by specific category, let’s take a moment to cover what they are at their core. While they can achieve a similar result, the way the tools were redesigned couldn’t be any different.
Jekyll is a static website generator that specializes in blogging. Users can use a visual editor to create content, the platform will then transform it into a static page that is ready to be viewed. This has multiple advantages.
For example, a static page loads much faster than a dynamic page. Another would be that since the website is static, it has no database. That means there is nothing for a hacker to hack. However, there are also setbacks.
For instance, the platform lacks CMS functionality, which means you are going to need to be comfortable using markdown to edit existing pages. While experts won’t have an issue, this can make it a headache for beginners to even make simple changes like swapping an image.
WordPress is an open-source CMS that began as a blogging platform but has evolved to do just about anything. This is all thanks to the high level of flexibility and customization users have at their disposal.
This is possible because of the huge library of plugins and themes the platform offers. Plugins are small software packages that add specific features to your website. They are the equivalent of apps for your smartphone.
Whereas a theme determines the appearance of your website but can be customized regardless of your choice. With thousands of each to choose from, the only limitation in WordPress is your own creativity.
Note: There are actually two types of WordPress: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. This comparison will focus on WordPress.org, otherwise known as the self-hosted WordPress.
So What’s the Difference?
Both have roots in blogging, but WordPress creates dynamic pages, while Jekyll creates static pages. That said, WordPress isn’t limited to dynamic pages. It can create static pages, but the same isn’t true for Jekyll, which means it’s a bit limiting.
Another key difference is that WordPress does not require the user to create code. Everything can be done by using the Gutenberg editor and various plugins. Jekyll, on the other hand, outputs pages in HTML. So, properly managing your website will require coding.
Let’s see how these stack up in a few key categories.
Ease of Use
The most important factor to consider for most beginners and even experts is how easy the platform is to use. Even if you have the know-how, no one wants to use an overly difficult platform. It’s just not practical.
And due to the way these platforms work, one of them has a clear advantage over the other.
Jekyll is hands down the best static website builder on the market, and creating blog posts is very simple. These can be written as text files and added to the site. This means you can use anything from Notepad to Microsoft Word to write in.
The real problem with Jekyll is after you create a page. The platform doesn’t have its own editor or dashboard. You need to directly edit code in markdown. Now, this isn’t actually hard to do but requires the proper coding knowledge to make the most of it.
As a result, the platform isn’t recommended for first-time website builders. Instead, you need to understand the basics of HTML, which is a big barrier to entry. Especially when most major website builders require no coding knowledge.
WordPress Accessibility: Winner
WordPress dominates the industry with a market share exceeding 40%, and this is only achievable if the platform is accessible. In no uncertain terms, WordPress is easy to use, and it’s not an exaggeration to say a middle schooler could use it.
The platform requires no coding knowledge. Instead, the heavy lifting is done by plugins and themes that would usually take advanced coding knowledge to achieve similar results. And creating content is a cinch.
The platform uses the Gutenberg editor, which is block-based. Each block serves a particular purpose. For instance, if you need to add an image, use an image block. Most are very straightforward to use, which just helps make the experience enjoyable for all.
Without a doubt, WordPress is much easier to use than Jekyll due to not needing any coding whatsoever. Most importantly, the platform allows users to quickly edit any post or page on the fly. This isn’t the case with Jekyll due to the way it is designed.
That said, Jekyll isn’t terribly difficult to use if you understand markdown, but most people who want to create a blog don’t have the technical know-how when starting out. As a result, WordPress is the clear winner.
The standards websites are held to in 2023 are completely different than a decade ago. Having a functional website isn’t enough, it has to look great.
So, the design options each platform offers are critical in your decision.
Jekyll has a small collection of free and premium themes that users can choose from. While many of these are ready to use, due to the low number of options, your website could end up looking identical to someone else’s if you do not make changes.
However, this is really where Jekyll shines as a platform, assuming you have the knowledge. You can fully customize the code of your website’s theme and make it look how you want. In truth, these themes are just the starting point.
Yet, this is a double-edged sword. Coding is powerful when it comes to design, but only when you know how to do it. If you’re not able to code, well, the options at your disposal are not great, because you have no other options.
WordPress Design: Winner
WordPress is known as a platform that can build any type of website, thus you can expect a plethora of options in the design department. As I mentioned earlier, WordPress utilizes themes to alter the appearance of the website, and there are thousands to choose from.
Each one can be customized by tweaking the setting, but the option exists to add custom CSS to alter the appearance, making it ideal for both beginners and experts.
Yet this is just one way to design a site as you can also use a page-building plugin.
These allow you to create pages from scratch and add them to your current theme. And as the most popular CMS, WordPress has a lot of options. This gives you the freedom to choose a tool that fits your skill levels, and most importantly, offers the design choices you need.
A talented web developer can really make Jekyll shine, but the average user cannot, and that isn’t an issue in WordPress. With multiple design options available, users of any skill level can find the tools they need.
In fact, it’s actually possible to build a page in Jekyll and use it in WordPress. Thus, WordPress can literally do everything Jekyll can and more.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
If you’re thinking of starting a blog, you probably already know that SEO is crucial for success. And a big factor in your SEO plans will be determined by the platform you choose.
While both platforms allow you to build the SEO structure from the ground up, one has a clear advantage.
Jekyll gives users complete control over SEO, and while normally, this sounds great, it’s a double-edged sword in this case. If I haven’t made it clear yet, let me double down and say that Jekyll requires coding knowledge to unlock the full potential. Utilizing SEO is no different.
Everything needs to be done manually, as Jekyll lacks a traditional dashboard that modern CMS platforms offer. And due to the sensitive nature of SEO, even the slightest mistake can be a catastrophe.
However, like the rest of Jekyll, this isn’t overly complicated. But if you don’t know at least the basics of HTML, you are not going to be able to do it. Yet, if you have the know-how, the end result can compete with any other platform.
WordPress SEO: Winner
WordPress gives you complete control over SEO, and it’s as good as it sounds. While experts will quickly change the default SEO settings to get better results, they are really easy to modify and there are a lot of plugins that can help you do it.
Speaking of plugins, I can’t help but mention the Yoast SEO plugin. This is the one-stop-shop for all of your SEO needs. It provides tips and recommendations as you write content. Not to mention generating a sitemap you can submit to Google.
Most importantly, WordPress has a huge community. As a result, there is a lot of helpful information for beginners on this topic. Many of them include detailed tutorials that you can follow regardless of your skill level.
Both of these platforms provide complete freedom, but due to how much easier it is on WordPress, I think it’s a better option than Jekyll. That said, Jekyll probably has an edge over WordPress when it comes to page speed, but the difficulty of everything else isn’t beginner-friendly.
At the end of the day, most blogs are looking for a streamlined platform, which is what WordPress provides.
Web Hosting Options
Both of these platforms are free to use, so when it comes to determining a price, you really need to look at the web hosting options available. And as you might expect, the options for both are very different.
Let’s take a look at how Keyll and WordPress hosting stack up to one another.
Jekyll is lightweight, so it can pretty much work on any web server that supports SSH access. Yet, while it is easy to host, not many hosting companies actually list or mention Jekyll by name.
This can make finding a web host a little tricky, or at the very least, limit your options.
In reality, this is by design. Jekyll itself pushes users to get their hosting from GitHub Pages. This is actually a free hosting service and you can get your website going using command lines, which again doesn’t make it beginner-friendly.
This is a great option for those looking to not spend a lot of money, but ultimately, you don’t have a lot of control over the hosting itself. Good for small blogs, but not great for large ones with an eye for monetization.
WordPress Hosting: Winner
WordPress is the most popular CMS, thus you can expect every web hosting company to support it. In fact, it wouldn’t be an understatement to say that web hosts build their business model around WordPress.
As a result, you have a lot of options when it comes to hosting. Most web hosts offer managed WordPress hosting, which just means the host makes sure your website is up to date, secure, and running well. This might sound expensive, but it’s actually cheap.
Most web hosting services will only cost a few dollars a month, but when you sign up, you are expected to pay for multiple years. This means a higher initial cost, but the quality of the service is well worth it.
WordPress is more popular, which means you have a lot more options to choose from than Jekyll. That said, passing up free hosting for Jekyll can be hard for those just looking to blog as a hobby, but ultimately, dedicated WordPress web hosting is superior.
Jekyll vs WordPress: Final Results
It was a clean sweep for WordPress, which is probably what most would expect from the top CMS in the industry. It can simply do everything Jekyll can do, but in a streamlined manner that makes it accessible to all skill levels.
You can definitely get similar results with these tools, but you would have to put in a lot more time and effort to do it in Jekyll. WordPress continues to improve each year and that makes it a great place to build when thinking long term.
Which platform do you prefer?