Recently, we sent out a survey asking people in the Gatsby community how they would define Gatsby and what they value most about Gatsby. The results are in, and I want to share them with you! Thanks to everyone who filled out the survey.
Here’s the original survey if you’d like to see the questions (it’s closed to responses).
Stats on survey respondents
- 122 responses
- 108 of them build sites for clients and/or their company
- All of them have heard of Gatsby before taking the survey
- 90% of them have used Gatsby before taking the survey
Why did we do the survey?
Because we get tons of new visitors to the gatsbyjs.org homepage each month, we want to make sure we’re accurately representing Gatsby’s value there. This goal led to ask these questions:
- What definition of Gatsby appeals to people and why does it appeal to them?
- What values are crucial to our target audience and why are those values crucial?
- If Gatsby users share their definitions and values that are different than what we expect, what are they, and why did we not anticipate those?
What definition of Gatsby appeals to people and why?
2 results came in neck & neck. 34% of people preferred: “Gatsby is a free, open-source, modern website generator based on React to create and deploy blazing fast websites or apps with ease” while 31% preferred “Gatsby is a free, open-source, modern website framework that builds performance into every website by leveraging the latest web technologies such as React and GraphQL.”
Here are some reasons people prefer these definitions, with a healthy dose of controversy over some wording (from what I’ve seen, arguing over wording is more than a little common for programmers :):
- “I like open source and React for sure. Moreover the with ease part is a winner. Web development is becoming more complex. So WITH EASE is something refreshing.”
- Omitting GraphQL (34%) won slightly over including GraphQL (31%). There’s likely heated controversy here.
- “It doesn’t scare people away with GraphQL, and makes it clear Gatsby can be used for more than just content sites.”
- “I think baked-in GraphQL is an important feature that distinguishes Gatsby from other options (like Next or Nuxt).”
- Including “blazing fast” seems to win over excluding it, though this also brings up controversy:
- ““Blazing Fast' is the Gatsby catchphrase, keep using it! This statement also focuses more on what Gatsby does rather than the technologies it uses.”
- “Other than using trendy word "blazing" that sounds about right.”
Is Gatsby a site generator or framework?
Another point of controversy worth diving into is this: Is Gatsby more of a site generator or a framework?
From generator supporters (the 34%):
- "The mention of "generator" and "deploy" stuck out to me as two of the things that are most relevant when defining Gatsby. I would like for it to say static site generator as I've never heard someone just use generator by itself. I think deploy is important because of how easy the process is with static sites."
- "Does what is says on the box. generator more on the money that framework"
- "More of a generator than a framework, and blazing fast is a must :D"
- I would add "static website generator", as it's the crutch to what Gatsby does.
From framework supporters (31%):
- "because imho gatsby is a set of tools, that help you with the heavy-lifting of creating web products, it’s a framework, a very amazing and flexible framework :)"
- "I would like it to be framework agnostic, like Hugo. React is good but not perfect… and so is Vue. Vanilla JS remains the best."
- “Gatsby provides so much functionality that I would never be able to build myself, while still empowering me to build any website or web app I want. All this comes with low-to-no costs for deploying projects, and is an immensely valuable tool. To make things even better, I get to use my favorite technologies without having to learn a bunch of proprietary conventions like other frameworks.”
What do people value about Gatsby and why?
Programmers at both agencies and companies turned out to have the same top 3 values: Gatsby gives them fast websites, performance out-of-the-box, and productivity from the start. We see these values is interrelated and yet distinct.
Gatsby gives you fast websites where pages load in milliseconds rather than seconds. Fast sites lead to greater lead generation, higher revenue/ROI, and better user experience.
At agencies, 54% of people said this was crucial: “Blazing fast, SEO website on the edge… This is the hard stuff. Security and hosting have solutions already.”
At companies, 56% said this was crucial: “People will ignore sites that are slow, therefore speed is essential. I want to keep the cost as low as possible as my site won't make much money.”
Gatsby gives you expert performance optimization and speed, out-of-the-box by default.
At agencies, 54% said this was crucial: “Gatsby performance out of the box helps me worry about my user experience instead of load times.”
At companies, 44% said this was crucial: “Performance and flexibility to use any data source is crucial because we have multiple types of sources of data and being able to use them is absolutely necessary.”
Productive from the start
Gatsby makes you productive right from the start — it takes away the overhead of time-consuming dev and build tooling setup and configuration which leads to faster iterations.
At agencies, 49% said this was crucial because “it makes the creation of optimal websites a breeze, [and] it’s important to have a fast workflow.” Another respondent said “I use Gatsby mostly at the agency I work at. Previously we were building WordPress sites and we would spend a ton of time manually configuring and setting things up to get gatsby level speeds and security. Essentially I chose gatsby because all of these things were crucial and gatsby ticks all the boxes.”
At companies, 43% said this was crucial. “It's f*cking fast to dev with, ultimate performance and also good points for the "serverless" with solutions like Netlify.” Another person mentioned that with Gatsby, there’s “less tooling to get started. I like building websites fast, and focusing on content and design, instead of build/deployment.”
Slightly less crucial values
Many people still marked these values as crucial things that Gatsby gives them. Just not as many people marked these as crucial as the top three values listed above, though we know they are still crucial to some! Here they are:
- Best of both worlds: Gatsby empowers creators to build web experiences that leverage the benefits of both static sites (SEO friendly, fast) and web applications (dynamic data, interactive) — simultaneously.
- Bring your own content: Gatsby consolidates your data (source agnostic- CMS, static files, database, etc.) into a single, predictable, queryable layer.
- Low to no hosting costs: Gatsby eliminates the need for traditional hosting costs because the site is hosted on the edge (Content Delivery Network).
- Instantly scalable: No servers and no databases to manage with a website that never goes down because it’s built on the edge, instantly scaling for traffic spikes.
- Secure: Gatsby websites are inherently more secure because there are no servers involved. All your content is compiled ahead of time so hackers can’t get to your database or into your CMS. And your site is more resilient to DDoS attacks because the biggest point of failure — a server — is no longer part of the equation
Here are some more values that community members listed that we hadn’t listed in the survey: a welcoming community, plugins, accessibility matter to Gatsby users, and that Gatsby is fun AND easy to use. It’s good to know these things are valuable because then we can keep building on our successes and refining Gatsby’s ability to provide this value.
The community around Gatsby is outstanding! From the store, all the public events, Twitter, podcast appearances, insane activity in the repository.. anytime I've needed help I've been able to easily find it, or get it from one of the above.
Plugin ecosystem: it's growing quickly and it's a nice way to contribute and engage with others. I've met some great folks because of it Plugins and ability to use npm gives you a huge ecosystem to draw on.
Easy & fun
“Fun”! I really enjoy working with Gatsby. It works the way it should and sometimes even exceeds my expectations.
The most concrete next step is to redesign the .org homepage with what we learned from this survey.
Here are some ideas to keep in mind throughout for a potential redesign of the .org site:
- If we stick with “blazing”, it will be a bit controversial and it might help to change the tone to playful or lean into it somehow
- If we say Gatsby is a framework, we will need to define that word since Gatsby’s history is as a static site generator
- We should give examples of how fast Gatsby sites are, because speed is relative.
- We ought to emphasize and build on these three values: fast sites, performance out of the box, productive from the start. If we don’t go with that, we need to be aware that we are teaching people something new that they don’t necessarily expect, which is fine if we want to do it!
[I didn’t think the value Gatsby provides was] that crucial until I experienced it firsthand.
How you can participate
- Comment on the RFC about redesigning the .org homepage
- Sign up to receive a newsletter whenever there is an upcoming test for Gatsby users, such as testing the .org homepage.