The 5 UX Reasons Why GatsbyJS Will Win Long Term


Published: 2021-08-6


The Emergence Of Front End Frameworks

The increasing complexity of the web has led to a rise in demand for tools that appropriately respond to and manage that complexity.

This complexity has been felt not just by the user (in the form of more information filled, dynamic UI’s), but by the people who are trying to build the tools that manage that complexity (the developers) as well.

The best tools that have come to the forefront, which have succeeded in managing complexity on both sides of the table, have been Front End Frameworks.

On the user’s end, the usage of Front End Framework’s has led to dramatically faster load times, as well as more responsive UI’s. Making the increased information that now needs to be handled by them, much easier to deal with.

On the developer’s side, the use of Front End Frameworks (and the resource that is the vast ecosystems within them) has given them immense leverage, by not having to reinvent the wheels that handle a lot of the complex actions that need to be done on the modern web. It has also allowed developers to no longer have to worry about their feature choices slowing down the site, as the ‘build’ process has offloaded the majority of the heavy lifting away from the browser or any servers that would be connected to it.

Overall, Front End Frameworks have now become a serious consideration for any new project that is intended for the modern web.

The Emergence Of GatsbyJS

Among the many Front End Frameworks that have popped up over the last few years, a few have stood out among the rest as being the ideal choice for the vast majority of use cases.

One that has begun to stand out, in particular, has been GatsbyJS.

It is a framework that I am personally a big fan of, though I have, as with many others, had my fair share of frustrations with it. Despite this, there are a few key UX reasons that I believe will make it the biggest player in the Front End Framework space within the next few years.

Below I will outline what those UX reasons are and why they are crucial to the adoption of Gatsby over other frameworks in the future.

The 5 UX reasons why Gatsby will win long term

1. A FAST installation experience (with the ability to use templates!)

The first thing that caught my attention when I first came across and used Gatsby for the first time was just how easy it was to get something up and running. 

A simple installation of the Gatsby CLI ‘npm install -g gatsby-cli’, followed by a Gatsby creation command that pulled from any relevant repo I wanted (as a template) ‘gatsby new my-tailwind-starter’, was enough to get me a project setup. Once installed, to run it, all I had to do was run ‘gatsby develop’ within my project directory. 

Everything just worked. And I was ready to go quickly. 

The ability to get up and running quickly with a template was key to making this experience both unique and very satisfying. 

In terms of UX, having to ‘start from scratch’ is one of the worst, yet mostly unknown UX mistakes that most new technologies make when trying to attract new users. 

The more you can reduce the overhead to getting the user to a satisfied state of ‘having something’, the better adoption rates you’ll see. 

Gatsby’s fast installation with the ability (even encouragement) to use a template, does this well.

2. A fast-growing ecosystem (plugins and themes)

Getting up and running with new technology is always a situation that requires learning and the use of additional resources, to help make the integration process easier, both mentally and with the technology itself.

The size and activity of the ecosystem that supports and underpins a technology is key to assisting rapid adoption and a positive experience for the users.

The momentum that an active and growing community also makes people very forgiving of errors and mishaps with the technology, which are inevitable, and keeps the plugins, themes, and projects coming because people can usually find solutions (ie. via StackOverflow or Reddit) to their problems as they’re building.

Gatsby, of all the Front End Frameworks I’ve seen, especially for building static sites, has the best community.

3. Easy to read documentation

When you find yourself on the documentation page of the technology you’re using more often than other sources (very common in web dev), you can be sure that that technology has pretty good documentation. Usually, there are many alternatives to technology’s own official docs for most use cases (StackOverflow being one big one). Finding yourself on the official docs more often than not is a good sign.

I find Gatsby’s docs a lot better than the docs I’ve found in a few other Front End Frameworks. 

Gatsby docs are a lot less jargon-filled and easier to parse. This, even when you are a developer who can understand the jargon, is a massive benefit. 

4. A unique design aesthetic that stands out

Most frameworks have forgettable designs.

My guess is that this is partly down to the developer’s focus on how it works rather than how it looks.

Gatsby seems to take a different approach. It’s hard to forget Gatsby’s big purple G once you see it, along with its overall very well designed and consistent website design and general branding. 

This is bigger than people think when it comes to user adoption (which is the most important UX consideration for new technologies), particularly within the front end development space, where the overlap of design and development is only becoming more obvious.

Gatsby is the clear winner in this space. 

5. Strong alignments (bundling) with other key, fast-growing technologies (GraphQL, ReactJS)

Since the beginning of the software industry, bundling has been a key method of growing the market share of individual pieces of software. For the most part, software needs a lot of other parts to work functionally, so the logic behind also selling them together conceptually is a natural extension. 

Microsoft, the largest software company in the world, became (in a now infamous deal) what it is today by bundling its MS-Dos operating system with an early IBM desktop machine.

Apple’s launch of the iPhone, and its eventual dominance in the market was largely fueled by its bundling of its phone with the millions of applications that developers ultimately filled within their app store. 

Within the Front End Framework space, Gatsby has done a very good job of bundling itself with GraphQL. Most searches of GraphQL on Google and YouTube very often pull up a Gatsby related tutorial, which means that in some small way, they are beginning to become synonymous. Even more so than other frameworks have managed to so far.

Gatsby’s close association with the React community has also done a lot to propel its position within the Front End Framework space.

UX Determines Adoption, Adoption Determines Success

Ultimately, among the many Front End Frameworks that exist, Gatsby is built in the right way to succeed. Having hit a lot of the key UX points outlined above, it is the choice I’d most highly recommend for a Front End Developer looking for the right framework to use for your next project.

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