Gatsby vs. Jekyll: A Comprehensive Comparison of Two Powerful CMS

Gatsby vs. Jekyll: A Comprehensive Comparison of Two Powerful CMS


Welcome to our comprehensive comparison guide of Gatsby and Jekyll! As digital leaders and decision-makers, it's crucial to choose the right content management system (CMS) for your organization. In this guide, we will delve into the key features and functionalities of Gatsby and Jekyll, giving you an in-depth analysis to help you make an informed decision.

Foundations of CMS

Gatsby and Jekyll both fall under the category of static site generators (SSGs). SSGs are designed to create high-performing, secure, and scalable websites by generating HTML files before serving them to visitors. One of the main differences between Gatsby and Jekyll lies in the languages they use. Jekyll is built with Ruby, while Gatsby is powered by JavaScript and uses React, the popular JavaScript library.

Gatsby utilizes GraphQL, a query language for APIs, to fetch data from various sources, enabling you to pull data from APIs, Markdown files, CMSs, and more. On the other hand, Jekyll uses Liquid, a template language, which provides flexibility in managing content within templates through variables, loops, and conditionals. Both platforms allow you to create static websites that can be hosted on any web server.

When it comes to ease of use, Gatsby has a slight advantage due to its extensive documentation and a large and active community providing support and plugins. Jekyll also offers a straightforward setup process, but it may have a steeper learning curve for those who are not familiar with Ruby.

In terms of performance, both Gatsby and Jekyll excel as static site generators. Since they generate static files, there is no need for dynamic queries to retrieve content, resulting in faster loading times and improved security. However, Gatsby takes performance to the next level by incorporating a modern JavaScript stack and preloading techniques, resulting in lightning-fast websites.

Design & User Experience

Gatsby and Jekyll provide flexibility in terms of design and user experience. Both platforms allow you to create custom templates and layouts using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Gatsby offers a wide range of ready-to-use themes and templates, making it easier to get started quickly. Additionally, Gatsby has a plugin ecosystem that offers various functionality for creating interactive elements, animations, and transitions.

On the other hand, Jekyll provides a simple and intuitive templating system that allows you to create reusable layouts and components. While it may not have as many ready-made themes as Gatsby, Jekyll provides the flexibility to customize the design according to your specific needs. With Jekyll, you have fine-grained control over the structure and presentation of your website.

A great user experience is essential for any website, and both Gatsby and Jekyll understand this. Gatsby comes with built-in optimization techniques like image and code minification, lazy loading, and intelligent caching, resulting in a smooth browsing experience for visitors. Jekyll, although lacking some of the built-in optimizations of Gatsby, can still deliver excellent performance as a static site generator.

Furthermore, Gatsby incorporates progressive web app (PWA) capabilities, allowing users to install websites as standalone apps on their devices. This enhances user experience by providing offline access, push notifications, and faster loading times. Jekyll, being primarily a static site generator, does not offer these functionalities out of the box, but they can be implemented with additional configurations.

Content Management

When it comes to content management, Gatsby and Jekyll follow different approaches. Gatsby employs a headless CMS strategy, which means you can use any content management system as a backend to handle your content. This flexibility allows you to leverage popular CMSs like WordPress, Drupal, or Contentful, which offer robust content management capabilities. Gatsby's integration with GraphQL provides a powerful querying language to fetch data from CMSs and other sources in a structured manner.

On the other hand, Jekyll takes a more traditional approach to content management by using Markdown files as the primary content format. This provides a straightforward way to create and edit content without the need for a dedicated CMS. You can use a text editor to write in Markdown format and Jekyll will automatically generate the HTML files during the build process. While this approach may be sufficient for smaller websites or blogs, it may become more cumbersome for larger websites with extensive content.

Both Gatsby and Jekyll allow you to manage metadata, create data relationships, and organize content using tags and categories. However, Gatsby's integration with various CMSs provides more advanced features like content versioning, staging environments, and collaboration tools, making it a more suitable choice for organizations that require complex content workflows.

Overall, Gatsby provides a more robust and flexible content management approach, especially for larger websites or organizations that already have established CMS platforms. Jekyll, on the other hand, offers a simpler and minimalist approach suitable for smaller websites or those that prefer a lightweight content management system.

Collaboration & User Management

Collaboration and user management are crucial aspects of a content management system, enabling teams to work together efficiently. When it comes to collaboration, Gatsby shines with its ability to integrate with popular collaboration tools like GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket. This allows for version control, seamless deployment pipelines, and smooth collaboration between developers, designers, and content creators.

Additionally, Gatsby provides built-in support for content localization, enabling teams to manage content in multiple languages simultaneously. This is particularly useful for organizations with a global presence or those targeting multilingual audiences.

On the other hand, Jekyll also supports collaboration using version control systems like Git. By utilizing Git, teams can work together, keeping track of changes and rolling back if needed. However, Jekyll's collaboration features may not be as extensive or integrated as Gatsby's, especially when it comes to large-scale projects or complex workflows.

Both Gatsby and Jekyll offer user management capabilities. Gatsby allows you to manage user roles and permissions through the use of authentication plugins and services. Jekyll, being primarily focused on static site generation, does not have built-in user management capabilities. However, with additional configurations or the use of third-party authentication services, user management can still be achieved, albeit with more manual setup.

Performance, Scalability, & Hosting

Performance and scalability are key factors to consider when choosing a content management system. Both Gatsby and Jekyll excel in these areas due to their static site generation approach. By eliminating the need for server-side processing and database queries, they can deliver lightning-fast websites with minimal resource consumption.

Gatsby, with its modern stack and preloading techniques, takes performance to the next level. Websites built with Gatsby benefit from optimized image loading, code splitting, and lazy loading, resulting in superior performance and faster page load times. Gatsby's architecture also enables automatic caching and intelligent prefetching, further enhancing the browsing experience for users.

Jekyll, although not as feature-rich as Gatsby when it comes to performance optimizations, still offers excellent performance. By generating static HTML files, Jekyll eliminates the need for server-side processing, resulting in fast page load times. Jekyll websites can be hosted on various hosting providers, including GitHub Pages, Netlify, or your own server.

When it comes to scalability, both Gatsby and Jekyll can handle websites of various sizes. However, Gatsby's ability to leverage the power of GraphQL and its integrations with CMSs make it more suitable for larger and more complex websites or applications. Jekyll, on the other hand, may be better suited for smaller, brochure-like websites or personal blogs that do not require extensive scalability.

Customization, Extensions, & Ecosystem

Customization and extensibility play a vital role in choosing a content management system. Gatsby excels in this area with its rich ecosystem and extensive plugin marketplace. Gatsby plugins allow you to easily add functionalities, such as SEO optimization, image processing, analytics, and more, to your website. Gatsby's flexible data layer, powered by GraphQL, makes it easy to create complex data relationships and access data from various sources.

Jekyll, while not boasting the same plugin ecosystem as Gatsby, still offers a variety of plugins to extend its functionality. Jekyll plugins can be used to add features like SEO optimization, analytics, and asset management. Jekyll follows a more minimalist approach when it comes to customization and extensions, allowing developers to have more control over each aspect of the website.

Both Gatsby and Jekyll support themes and templates, making it easier to get started with a pre-designed layout. Gatsby's theme system provides an extensive collection of ready-to-use themes, while Jekyll offers a more curated selection. However, with the flexibility of customization, both platforms allow you to create unique and visually appealing websites.

Furthermore, both Gatsby and Jekyll have active communities, providing resources, documentation, and support. Gatsby's community is particularly large and diverse, with numerous tutorials, starter projects, and plugins available. Jekyll's community, although smaller, is equally passionate and provides valuable insights and assistance when needed.

SEO, Marketing, & Monetization

Search engine optimization (SEO), marketing, and monetization are important considerations for any organization seeking an online presence. Gatsby takes SEO to heart by providing various optimization techniques out of the box. Gatsby websites are built using clean HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, making them search engine-friendly. Additionally, Gatsby generates pre-rendered static HTML files, which can be easily crawled and indexed by search engines, improving organic search visibility.

Gatsby's plugin ecosystem offers a range of SEO-specific plugins that help optimize metadata, generate sitemaps, and implement structured data for better search engine visibility. These plugins, combined with Gatsby's performance optimizations and built-in support for lazy loading images and assets, contribute to creating fast, SEO-friendly websites.

Jekyll, like Gatsby, produces static HTML files that are easily indexable by search engines. Jekyll websites can be optimized for SEO by configuring metadata, structuring content in a hierarchical manner, and generating clean URLs. While Jekyll may not offer the same level of SEO-specific plugins as Gatsby, it provides a solid foundation for implementing SEO best practices.

When it comes to marketing and monetization, both Gatsby and Jekyll provide the necessary features to integrate with marketing tools and advertisement platforms. Gatsby's plugin ecosystem allows for easy integration with popular marketing tools like Google Analytics, HubSpot, and Mailchimp. Jekyll can also be integrated with marketing tools through third-party plugins, although the available options may be more limited compared to Gatsby.

Security & Compliance

Security is of utmost importance when choosing a content management system. Both Gatsby and Jekyll offer robust security by design, thanks to their static site generation approach. Since there is no server-side processing or database interactions, the attack surface is greatly reduced.

Gatsby, being built on modern JavaScript and React, benefits from automatic security updates provided by the JavaScript community. The Gatsby ecosystem also includes security plugins and tools that can be easily integrated. Additionally, Gatsby's approach of using headless CMSs allows you to leverage the security features and protocols provided by popular CMS platforms.

Jekyll, while primarily focused on static site generation, follows best practices for security. With Jekyll, the responsibility of securing the server infrastructure lies with the hosting provider since Jekyll websites are simply a collection of static files. Choosing a reputable hosting provider with robust security measures ensures the safety of your Jekyll website.

When it comes to compliance with regulations such as GDPR or CCPA, both Gatsby and Jekyll can be configured to meet the required standards. Since they generate static websites, the responsibility of complying with data protection regulations lies with the content and data you include in your website.

Migration, Support, & Maintenance

Migrating from an existing CMS or website is a crucial consideration, and both Gatsby and Jekyll provide the necessary tools and resources to facilitate the migration process. Gatsby's flexible data layer makes it relatively easy to pull data from various sources, including APIs, content management systems, and databases. This allows you to migrate content and data seamlessly while preserving relationships and metadata.

Jekyll, although primarily focused on Markdown files, also offers migration tools that can help you import content from other CMS platforms. Jekyll's lightweight and portable nature make it easier to migrate existing content into the platform without significant modifications.

When it comes to support and maintenance, both Gatsby and Jekyll have active communities that provide assistance, documentation, and resources. Gatsby's community is particularly robust, with dedicated support channels, extensive documentation, and a large number of tutorials and starter projects. Jekyll's community, although smaller, is equally passionate and provides valuable insights and support.

Additionally, both Gatsby and Jekyll leverage popular version control systems like Git, allowing you to track changes, collaborate, and roll back if needed. Regular maintenance and updates are important to ensure the security and performance of your website, and both platforms offer straightforward processes for keeping your website up to date.


In conclusion, both Gatsby and Jekyll are powerful content management systems that offer unique features and capabilities. Gatsby, with its modern JavaScript stack, extensive plugin ecosystem, and headless CMS integration, is well-suited for organizations seeking a flexible, scalable, and high-performing CMS. With Gatsby, you have the ability to create visually stunning websites with advanced functionality and seamless collaboration.

Jekyll, although more minimalist in nature, provides a solid foundation for generating static websites. It is a great choice for smaller websites, personal blogs, and those who prefer a simpler workflow. Jekyll offers fine-grained control over design and customization, allowing developers to create unique websites without the need for extensive configuration.

Ultimately, the decision between Gatsby and Jekyll depends on your organization's specific needs, goals, and technical requirements. By considering factors such as design flexibility, content management capabilities, performance optimization, and community support, you can make an informed decision that best aligns with your organization's objectives.


Martin Dejnicki
Martin Dejnicki

Martin is a digital product innovator and pioneer who built and optimized his first website back in 1996 when he was 16 years old. Since then, he has helped many companies win in the digital space, including Walmart, IBM, Rogers, Canada Post, TMX Group and TD Securities. Recently, he worked with the Deploi team to build an elegant publishing platform for creative writers and a novel algorithmic trading platform.