TABLE OF CONTENTS

NEXT.JS

Next.JS is a free and open-source Java Script framework based on React that helps developers build blazing-fast websites and apps.

  • 2016
    Created in
  • Total freedom in execution
  • Great for content-heavy websites
  • Support both SSR and SSG
VS
GATSBY JS LOGO WHITE

GATSBY.JS

Gatsby.JS is a React-based free and open-source framework that helps developers build blazing-fast websites and applications. It offers built-in performance, scalability and security.

  • 2017
    Created in
  • Easy to start with
  • Rich plugin ecosystem
  • Great for small websites

Next JS vs Gatsby JS – Which One To Choose in 2023?

Next js vs Gatsby Js - Which One to Choose in 2023

Intro

Server-side rendering (SSR) for React apps gave birth to many great features, possibilities, and tools.

However, its brother – Static Site Generation (SSG) enabled us to easily build static websites (superfast, SEO-friendly, lightweight), and we can gladly observe one of the hottest competitions at the moment, between two of the most popular SSG technologies: Gatsby.js vs Next.js.

Meanwhile, we’ve also been introduced to Jamstack – a web development architecture that makes scaling up much easier (also thanks to its static site generator) and both Gatsby.js and Next.js are in the middle of the Jamstack world.

Both are great for building static sites, both are growing quickly, and both are loved by developers and unconsciously by users.

The question remains: which one is better to work with? And, of course, in which case?

Not in the mood for reading? No worries! Watch our Next.js vs Gatsby.js comparison video!

youtube video about the differences betweeb gatsby vs nextjs

Gatsby vs Next.js – best of Jamstack

If you want to build a React powered and indexed by Google web application you may want to choose between Gatsby and Next.js which are the most popular tools to do this job.

Of course, choosing the right tech stack depends on your project requirements, but let’s assume you want to build a Jamstack static site that needs to be:

  • Indexed by Google, because you want to grow your organic traffic,
  • Performant, because you want to provide the best user experience possible,
  • Written in React, because of its component-based approach for building user interfaces,
  • Integrated with a headless CMS because you need to be able to change content frequently,
  • A scalable website, because you reach to gain more and more users

Similarities between Gatsby.js and Next.js

As they both are great to build Jamstack websites, let’s have a look at what makes them similar.

Benefits of Next.js and Gatsby.js

Performant and SEO-friendly websites.

Thanks to static site generator (SSG) and server-side rendering (SSR) in both Gatsby and Next.js, your web app can be indexed in Google much more easily.

This enables you to attract many more visitors through organic search traffic.

To rank higher:

  • Your content needs to be well-written and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efficient,
  • You need to provide a great user experience for your visitors,
  • You need to take care of website speed metrics.

And this is where performance really matters.

Gatsby is a perfect tool for achieving performance results, as it generates static HTML for final users (and in fact also search engines).

But not to leave the competitor behind, exactly the same thing is possible with Next JS development services. So in the case of the performance of the entire page, both allow us to achieve truly outstanding results. We’ve created a comprehensive guide to Next.js – you can download it below.

Incremental build (React behind)

An obvious similarity in the competition of Gatsby vs Next.js is that both are using React framework so you can benefit from all of the cool stuff like:

  • Component-based approach,
  • A lot of UI kits are available that can shorten the time for development,
  • wide access to developers,
  • great DX – developer experience (devs like to work with React),
  • and much more.

But one of the top functionalities is incremental build (or even an incremental static that enables developers to make changes in the content without updating the whole page, which can significantly reduce the building time.

The question arises:

why do I even need GatsbyJS or NextJS? isn’t React good enough?

To put it simply, React by itself works only on the client-side (your browser) and cannot be server-side rendered. In other words, the key difference is that it does not provide all the super speed and SEO blessings at the level of Gatsby or Next.

Best of Jamstack

Both Gatsby and Next.js are following the Jamstack architecture we mentioned before.

By reading the official source, you can learn that Jamstack allows you to get:

  • Much better performance even for the users with slow internet connections thanks to the fact that the page statically generate
  • higher security,
  • better developer experience
  • complete control of the content
  • prepare the website accordingly to personal preference
  • building the entire application with the tech stack of your choice
  • different frameworks support

Simplifying web development

Another similarity in the competition of Gatsby vs Next.js is that those two frameworks are providing a boilerplate – a fixed project structure that needs to be followed during the development.

Having a boilerplate has many great advantages. For example:

  • comprehensive documentation of the Next js or Gatsby site
  • better tooling,
  • easier setup,
  • better development experience,
  • easier project handover.

Thanks to that, both Gatsby and Next.js can significantly simplify and speed up the React app/website development cycle.

A choice of big players

Both Gatsby and Next.js are used by big players who care about technology and are future-proof professionals.

Next.jsGatsby.js
Mobile version of Twitch,
Netflix Jobs website,
Hulu,
IGN,
TikTok,
InVision.
Airbnb Engineering,
Impossible Foods,
Braun Canda,
Figma,
SendGrid,
Nike.

Source: https://start-up.house/en/blog/articles/gatsby-or-next

Key Differences between Gatsby vs Next.js

Both Next.js and Gatsby are great for building super-fast and SEO-friendly websites, and the decision about which one to choose is really a matter of your project requirements.

Let’s now have a look at differences, to help you map and decide which is best in your case.

Data handling and rendering methods

Gatsby.js

Gatsby js originally started as a static site generator (SSG), where it would pre-render pages at build time. This means that the pages are generated during the build process and served as static HTML and assets. This approach provides excellent performance and SEO benefits.

Later, Gatsby introduced server-side rendering (SSR) and client-side rendering (CSR) capabilities. This option (in version 2.0) allowed developers to opt for server-side rendering on specific routes instead of the traditional pre-rendering. This allowed for dynamic content fetching on the server side and combining it with the static content.

Gatsby’s data handling is deeply integrated with GraphQL. In Gatsby, you can source or load data from various plugins and APIs using GraphQL queries. Gatsby’s data layer (or GraphQL data layer) allows you to fetch data at build time and create static pages with that data. This pre-rendered approach is highly performant and SEO-friendly.

You can also use Gatsby’s “Server Rendering APIs” to perform SSR for dynamic content. This involves data fetching on the server side during runtime and combining it with statically generated content.

But there’s even more. In 4.0 version, Gatsby introduced Deferred Static Generation (or DSG) – a rendering method that seeks to delay or defer the building of certain pages until run-time. These deferred pages are marked during build-time and then actually built during run-time. 

Next.js

On the other hand, Next js initially was a server-side rendering (SSR) tool, but since version 9.3 it also supports static site generation. But there’s more for Next.js, as it has an Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR), which allows you to create or update static pages after you’ve built your site. In other words, it makes building dynamic websites even easier.

In this case, Next.js is much more flexible, as he enables developers to decide themselves how to approach data fetching.

Additionally, in 2023 Next.js 13 was released, promising an even better future!

The list of Next.js benefits is growing with every release. The most important among them are:

  1. Turbopack, the new Rust-based successor to Webpack brings: 700x faster updates than Webpack, 10x faster updates than Vite and 4x faster cold starts than Webpack
  2. And of course, Next.js App router – this new paradigm of building apps was released at the beginning of May 2023. We can say it opens the doors to upgraded developer experience, rendering performance, and the mental model. This update brought new benefits, like:
  • Streaming app elements to the user – Thanks to using React Server Components, app elements can be streamed to the customers in the blink of an eye, so they can interact with an app without waiting for the full load
  • Rapid render of the application using static rendering methods
  • Enhanced development efficiency thanks to the server-centring routing
  • Server Components allow you to define components that execute on the server during rendering and then stream updates on the user requests. This process provides benefits such as improved initial load times, reduced JavaScript bundle sizes, and improved SEO.

Community

Jamstack websites took web development by storm. So did Next.js and Gatsby.

React Developers immediately picked it up and fell in love, as it was extremely pleasant to work with.

However, we can see a huge difference between Next.js and Gatsby in this matter, taking StackOverflow Insights as a source point. Next js has a large community that is ready to answer all your questions in the matter of minutes.

comparison between next.js and gatsby at Stack Overflow

On top of that both Next.js and Gatsby been listed as most Wanted, Loved and Dreaded Frameworks and Tools, in which Next.js is winning the battle significantly.

Most Loved vs Dreaded Web Frameworks and Tools in 2022

A table showing the most Dreaded and Loved web technologies and tools in 2022
Source: https://survey.stackoverflow.co/2022/#most-loved-dreaded-and-wanted-webframe-love-dread

Most Wanted Web Frameworks and Tools in 2022

A table showing the most wanted web technologies and tools in 2022
Source: https://survey.stackoverflow.co/2022/#most-loved-dreaded-and-wanted-webframe-want

Plugins, themes, extensions, integrations

Gatsby.js provides very reach plugin ecosystem, which can make your life a bit easier

On the other hand, Next js is encouraging you to build everything by yourself, which gives you pretty much unlimited possibilities and freedom in the execution. It means Next is better for ultra customized projects.

Still hestitating between Next.JS and Gatsby.js?

Real-world use cases of Gatsby Sites

gatsby logo

The great source of Gatsby sites examples is Gatsby Showcase but to have a full picture of Gatsby features let me present you a few other examples.

Corporate websites (companies, service websites, quick landing pages)

Corporate websites are like digital business cards. They need to work superfast and are not updated very frequently. And that’s a perfect case for a static site landing pages.

These kinds of websites are displaying the same information for anyone visiting the site (no user authentication & register functionalities, just plain information).

So, a corporate website requirements will be:

  • Great user experience (preloading)
  • Great performance (Google Page Speed)
  • Full SEO support (static HTML output)
  • Integration with (headless) Content Management System (CMS)

As Gatsby static site generator performance is better than Next JS server side rendered websites together with SSG, Gatsby is the winner for building static corporate websites.

In corporation entire site should be managed by CMS and this is also why it wins over Next, as Gatsby supports plugins to get content from almost all CMSs, databases, REST APIs, and GraphQL.

In summary, Gatsby wins because of:

  • Better performance than Next JS
  • Shorter development time with a wide range of Gatsby plugins, starters, themes and integrations with headless CMSes

Digital Ocean

an image of main page of Digital Ocean gatsby website

AutoloadIT

an image of main page of Autoloadit Gatsby website

JIMDO

an image of main page of Jimdo Gatsby website

Public pages for any B2B or SaaS product websites

The main goal of B2B and SaaS websites is to convert visitors into customers.

This is where speed and user experience are both extremely important factors.

When you have calculated the cost of your lead you are now able to estimate and calculate ROI of a faster website (with lower bounce rate and higher organic search traffic).

B2B and SaaS product website requirements:

  • Great User Experience & Performance
  • Full SEO support
  • Integrations with user analytics, and automation marketing tools
  • Integrations with CRM

And once again, the winner here is Gatsby.js, mostly because of:

  • Better performance than Next JS
  • Shorter development time with a wide range of Gatsby plugins, starters, themes and integrations with headless CMSes

SendGrid

an image of main page of SendGrid Gatsby website

HASURA

an image of main page of Hasura Gatsby website

JIMDO

an image of main page of Jimdo Gatsby website

Personal blogs

As an individual you want to have a blog that is:

  • Cheap to host
  • Easy to Edit
  • Advanced in technologies

Any static generated website is cheap to host, as you can host it for free using:

  • GitHub Pages
  • Netlify
  • Vercel

One of the most important things in having a blog is to be extremely SEO efficient, and obviously, it’s great to save cost on hosting, and this is why Gatsby is a winner here.

Kent C. Dodds

an image of main page of Kent Dodds Gatsby website

Most Recommended Books

an image of main page of Most recommended books Gatsby website

Jacob D. Castro

an image of main page of Jacob Castro Gatsby website

Digital Agency Websites

Agency websites need to shine and prove that you (as an agency) put a lot of attention in every project, also internal, like your own company website.

So, most important requirements for a Digital Agency website could be:

  • Advanced technologically
  • Super performant
  • Covering all aspects of Usability, Accessibility and SEO

Thanks to Gatsby, you are able to present your website’s performance, SEO efficiency, as well as a pleasant user experience, and this is why Gatsby is a winner in this case.

Roboto Studio

an image of main page of Roboto Gatsby website

madewithlove

an image of main page of Made with love Gatsby website

Third And Grove

an image of main page of Thirdandlove Gatsby website

Small eCommerce Websites

Gatsby works really well as a tool to build customized and static storefront for headless eCommerce.

It’s often integrated with Shopify, as it doesn’t give too many possibilities for customization.

In this scenario Gatsby is a storefront where visitors can browse the products and add them to the cart in a blink of an eye.

However, the checkout page is served by traditional eCommerce platforms like Shopify, and that makes Gatsby a great partner for Shopify.

Curology

an image of main page of Curology Gatsby website

OTAKUCHAN

an image of main page of Otakuchan Gatsby website

Nike

an image of main page of Nike Gatsby website

Best use cases for Next.js sites

next.js logo

Next.js also has its own showcase, and we highly recommend using it as a source of inspiration.

Generally, NextJS is a better idea to choose when SSR becomes more important than SSG.

This is when:

  • Content is frequently updated or needs to be always up-to-date
  • You have a large, multi-user site like TikTok (real-time publishing)
  • You can’t afford to rebuild the whole website (f.e. big eCommerce), as it would take ages to do it with SSG.

Large multi-user websites

For large multi-user platforms and the amount of data generated by its users in real-time, it’s not a surprise that the crucial and absolutely most important thing is performance.

On top of that, “real-time” means rendering needs to be done constantly, with the newest data available.

This could be quite a challenge for Gatsby. And this is why in case of large multi-user websites, Next.js is the ultimate winner.

TikTok

an image of main page of Tiktok Nextjs website

Hashnode

an image of main page of hashnode Nextjs website

Twitch mobile

an image of main page of twitchmobile Nextjs website

Client-side rendered applications (SPA/MPA)

SPA is a web application or website that interacts with the web browser by dynamically rewriting the current web page with new data from the web server, instead of the default method of the browser loading entire new pages.

SPA is a perfect solution to build an exceptional and rich interaction between the user and your application.

Top Single Page Application requirements should be:

  • Super performant
  • Ability to support feature rich apps
  • Great user experience

The goal is faster transitions that make the website feel more like a native app.

hulu

an image of main page of hulu Nextjs website

Binance

an image of main page of binance Nextjs website

Ticket Master

an image of main page of Ticketmaster Nextjs website

Big eCommerce Websites

Conversion is crucial for eCommerce platforms, as the ultimately successful user path should end up with a sale.

Besides that, if a small change will come, it needs to be visible everywhere, therefore, the production of SSG pages would take ages in that case.

For Big eCommerce, the most important factors are:

  • Speed
  • Custom user experience
  • Ability to make frequent changes
  • Integrations with third-party systems like: PIM, marketing automation, ERP.

Deliveroo

an image of main page of deliveroo Nextjs website

JET

an image of main page of Jet Nextjs website

Ticket Swap

an image of main page of ticketswap Nextjs website

Web portals

The success of a web portal is mostly dependent on his performance, as a huge amount of data is constantly added in real-life time by it’s users (user generated content).

The other important factor for web portals is personalization and security.

Take a medical portal with a fragile health data of thousands of patients. You need to have something extremely safe and in many cases encoded & decoded in real time.

We could say that the most important factors for web portals are:

  • Super performant
  • Secure
  • Able to support custom features
  • Full support for real-time user generated content

And this is why Next.js is the winner in this case, as it would be incredibly hard to interact with users just by using static pages. Of course most of these functionalities you can achieve in Gatsby using third party services, but without them Next is a clear winner.

Ticket Master

an image of main page of ticketmaster Nextjs website

Realtor

an image of main page of realtor Nextjs website

TV Publica

an image of main page of Tiktok Nextjs website

Gatsby vs Next.js – The verdict?

Today it seems like Next.js is winning the battle at pretty much any area.

Obviously, the final verdict between Gatsby vs Next.js is highly dependent on what you are aiming for. If the goal is to have a super fast website that doesn’t need much updates, then Gatsby.js seems to be a good move.

However, if you want to have a super fast and user-friendly page that needs constant updates, you should definitely consider Next.js.

Still not sure which technology will be better?

Read more

React vs Svelte – comparison

Vue vs React – comparison

Guide through Angular and React

18 great examples of Next js websites – article

Pros and cons of Next js

Chris Lojniewski

CEO at Pagepro - React & React Native software house specialising in building tailor-made web applications for clients around the world. Chris is currently spearheading a mission close to his heart: making development frictionless. His philosophy transcends the conventional, recognising that while modern tech, especially React & React Native, is a game-changer, the real revolution lies in combining cutting-edge technology with effective processes, creative exploration, and strategic foresight.

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