I think it’s fair to think of Netlify as a CDN-backed static file host. But it would also be silly to think that’s all it is. That’s why I think it’s smart for them to have pages like this, comparing Netlify to GitHub Pages. GitHub Pages is a lot closer to only being a static file host. That’s still nice, but Netlify just brings so much more to the table.
Need to add a functional form to the site? Netlify does that.
Need to roll back to a previous version without any git-fu? Netlify does that.
Need to make sure you’re caching assets the best you can and breaking that cache for new versions? Netlify does that.
Need a preview of a pull request before you merge it? Netlify does that.
Need to set up redirects and rewrite rules so that your SPA behaves correctly? Netlify does that.
Need to run some server-side code? Netlify does that.
Need to do some A/B testing? Netlify does that.
That’s not all, just a random spattering of Netlify’s many features that take it to another level of hosting with a developer experience that’s beyond a static file host.
This same kind of thing came up on ShopTalk the other week. Why pick Netlify when you can toss files in a S3 bucket with Cloudfront in front of it? It’s a fair question, as maybe the outcome isn’t that different. But there are 100 other things to think about that, once you do, make Netlify seem like a no-brainer.