12 Reasons I Made My Website and Blog In Notion

Is Notion a viable platform for a blog or a personal website?

Max Yampolsky
Apr 20 · 12 min read

In early 2021 I started thinking about a personal blog website to grow my digital presence.

Considering all the latest tech industry changes, I was hesitant to immediately stick to conventional options like WordPress and Webflow. Rather, I wanted to make a proper analysis of the currently available platforms on the market and substantiate my choice.

I wanted to make sure the solution not only covers my basic criteria for a website but also is the most technologically advanced.

I researched many viable options on the market, including Webflow, Notion, static site generators (e.g., Hugo, Jekyll), and WordPress.

Ultimately, I ended up choosing Notion based on a variety of factors.

Criteria for a website

Before jumping into analyzing Notion as a website, it’s useful to define what we expect from a website in general.

I outlined the main aspects that were important for me in the future website:

  1. Performance — the website must be fast for desktop and mobile.

Among other aspects, there are price, content formatting capabilities, and visual aesthetics (styling).

Now, using these criteria, we’ll go through the Notion solution and see how it fits together.

Why Notion?

In Notion, each page has its unique URL and can be made public. Hence, you can already make a simple prototype of the website using Notion itself.

However, to make Notion pages available on your custom domain (e.g., www.yourwebsite.com instead of www.notion.so), you need to go through extra steps.

Not speaking of, default performance and SEO compatibility of Notion pages are relatively poor.

Therefore, it is worth mentioning a special tool that made the whole Notion website thing possible.

⚡Superhero of the day — Super.so

I’m using a specific framework for hosting Notion websites called Super — super.so.

Notion by itself is a poor candidate for a standalone website. It is known for its slow loading speed, lagginess, and somewhat unattractive URLs that look like this /c35fadf249794a2d9e6521359b783aef. It also lacks SEO tools which are essential for the type of website we are building.

Note that it’s possible to host Notion pages on your own domain and remove “ugly” URLs using integration such as Fruition, which involves setting up services like Cloudflare. But the process may seem tedious, and the result is far from perfect — website performance and SEO settings are the same as default Notion pages.

Super, in contrast, allows rendering Notion pages as static websites that are both fast and SEO-friendly.

By using the Super Static rendering mechanism, Super acts as a glue between Notion and the browser. On one side is your regular Notion page; on another, a saved static copy of this page which website visitors see.

Screenshot of Super app interface

Super Static is like Notion on steroids.

So, what’s exactly inside this Super box?

1. It’s lightning-fast

When hosted on Super Static, my blog home page scored 99/100 on PageSpeed Insights. In contrast, the default Notion page has a rank of 63/100 (see Appendix 1.)

Desktop score for a blog home page (Super Static) from PageSpeed Insights

The page takes just 1.0s to fully load on a desktop browser compared to 2.7s of a regular Notion page.

Desktop data for a blog home page (Super Static) from PageSpeed Insights

What about the article page?

Blog article page showed whopping 100/100 points on PageSpeed Insights.

Desktop score for an article page (Super Static) from PageSpeed Insights

On a desktop browser, it takes just 0.5s to become fully interactive. It is 960% faster than a regular Notion page (see Appendix 1.)

Desktop data for an article page (Super Static) from PageSpeed Insights

Looks impressive? Well, it doesn’t end here.

What about the mobile?

The mobile version of an article page has a score of 92/100 compared to 21/100 of Notion default.

Mobile score for an article page (Super Static) from PageSpeed Insights
Mobile data for an article page (Super Static)

Although mobile loading speed is not as fascinating as on the desktop browser, it can be improved with minimum effort. For example, if I used proper image compression, I could have saved around 1.05s of loading speed.

Improvement opportunities from PageSpeed Insights

2. It’s SEO-friendly

Super Static’s quick loading speed is crucial for SEO. The faster your website loads, the more preferred it gets by search engines.

There are also other SEO premiums Super Static brings.

URLs

Using Super’s interface, you can customize the URLs of your website pages. Simply copy the original Notion URL and define an alternative “pretty” URL.

And URL like yampolskymax.com/18cccb1661d34f139249c149b0fe1d25 will turn into yampolskymax.com/blog

Screenshot of Super app interface

It has to be done manually, but I wonder if Super can make the process automatic, using a page title or one of the properties, for instance.

Sitemap

When you host the website on Super, it automatically generates a sitemap.xml file for your website. You can then upload it to Google Search Console to speed up the indexing.

Indexing speed & search ranking

I compared the indexing speed and search ranking between two platforms — Notion and Webflow using a sample article. You can see the full experiment here.

TL;DR: Notion > Webflow.

On-page SEO

Notion at its core uses JavaScript and all its pages consist of blocks.

So both for static and regular Notion pages, inspected code looks like this:

Screenshot of the inspected Notion page using Google Chrome developer tools

This tree-view blocky structure made me wonder:

does it make it difficult for search crawlers to scan the page?

It appears that it does not.

All the page contents are easily indexed despite being buried inside blocks, which can be seen if we copy an article snippet into a Google search.

Screenshot of Google Search using article snippet

3. It’s easy to set up

It took me around 15 minutes to set the first Notion page live using Super.

Assuming that you purchased a domain beforehand, there are no other prerequisites.

Super offers a smooth onboarding experience on setting up DNS records tailored for your domain service.

Screenshot of Super app interface
Screenshot of Super app interface

After mapping all the DNS, you may have to wait for 2–12 hours before the website goes live due to delays at some domain providers.

You don’t have to worry about manual deployments, servers, or any other infrastructure. It is taken care of by Notion and Super.

Here is the complete checklist of things needed to host a Notion website on Super:

  • Create a Notion page you want to host

4. It’s customizable

Many think that using Notion as a website will not give them enough flexibility to tailor it to their needs. They are 20% right and 80% wrong.

Notion applies some restrictions on how far you can go with page customization. For example, each page must have a title, a cover image (or empty space) at the top, and navigation in the top left.

Also, the contents of a page are limited to what Notion blocks can offer.

However, we can add to pages pretty much anything using the Embed Notion block.

Signup forms, weather widgets, calendars, maps — any 3rd party content is easily compatible with Notion and is displayed inline with other page contents. See examples below.

Screenshot of embedded widgets from my personal Notion website

You can also inject custom scripts to support pop-ups, ads, checkouts, and other integrations through the Super app.

Screenshot of Super app interface

5. It’s easy to change styling (dynamic CSS)

In Super, you can update the font of the website with one click.

Screenshot of Super app interface

Additionally, you can inject custom JS and CSS code through Super to add the next level of customization to your Notion sites. For example, you can make buttons like this:

Screenshot of custom-CSS buttons from Super guide

If you are not a fan of Notion’s document-type looks, it gives freedom to change it.

Here is another example of a website built on Notion and Super.

6. Great text content formatting

In addition to flexible Embed blocks and adjustable CSS, Notion delivers ultimate content formatting features.

As a writer, I want to have freedom in how I can shape and format article contents.

In Notion, I can do intricate things like:

Screenshot of text formatting from my personal Notion website

These are the features not fully supported by standard content editors like WordPress, Webflow, or Medium.

Apart from formatting, managing content is what really makes Notion cutting edge.

7. Superior CMS capabilities — it’s easy to manage content

Notion uses a relational-based model for structuring the data. So any table you create serves as a CMS.

The beauty of Notion is that you can perform the same operations as with a regular database, such as adding parameters, sorting, filtering, and dynamic views — all with a few mouse clicks.

That gives a major extent of flexibility in how you can organize and manage content in Notion.

  • Want to add a new parameter to your articles like Rating or Last Edited Date? Just press “+” in the corner of a data table.

No coding skills required whatsoever.

Demo of Notion data management capability

What’s incredible is that all changes are applied to your website in real-time.

8. It’s easy to maintain — changes are applied immediately

By taking advantage of inherent Notion superpowers, you can make changes to static websites in seconds.

  • Noticed a typo? — Go to your Notion page, fix it, and it’s live.

It is one of the most significant advantages of the Notion website, especially when I keep my personal notes and drafts in Notion.

9. It fits into your Notion ecosystem

I keep all my personal stuff in Notion.

That’s why having a public website in Notion fits perfectly into the picture.

For example, I have a separate Notion database where I keep all my post drafts and ideas.

When the post is ready to be published, it takes me 10 seconds to set it live. I can just drag it from my Drafts database to the Public Posts database, and it will be updated automatically.

Demo of my content workspace

No extra compatibility formatting required — all the markup is kept as it was in a draft post.

As I am trying to keep up with my Medium blog, it is sometimes a real burden to migrate draft posts from Notion to Medium due to numerous formatting changes I need to apply.

Blog content is not the only example of such private-public synergy of Notion systems. There are examples of other creators distributing their goods, such as online courses and Notion templates, in a similar fashion.

10. Notion is constantly improving

Notion is a product in ongoing development, with updates arriving every month.

There are great features on Notion’s timeline that could further boost performance and user experience. For instance, soon, Notion will be releasing their public API that will allow externally manage data inside Notion pages.

Besides, there is a highly active Notion community of creative and talented individuals. 3rd party Notion products like Super are emerging every day. Who knows, maybe the Notion community will have a greater influence on the product evolution than the Notion team itself.

11. It’s not expensive

Notion by itself is free for individual use.

Hosting a static website on Super costs $12/month.

Webflow CMS website starts at $20/month.

WordPress starts at $11/month.

For both Webflow and WordPress, you have to pay extra for a website theme (template).

Therefore, having Notion website on Super Static costs lower than average on the market.

12. It’s easy to migrate

If something goes wrong, or for some reason, I want to move from the Notion website — it’s pretty easy to do.

You can export the whole website as HTML in a single click, including all subpages.

Screenshot of Notion interface

Cons

There are a few downsides of the Notion-Super setup worth noting.

Some pages can be slow on mobile

Compared to the desktop version, it took a long time to load the blog home page on mobile.

Mobile data for a blog home page (Super Static)
Mobile data for a blog home page (Super Static)

It might be caused by the JS rendering of the Notion database, which is located on the page. It takes 4.0s to load.

Therefore, the performance of complex Notion pages is far from perfect on mobile devices.

Per Page SEO Settings

Currently, the main SEO downside of Super is that you cannot set metadata of individual pages.

You can only apply the global description to all the pages in the sitemap.

Screenshot of Super app interface

In the end, all search results for your domain will have the same description snippet.

Screenshot of Google Search

However, the solution is achievable. Based on Super’s roadmap, per page SEO settings are currently in progress and should be released in the nearest future.

Risk of changes in Notion core

Since Super is a tool built on top of the original Notion, there is always an integration risk.

For example, Notion may decide to refactor their system in a certain way that would make static websites no longer supportive.

This is unlikely to happen now, but all great systems go through the evolution of changes at some point.

Super doesn’t work with siblings pages

Super’s engine has a requirement: your Notion pages must be included as child pages of the main page you made public. Otherwise, they will not be accessible on a static website.

For example, if I have pages A, B, and C, where A — is my main website page, B is a part of A, and C is an independent page, I cannot reference C from B. It will be shown as a broken link.

Screenshot of a broken page (Super)

Sometimes that can be limiting. For instance, when I want to reference content located in my internal databases without moving it to the public website page.

Conclusion

  • Notion is a relatively new platform on the market, and all its potential is not yet fully explored.

Originally published at https://yampolskymax.com on April 24, 2021. See the Appendix with side-by-side Notion vs Notion Static loading speed comparison at the bottom of the original article

Remote CEO

Low-key entrepreneur’s guidebook

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium