My site is pretty minimalist. It’s just a static site1 - no dynamic content, no tracking, and no client-side JS at all. That being said, I’m not digging around my text editor opening and closing <p> tags by hand. I’ve done that for sites in the past (when I was slightly more of a noob) and it’s a pain. If I find myself needing to copy/paste changes across multiple files - it’s time to rethink my approach. I’ll show you how I make this site and maybe it will work for you.

Static Site Generator

I use a static site generator named Hugo. That’s it. That’s the secret sauce that will get you 90% of the way there.There are a ton of great themes that are free to use and modify. People have made themes for all kinds of focus areas like blogs, photography portfolios, you name it. You can grab one and adapt it to your needs.

Personally, I found a lot of Hugo’s features a little intimidating at first and I wasn’t always able to find what I needed in the docs. The most helpful solution for me was exploring the example project inside of a theme’s repo. Being able to see the different components and how they’re put together made things a lot more clear. You can play with the layout and content using hot reloading (hugo server -D) and see how the changes affect the output.

Initially, I write each blog post, page, etc. in markdown and make sure to finish the content before really focusing on the presentation. The truth about all this is that content is the most important thing. Look at Dan Luu’s site. It’s not winning any design awards - but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the best programming blogs on the entire internet.

Once the content is squared away, I’ll fire up Hugo’s dev server and make sure it looks right. Again, the hot reloading really shines here - any change is reflected immediately. Once a post looks good to me, I commit the repo and push to GitHub.

Hosting

For domains, I use Porkbun and I’ve never had any problems. This is the only money I spend on the site, costing me just $4/year.

I use Netlify for hosting and I would highly recommend it to anyone with this use case. After initially setting up the Hugo build process, I have never had to even think about it again. Whenever I push the repo, Netlify begins the build process and takes it from there. After a build (Netlify will show you the logs in case something goes wrong), the changes are live and served right away.

That’s it! Once you get the process set up, it’s super easy to add content and update the site.


  1. I have changed some things since this post. I’m using a different theme now, and it has some client-side JS. ↩︎