15 votes

How do you power your personal site/blog? What should I use?

I currently have a personal "portfolio" site that I haven't updated in close to a year. I'm planning now on revamping it, and I am using this opportunity to reconsider the static site generator I am using.

I host my site on Github pages, which means that Jekyll was originally very appealing due to its nice integration with Github. However, I have found it difficult to greatly customize the themes I find, and I'm the type of person that likes to get everything "just right". It seems like Hugo might be more extensible in this regard, but I'm not sure if that alone makes it worth the switch from my current setup. Anecdotally, a lot of the blogs I find whose layouts I really like tend to use Hugo.

Pure HTML/CSS is an option but that seems like a big overhead for what I want. I'm no web developer and I don't plan on becoming one.

17 comments

  1. [2]
    Adys
    Link
    Ghost: https://ghost.org It's easy to use, beautiful, open source, markdown-powered, customizable… it's a good Wordpress. If their plans are too expensive, you can self-host it. I do it on AWS...

    Ghost: https://ghost.org

    It's easy to use, beautiful, open source, markdown-powered, customizable… it's a good Wordpress.

    If their plans are too expensive, you can self-host it. I do it on AWS with the Bitnami images, but if you want ease-of-use you can use Digital Ocean's droplets; it's like 3 clicks to set it all up (referral link for free credits: here).

    Example blogs:

    8 votes
    1. ntgg
      Link Parent
      Ghost is very nice, but if you are just doing a simple static webpage you really don't need it. Plus with a static site there are a few options for free hosting with your own domain.

      Ghost is very nice, but if you are just doing a simple static webpage you really don't need it. Plus with a static site there are a few options for free hosting with your own domain.

      8 votes
  2. hungariantoast
    (edited )
    Link
    My personal site is currently just HTML and CSS, because I hardly ever update it or need to utilize it. My "blog" (I've only wrote one post, which I'm super unhappy with, but plan on posting more,...

    My personal site is currently just HTML and CSS, because I hardly ever update it or need to utilize it.

    My "blog" (I've only wrote one post, which I'm super unhappy with, but plan on posting more, soon) is also just HTML and CSS, hosted through GitLab Pages.

    Why just HTML and CSS? I honestly don't mind writing it all myself. All of my blog posts for the foreseeable future are going to use the same or similar styles, so there's not a lot of rewriting to do.

    Having the "home page" of the blog just be an unordered list of each blog post I've published so far, and having each blog post have a "next" and "previous" button on it, really isn't that hard to maintain. I don't feel like I need tags, searching, or anything fancy like that for my blog, so I'm not bothering with those things (yet).

    I also don't plan on contributing to the blog frequently (I planned on doing one post a month. I've totally failed that schedule, but still want to get back on it), so I don't think having to edit some HTML or CSS every couple of weeks is going to be that big of a pain.

    If I were posting to the blog every other week, I would probably take advantage of a static site generator, but (what will hopefully be) a monthly posting schedule just doesn't get in my way enough to warrant spending the time on a static site generator.

    Also, because I'm writing the HTML and CSS myself, want everything to look good, be responsive, and be fast, but also not be too much of a pain in my ass, I'm basically forcing myself to keep everything simple and "minimal".

    Do I recommend using just HTML and CSS for a blog? No, probably not. The learning experience of setting up a static site generator is probably worth the time and effort, but maintaining a blog without one of those is perfectly doable for those dedicated enough.

    In the future though, if I manage to keep this blogging business up (if I manage to ever start at all), then I could see myself moving to a static site generator once the blog contains enough posts to warrant things like searching, tags, etc.

    7 votes
  3. [3]
    NeoTheFox
    Link
    You really don't have to be a web developer to use static sites, I don't really get all these frameworks and such for a personal website. It's a huge security pita and it limits your creativity....

    You really don't have to be a web developer to use static sites, I don't really get all these frameworks and such for a personal website. It's a huge security pita and it limits your creativity. All you really need is 3 HTML files with a bash script, that's it - you get to generate whatever you want. The idea is you get your header.html, then your postname.html and your foter.html. Your script creates a page for each postname by injecting a header and a footer, and then adding a handy menu based on filenames. It's simple, secure, effective and very resource-light. Hell, you can even use a markdown -> html converter for posts if you want.

    5 votes
    1. callmedante
      Link Parent
      Maybe I'm reading your comment incorrectly, but you're literally describing a static site generator like Hugo and Jekyll. It takes predefined layouts (like your header, body, and footer) and...

      Maybe I'm reading your comment incorrectly, but you're literally describing a static site generator like Hugo and Jekyll. It takes predefined layouts (like your header, body, and footer) and injects the content where you tell it to. Hugo can even generate a menu by including something like menu: main in the front matter. The security risk is just as low as a Bash script, since the output is just as static.

      7 votes
    2. DaveJarvis
      Link Parent
      I rolled my own build script (https://dave.autonoma.ca/build) to power my blog (https://dave.autonoma.ca/blog/). The blog is written in Markdown, the script attempts to make every HTML page as...

      I rolled my own build script (https://dave.autonoma.ca/build) to power my blog (https://dave.autonoma.ca/blog/). The blog is written in Markdown, the script attempts to make every HTML page as standalone as possible, to minimize external HTTP requests: minified fonts, CSS, and JavaScript. It also produces an RSS feed.

      Creating minified fonts entails building the final web page in two passes. The second pass determines the complete character set the web page uses then removes all unused glyphs from the font files. There's a map that translates font styles and weights based on filenames into CSS weights and styles.

      5 votes
  4. [3]
    callmedante
    Link
    I use Hugo, and I love it. It's fast, powerful, and since my sites are static, the security risks are much smaller than something like WordPress. That said, it sounds like you don't need a...

    I use Hugo, and I love it. It's fast, powerful, and since my sites are static, the security risks are much smaller than something like WordPress.

    That said, it sounds like you don't need a different generator so much as a different theme. It's been a while since I've used Jekyll, but what is the difficulty in editing the CSS of a theme? If that's where you're comfortable (and not so much the development side), then I'd suggest reading up on how to tweak themes to your liking. Transitioning from Jekyll to Hugo can be a challenge, since they use two entirely different languages (Ruby/Liquid for Jekyll, Go for Hugo). If you're up for the challenge, go for it. I found it very rewarding.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      gpl
      Link Parent
      This seems to be the key question for me here. I know almost 0 CSS or HTML (only experience being themeing a subreddit years ago), so I honestly don't know if it would be more overhead to learn...

      I've used Jekyll, but what is the difficulty in editing the CSS of a theme? If that's where you're comfortable (and not so much the development side), then I'd suggest reading up on how to tweak themes to your liking.

      This seems to be the key question for me here. I know almost 0 CSS or HTML (only experience being themeing a subreddit years ago), so I honestly don't know if it would be more overhead to learn those markup languages or to just get familiar with Go since I program quite a bit anyway. I use Jekyll now but I never tinker "behind the scenes" which is good, because I don't know Ruby! I might try out Hugo and see how I'm liking it.

      1. callmedante
        Link Parent
        When you say you like to get everything "just right", are you referring to the look of the site, the layout of the code, or the structure of the files and directories? That can help advise you on...

        When you say you like to get everything "just right", are you referring to the look of the site, the layout of the code, or the structure of the files and directories? That can help advise you on what next steps you may want to consider.

  5. unknown user
    Link
    Gitlab pages is a better host because its build is based on free CI so you can have your custom build script run on it however you like. I use my own custom ruby SSG on it without any problems,...

    Gitlab pages is a better host because its build is based on free CI so you can have your custom build script run on it however you like. I use my own custom ruby SSG on it without any problems, and yesterday deployed a static site that scrapes announcement from my uni and makes them into RSS feeds.

    My ideal setup would be something like Hakyll but in python or ruby. If you like Haskell tho, it's a nice library. I personally don't like Hugo, it's rather inflexible.

    4 votes
  6. markh
    Link
    If you don’t want to worry about anything, Wordpress honestly isn’t bad. Ghost is good if you want a cohesive system. If you want to get a little frisky, you can try something like Contentful +...

    If you don’t want to worry about anything, Wordpress honestly isn’t bad. Ghost is good if you want a cohesive system. If you want to get a little frisky, you can try something like Contentful + Netlify + Gatsby or Sapper.

    3 votes
  7. ntgg
    Link
    I like Zola (github, website). It is just one binary about 1/2 the size of hugo and very easy to use with a template system that IMO is better than hugo's. The one caveat is that there are not too...

    I like Zola (github, website). It is just one binary about 1/2 the size of hugo and very easy to use with a template system that IMO is better than hugo's. The one caveat is that there are not too many pre-provided themes because it is less popular, so if you don't like the ones they have you will have to make your own, but that isn't that hard.

    3 votes
  8. mrbig
    Link
    I use Wordpress because I’m lazy. To install it I basically clicked a button in Hostgator. Than I bough a 50 USD theme. I’m certain it’s not be best option from a technically POV but it worked for...

    I use Wordpress because I’m lazy. To install it I basically clicked a button in Hostgator. Than I bough a 50 USD theme. I’m certain it’s not be best option from a technically POV but it worked for me. It’s just a blog.

    2 votes
  9. [2]
    skullkid2424
    Link
    Are you writing for yourself or others to read? I like the note-taking, planning, and therapeutic aspect of blogging - and I don't much care if others read it (and often don't want it out there)....

    Are you writing for yourself or others to read? I like the note-taking, planning, and therapeutic aspect of blogging - and I don't much care if others read it (and often don't want it out there). With that in mind rather than a professional looking blog, there are some easy options.

    Writing locally in markdown is easy. Since it sounds like you have some computer science knowledge, a few scripts can turn that into static HTML like other commenters have mentioned. You can throw the resulting HTML into dropbox and set it to public for a 1-2 punch of free cloud storage and free hosting. Or use github/gitlab websites with various CI integrations.

    Alternatively, creating a private subreddit or subreddit only you can post in is a very simple solution. Free "hosting" and free "cloud storage" tied to your account. Would recommend writing the markdown locally or using a web-recovery addon/extension just in case you write a long blog post and your browser crashes.

    1 vote
    1. gpl
      Link Parent
      Mostly for myself, but also a few tutorials and such for others if I get around to it. I do currently use Typora for quick markdown notes, but I like the fact that having an actual public facing...

      Mostly for myself, but also a few tutorials and such for others if I get around to it. I do currently use Typora for quick markdown notes, but I like the fact that having an actual public facing blog motivates me to polish my writing a bit more than I would for personal use.

      A lot of people have been recommending (or suggesting) just writing up my own script to generate HTML pages and honestly I might give that a go. The appeal of things like Jekyll is that I honestly don't know much HTML or CSS so getting nice looking output has been a struggle. With SSGs a lot of that is behind the scenes - the issue of course being that its harder to truly customize and tweak things just right.

  10. krg
    (edited )
    Link
    You might want to try Netlify. I have a couple of domains that I'd like to use as a playground...Otherwise, I don't really feel I have much to share in the way of blogging. Nor do I want to,...

    You might want to try Netlify.

    I have a couple of domains that I'd like to use as a playground...Otherwise, I don't really feel I have much to share in the way of blogging. Nor do I want to, really!

    Also, I'll occasionally host some static HTML (and other files) on Keybase.

    Edit: Oh, also maybe try Forestry. Seems even simpler than some others.

    1 vote
  11. xstresedg
    Link
    Currently just using super basic, pre-2k HTML concepts, hosted on Neocities haha. I don't expect to go too crazy with it, but will likely introduce more concrete CSS eventually. While I'm not a...

    Currently just using super basic, pre-2k HTML concepts, hosted on Neocities haha.

    I don't expect to go too crazy with it, but will likely introduce more concrete CSS eventually. While I'm not a web designer, I used to do a lot of website stuff as a kid, and took some classes in it in tech college as they were a part of my course that I never finished.

    1 vote