In the introduction article I explained, why I wanted to start a blog. Now, wanting to write a blog raised the question, how to actually create it.
Do I use an existing platform? Do I use an existing framework? Or maybe code everything from scratch? Well, I defiantly didn’t want to do everything from scratch, if there are good options out there. At the same time, I want customizability. So I started to think more about, what exactly I was looking for and did my research.
Now, from an earlier project, I already had a very barebone portfolio website running. I used GitHub to host the website. I wanted to use this domain and preferably also GitHub for hosting again.
Why did I use GitHub Hosting
- It is free.
- I already know how to set it up.
- It is very convenient and possible to access easily.
- (It is possible to use a Domain from GitHub.)
Now hosting a website on GitHub is only possible and free when the website is static.
What is a Static Website
As the name suggests, a static website1 does not change. Specifically, this means, they only change, when manually changed by the creator and everyone visiting the site sees the same content. The opposite would be a dynamic website, that changes depending on the user, for example, Facebook.
Static Site Generators
Because I can host a static website for free, I looked for a way to create a blog as a static website. And I found Static Site Generators (SSG)2. SSGs generate static sites, by applying templates to content.
This was exactly what I was looking for! You don’t have to create everything from scratch. It is possible to use templates and therefore you do not have to be familiar with programming, HTML and CSS. But if you want to, you have enough freedom to create your own template and customize your site. It was great because I was able to brush up a little on my HTML and CSS skills.
Why I chose Hugo
As with everything, the internet offers a big selection of different SSGs. I looked through a few ’top x lists’ to get an overview. Finally, I chose Hugo.
Here are the reasons, why I chose it:
- open-source (free)
- claims to be the fastest framework
- easy to install
- decent amount of tutorials
- content is written in markdown
Reasons, why not to choose an SSG
Now I decided for me that I wanted to try working with Hugo and a Static Site Generator in general. The biggest reason was, since I decided to create this blog only as a hobby and don’t expect to gain money, that I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. I do believe there are reasons, why using an SSG might not be the best.
Limited to Static Sites
SSGs are limited by what static websites offer. Meaning, building upon the blogs content with other services might be hard, or impossible. For example, integrating comments will often cost money. A section for login or a shop is not possible. Generally, server-side functions won’t be possible or much harder to find a solution for.
Technical Know-How is needed
Even if templates exist, that remove the need for a deep understanding of HTML/CSS/JS, it is still necessary to have a general knowledge. This also includes hosting a website on your own. If you want to customize your site, you do need however need to understand HTML/CSS. Next to needing general knowledge, you need to know how the specific SSG works. You need to learn how to install, setup and use the tool.
If you are looking for a cheap way, to create a simple blog, SSGs are a good option. However, you have to be willing to learn the tool and be aware that it can get technical. If you are just looking for an easy option, without having to put too much afford into learning the tool and technical know-how, you might want to look for something else.