Ruben Suarez Alvarez

Using GitHub to Create and Host a Personal Website

13 Nov 2014

This is an overdue note about why I’m using GitHub and Jekyll for this website.

For a personal website that features just few pages, a CV, and maybe a place to write blog posts and link to your social media accounts and departmental web pages – or just experiment around with the awesomeness of HTML5 and the amazing things you can do with client side scripting, you don’t need much.

Do I really need to make a database call to serve an About page with less than 500 words on it? No. Do I want a bunch of third-party scripts from whatever plugin author(s) just to have social sharing tools? No. Do I want to have to hack PHP in an existing WordPress template to adjust the banner for my logo or to just simplify the user experience? No. I still want to be able to get up and running in less than five minutes, but can’t it be a little lighter?

This could be a wishlist of the things I wanted for a personal website:

  • simplicity
  • good performance and reliability
  • no databases
  • hosting to be free or really cheap
  • a custom domain
  • the ability to work on my site from anywhere if needed
  • to use open source tools supported by an active development community
  • to get up and running quickly
  • to have version control on my website, preferably Git
  • to be able to share my code so others can easily re-use it

There are a lot of lightweight CMS options out there, but I fell for the GitHub + Jekyll toolchain. It’s well known and now pretty established, and the partnership it has developed with Jekyll developers (it’s based in Ruby) and its use of Markdown to separate content from markup just seemed right to me. It may not be for everybody, but after some time playing around with and getting over the learning curve, I think it can be for a lot more than developers.

So here I am, starting with my new personal page.