Static Websites with Hugo

I created a website back in 2010. It’s a professional website. It has a personal profile, description of the work, location and contact page. None of these change with any regularity. So, I just needed a few static pages.

I wanted to get up something quick. So, I had coded what I needed over a week, wrote all the copy and put the site up. Back then, around a quarter of the population had a smart phone, so it did not seem necessary to worry about mobile access to the site. So, I have a great site that works well for the PC. But, it’s useless on mobile. That’s not going to work in 2019.

But, I’ve been dreading doing the update. I figured it would be an unmitigated pain to code a site that worked across platforms. Being inclined to take the easiest route to solve a problem, I thought I might check to see if there was some free software that would help me make the transition with a minimum of fuss.

Turns out, there’s a lot of open source software to build static websites. Jekyll and Hugo are probably the most popular. But, Wintersmith, Harp, Middleman, and others are all viable options. I ended up using Hugo because of the two top options it didn’t require installation of any additional software on my system.

It ended up taking about two days to port the website content to Hugo. Most of the time was just understanding how Hugo works, such as the need to create directories and then put an index.md in each of them to get the content to link up right from the main page.

In retrospect, there are two main considerations in this process. One, pick a system that will convert your old website for you, if you have a large site. For small static sites like mine, this really isn’t a problem. Two, make sure whatever you use has good theme support and choose a theme that has the built in look and feel you want for your site.

For example, I looked at Nikola first, but its theme support is largely non-existent. It became apparent I’d have better luck choosing the top two options after looking at this one.

Once the choice of system and theme is made, the coding and porting of sites is pretty straight-forward. I did have to noodle around a bit with templates to get the result I wanted, but it wasn’t much different from using HTML, just at one level of abstraction.

If you have the need to put up a small website that works on both PCs and mobile, using a static site generator like Hugo will save you a lot of time and be relatively painless. Recommended.

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