I love tools and services that can make my life much simpler. Jekyll is one of these and I’ve been fan boy for a few years now and as newer options emerge on the market, the better they seem to get. At least for me, they do!
As Jekyll say, it’s:
“Simple, static, and blog-aware.”
From where I’m sitting it has a been dream tool, for creating an incredibly fast, static website without the clutter. Precisely, the reason I built my this site using the platform. I’ve been on Jekyll for almost five years now so I wanted to write this short piece to illustrate some of the main benefits I have reaped over the last few years and specifically from a designers point of view.
What do you need to know in order to get on with Jekyll
My main vocation is in Product Design. I’m familiar with front end development but I can safely say it’s definitely not one of my fortes.
Before you continue on to the next part, here’s a few things to consider before you plough head first into Jekyll. Not that there’s anything wrong with doing so. After all, that’s how I got started. But to help you reduce the amount of frustration you might experience I have listed a few pointers below. I like to think I’m a half decent designer so a designer’s main prerogative is to consider the best possible experience…always!!
- Understanding of NPM.
- Comfortable using a CLI.
- Knowledge / experienc of templating languages (preferrably Liquid Templating).
- Theme customisation.
- Decent SASS skills so you can customise till your heart’s content.
- Working knowledge of Github or happy to try.
After many years working with WordPress I was finding it increasingly cumbersome. The experience was some what frustrating, slow and painful to manage. I felt that WordPress and it’s database and plugins was a bit overkill for my needs and I was craving a solution that was simple to maintain, flexible and lightweight.
So, I chose Jekyll
And that’s the reason we’re here talking about Jekyll. Even for me, I discovered it was ridiculously simple. What’s more simplistic than taking plain text files and converting them into static websites. I enjoy a bit of coding from time to time but as a designer my focus is on the design stuff and it was no different building my own website. I wanted a painless, quick solution to get my portfolio up and running.
Before settling on my choice, I reviewed other static site generators such as Gatsby, Hugo and many others but what attracted me to Jekyll was it’s sheer simplicity and it was well maintained and well documented.
The other thing that caught my attention was that, I could have my site up and running in a matter of seconds. The prerequisites are minimal (especially if you own a Mac) and being able to host your website for free on Github Pages was very appealing. There was also an additional bonus of being able to serve it via Cloudflare.
From a design side I was able to theme it with one of many gem based themes thus keeping it minimal with only the features I required. Following on from this I could choose to customise and style to my liking.
Jekyll is a fantastic tool for designers who don’t mind getting their hands a little dirty and are passionate about developing products. For me there’s the right quantity of techy stuff to keep my attention and fulfil any fantasies I might have of becoming a developer but not too much that I run the other direction. You see, for a designer like myself I don’t wish to be spending my precious hours trying to resolve development problems or fixing database related issues. A platform such as Jekyll gives me the tools I need and makes maintaining my website a fun experience.