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Static Site Generators are Stupendous

I love tools and tech that can make one’s life easier. Jekyll is one of these and I’ve been fan-boy for a few years now. Jekyll logo from jekyllrb.com

As Jekyll say, it’s:

“Simple, static, and blog-aware.”

From where I’m sitting it has been a dream tool, for creating an incredibly fast, static website without the clutter. Precisely, the reason I built this site using Jekyll. 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 “play nice” with Jekyll

Here’s a few things to consider before you plough head-first into Jekyll. Not saying there’s anything wrong with doing that…after all, that’s how I got started.

  • Understanding of NPM.
  • Comfortable using a CLI.
  • Knowledge / experience of templating languages (preferably Liquid Templating).
  • Theme customisation.
  • Decent SASS skills so you can customise till your heart’s content.
  • Working knowledge of Github or happy to try.

Why did I switch to Jekyll?

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 it 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.

Is there anything else out there?

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 as it was 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.

Summary

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.