Transitioning to Hugo

Goals for a website

The simple answer is I’ve always wanted a website. I grew up during the Yahoo Geocities days, and back then everyone had made their own website. Sure, most of the time they were hideous, brightly colored, horrible animated messes, but they were also unique. They weren’t built using drag and drop utilies, or often times even templates. A websites content was solely determined by it’s creator. Every title, dropdown, and image was part of the vision of some 12 year old.

Nowadays, personal websites are uncommon, and those that do exist usually just hold resumes. The decentralized internet that once held people’s blogs, vacation photos, and even dancing dinasaur gifs has been replaced with corporate services like Facebook and Twitter. While there are advantages to using those services, the downside is a lack of individuality and independance I remember from ‘the internet of old’

Another reason is that I often times get asked a lot of questions about self-hosting, privacy, etc. And while I’m certainly not an expert in any of these topics, I’d like to scream my opinion and experiences into the air. After all, what else is the point of the internet?

Why not use Wordpress?

Every decision is a balancing act between the pro’s and con’s of each available option. For me, the con’s of Wordpress far outweigh the pro’s.

Don’t get me wrong, Wordpress is a fantastic service, and there are a lot of situations where I would recommend using. However, I have no plans to make my site very complex, have interactive content, a storefront, or anything else that Wordpress excells at.

There are a few downsides to using Wordpress on a simple site like mine. The main issue is added complexity. This complexity can make a website difficult to manage for someone who isn’t working on it every day. Complexity can make a website load slower, requiring me to pay for better hosting, or upgrade my self hosted equipment. As it stands, I pay for this website to be hosted but it’s practically free. Complexity can add security vulnerabilies that for many sites are completely unecessary. Most Wordpress vulnerabilities come from plugins and themes, but anytime you’re running a small application in a web browser you’re going to have more vulnerabilites than a simple page displaying formatted text.

To summarize, KISS

What do you do when you don’t want to fully write your own website, don’t want to have massive Javascript applications or Wordpress, but still want it to be easy on the eyes? Queue static site generators!

Experience with Hugo thusfar

So far Hugo has been fantastic. I spent a bit of time on Hugo’s website to find the right theme for me. After that it was just a matter of installing Hugo (which could be done through Ubuntu’s built in repo’s) and adding the theme. Now I have spent the majority of the time doing what I feel is most important: adding content to the site.

Writing this article was a great experience. With the Hugo server running in the background, all I needed to do was hit save in my text editor and my browser automatically updated the newest content.

If you’re thinking about setting up your own website, I highly recommend looking into Hugo and seeing if it will fit your needs, before moving to expensive options.

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2020-03-31 18:00 -0600