Hello Hugo, goodbye WordPress

2021 - August - 1

As it seems, the whole effeniX journey is about becoming more independent, and about losing weight. Well, I’ve taken one more step to reach those goals. I’ve axed WordPress.

From now on, my websites will be static and generated by Hugo.
Welcome to the future.

WordPress

Lots of websites (probably most) are built using WordPress (and similar alternatives). It helps people, especially those without technical knowledge, to create a website, choose a nice layout, and most importantly: add and edit content.

That’s good!
If you’re a writer with a story to tell, or if you have a message to send to the world, WordPress will allow you to do just that. Without requiring an education in computer science, and without the help of a more technical person. Although: knowing such a person will most certainly make life easier for you.

But: there’s a downside!
Your website may very well get cluttered. You may loose track of your content. You may loose lots if time changing your layout.

And: your website may become slow, even with a fast internet connection. Without your knowledge, lots of extra stuff will be sent to your readers, and they may not like that. It gets worse if your site uses lots of plug-ins (and it will).

Dynamic websites

One of the reasons for all that: WordPress creates a dynamic website. All layout information, all content, all comments, and more, will be stored in a database. Which will be consulted to dynamically create the pages people are asking for. Each and every time a user asks for a page of your site, the required files will be generated: HTML for content, CSS for layout.

Advantage: whenever your website changes (because you add content, or because someone adds a comment), your readers will automatically get the latest updated pages.

Disadvantage: your website becomes slower when it grows, and requires lots of computing power and bandwidth.

Static websites

Enter static websites.
No database. Just files, containing both (CSS) layout and (HTML) content.
And they’re static files: they don’t change. Unless you decide to make a change to your website, every now and then. At that time, the files will be re-generated. Once.

That requires some work, but only “every now and then”. After that, no database lookups will slow down your site. No extraneous traffic or computations or undesired Javascript to make your site work.

If you know how to write the static files directly, using HTML and CSS, you’re a real expert.
But you don’t have to: you can write your content in a format called Markdown, and let Hugo generate your static files.

Markdown

Without any knowledge of the (ultimately) required HTML, you can write your content in plain English (or any other natural language). With a few additions for style and layout. I wrote this page in Markdown. With some simple markup (like stars or hashes or brackets, or plain empty lines) you can make your text italic or bold, you can create paragraphs, and introduce headers. Like this:

Yes, it’s very popular! A whole world of content writers is using Markdown to write text to be added to a website.
For more information, go to the source: Daring Fireball.

Hugo

Hugo is a tool that is freely available for Mac, Windows or Linux. It’s not for everyone: it requires some knowledge of the command line.

Using your Markdown files, possibly some image files, and a theme for the layout, Hugo will generate your full website. Themes are available ready-made, or you can write one yourself (as I did for this website).

The bottom paragraph

So: is Hugo for you?

Are you a writer? A Blogger? And just that?
No, Hugo is not for you. Not without some help.
You need someone to install Hugo and to help you get started. And to instruct you how to continue.

Do you have any experience with the command line (either Unix or Windows)?
Do you have some global knowledge of how websites are structured?
Yes, Hugo is definitely for you.
You go for it!

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© 2021, effeniX