Building personal website with Hugo in one hour

Posted by Katherine's Blog on Monday, April 13, 2020


This is a minimum todo list for one to use a static website generator to build a personal website. The are a number of them such as Jekyll, Hexo, Octopress, World press, Hugo, etc. I have tried all of the above and personally prefer Hugo for speed and flexibility and compatibility with my Emacs. But another reason I recommend Hugo to everyone is that: the Hugo community is really well-developed and supportive. This is very important for non-proficient users to get help and not be baffled by technicalities, so that we can get things done.

If you are interested in building a personal wiki, academic profile, home cooking recipe album, small business official website, building and managing a website by these types of generator facilitates you with most flexibility with the minimum cost.

By most flexibility, I mean you can change the look of your website any time with lots and lots of fantastic designs, and upload articles/photo whenever you want. Check out the hundreds of themes Hugo: Complete List | Hugo Themes

By minimum expenditure, I mean zero cost, unless you want to get a customized website name like or rent some cloud based services to boost visitors experience with your website.

To do: The process can be roughly showed in this pic:

1. Register a GitHub account and install local terminal.

An Intro to Git and GitHub for Beginners (Tutorial)

Normally people use GitHub to share and maintain code repositories with collaboration. But it can also host website repository for other people to visit. Using GitHub to host personal website is free and encouraged.

There are other options, such as purchasing personal server/VPS, using Gitlab or other cloud based service. Each of them has its own advantage, but requires some more work or expenditure.

Installing local terminal to push your local edited website content to remote server. For example, if you are using Windows, install git bash from: Git for Windows

You don’t have to learn all the git command unless you want to contribute to software/theme development. Building website do not refer those information. Only minimum experience with command is sufficient.

2. Download Hugo executable and installment.

Everything you need to know is here, for all types of operating systems: Install Hugo | Hugo

If you are a proficient command line user of Linux/macOS, (homebrew) it!

If you are a windows user and not sure which one to follow, the video in above link should be sufficient. The download link he talks about is in Less-technical Users section. But make sure you update the environment variable. This is where your git bash could find the Hugo binary and access to it. Create and Modify Environment Variables on Windows

3. Download and implement a Hugo theme.

You could take your time browse the Hugo theme shop and choose a theme according to your needs. There are demos, which are real websites that people build with the corresponding theme. Don’t just look the front page, make sure you like the structure, navigation style and everything since there are so many options!

You can change easily later if you want different things every now and then.

Step by Step instructions to download and implement a theme: Installing & Using Themes | Hugo - Static Site Generator | Tutorial 5 - YouTube Notice that he is using a macOS, if you are using Windows, the command line tool he is using, is the Git bash in your environment.

If you are happy with the way domo site looks like, the easiest way is just to copy (content, static, config.toml) from themes/your-theme/(exampleSite) and paste them with replacement to home file. To rewrite the great theme template to your website, all you need to do is modifying the template information in config.toml file.

Example of themes: Casper 用Hugo搭建个人网站 · 李子峰的Github Page


4. Adding articles and local test

By the end of the third step, you should have a nice empty website in your name with your photo. More you can do is adding articles. The article are all saved in post folder, where you could initiate with:

cd myblog
  cd myblog
  hugo new post/

You can always preview it in local host:

hugo server themename
  hugo server themename

Open web browser input (http://localhost:1313) to preview. Input (ctrl-c) in Git bash to cease preview.

5. Pushing work to remote server.

Make sure you generate html files into /public file first:

hugo -t themename
  hugo -t themename

Push everything generate in /public file to ( repository.

git init
  git init
  git add .
  git commit -m "Initial commit."
  git remote add origin
  git push -u origin master

Unless you want to giving version control, not only for your website, but also for the source code. Then you are gonna have to do some work because there are many ways to achieve. I personally use two branches (dev for source code, and master for /public) to manage because I prefer to keep codes intact with non-bloat management.

6. More to do

So far the minimum work that makes a sustainable website is done. Of course there are more work to escalate the efficiency and fun. Such as:

(1). Get a personalized website domain (address) for people to remember. This is one of the places where could use some money. GitHub has specific requirement for using ( as name for website, which is hard to remember, so you might want to check for buying a website domain with your own name: Buy domain name - Cheap domain names from $1.37 - Namecheap (There are many domain name sellers, all secondary distributors, so there are slightly price different for a same domain.)

At here you need to link the domain you bought to GitHub, so that when people are visiting (, GitHub will re-direct to ( How do I link my domain to GitHub Pages - Domains -

Chinese instruction: NameCheap域名解析教程 —— BasicDNS - 知乎

(2). Get Google Analytics to get statistics of the visitors of your website. Internal Templates | Hugo The process only needs adding two lines of codes. But this is a controversial demand because some people care about privacy or refuse to create by traffic driven.

Chinese instruction: Hugo中使用Google Analytics · 零壹軒·笔记

(3). Adding Disqus for visitor to comments

The website we generate is static website, which means generally the interactive operations like searching/chatting/commenting is not supported. But there are plug-in can help achieve.

(4). Adding site search with Algolia

(5). Auto deployment

There are many automated deployment tools online, I use Werecker and I wrote an article about the details: Hugo Blogging with Wercker Auto Build & Deployment 【用 Wercker 自动部署网站】-Katherine He Blog|何琪的博客

(6). Search Engine Optimization

(7). Redevelopment of website theme

(8). Emacs users with ox-hugo

I have written an article about this in another post: Hugo blogging with Ox-hugo 【用 ox-hugo 在 Emacs 中搭建网站流】-Katherine He Blog|何琪的博客

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