blog.willbadart.com

This is the blog of Will Badart.

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Host a Website for Free on GitHub Pages

18 Feb 2019

Those of you who have poked around the footer of this website may know that I host this blog on GitHub Pages. What you may not know is that I do so for free. This post will walk you through the basics of standing up a website using GitHub Pages and how to give it a custom domain name (e.g. blog.willbadart.com).

In the future, I may cover how to use the Jekyll static site generator to easily publish regular posts on your site (like I do here).

Step 1: GitHub Account

The first thing you’re going to need is an account on github.com. If you don’t have one, register now, and if you do, login.

Step 2: Setup Site Repository

Frankly, the instructions on pages.github.com put it more succinctly than I ever could, so I’ll refer you there for the initial setup steps.

Step 3: Adding Content

Welcome back.

To modify and add content to your site, you’ll need a text editor you like. For the uninitiated, MS Word and the other word-processing programs out there add lots of tags and markup for formatting that are hidden from you as a user, while a text editor shows you the exact contents of a file. If you don’t have one you like, Atom is pretty solid, if a little heavy. If you don’t want to install a new program, Mac has TextEdit, and Windows has Notepad.

To add content to the landing page (what people see when they visit your site at the “root,” https://myusername.github.io), modify index.html in your text editor. I won’t teach you HTML in this post, but Code Academy has a fantastic course that gave me my start in web development many years ago.

To add another page (e.g. https://myusername.github.io/about.html), simply create the file within the repo and put whatever you want in it. Try creating a link to it from the index page:

And <a href="/about.html">this</a> is my about page.

For a relatively simple example, checkout the layout of willbadart.com’s index file. You can ignore the bits between the triple-dashes (---) for now.

Step 4: Site Theme

To set your site’s style, login to GitHub and navigate to the repository you created in step 2. Under the Settings tab (https://github.com/myusername/myusername.github.io/settings), you’ll see a section for GitHub Pages configuration with a tool for selecting a theme.

If you don’t like any of these, but still don’t want to create your own, you can use any theme with a GitHub repo, following these instructions. This blog uses a custom theme, which is available here.

Step 5: Domain Name

If you don’t want to use the URL myusername.github.io when you share your site, you have the option to apply your own domain name. You’ll first need to purchase one from a registrar like GoDaddy (I use them, but unfortunately was not paid to include them in this list) or Namecheap.

The steps themselves are straight forward, but will seem complicated on your first pass. As in step 2, GitHub puts it better than I do, so allow me to refer you to their instructions for setting up an apex domain (sub domains won’t be covered in this tutorial, but I can add instructions if there’s demand).

Conclusion

Hopefully this is enough to stand up version 1 of your site. Creating a personal page is a great way to both build brand and learn HTML. Happy hunting!


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