Create Simple Static Websites with Jekyll

July 20, 2015 Reading time - 3 minutes

What is Jekyll and Why Should I Care?

Jekyll is a static site generator powered by Ruby. It is commonly used as a blog platform although it is powerful enough to be used to generate small websites. Since it runs a template directory featuring raw text files through a Markdown converter and Liquid template renderer, it makes fast static sites with minimal code.

Using Jekyll has helped me grown comfortable using the command line. Since it is installed via RubyGems, it will give you some hands on with Ruby while learning some command line tricks over time. Also, Jekyll sites can be deployed on GitHub Pages which will require some working knowledge of Git. By using Jekyll, you will learn how Git works by using GitHub Pages to host your site for free. While this all may sound a bit overwhelming, getting started with Jekyll is actually amazingly easy. The rest comes together quickly.

Installing Jekyll

Before getting started with Jekyll, there are a couple system requirements that are needed. Both requirements also have a pretty quick and straight forward installation.

Now that we are all up to date with Ruby and RubyGems, let’s setup Jekyll. Once you have your terminal open, run these 4 commands.

$ gem install jekyll
$ jekyll new myblog
$ cd myblog
$ jekyll serve
  1. Installs Jekyll to your system.
  2. Creates a new directory with the Jekyll core files and default template.
  3. Changes the working directory to the newly created “myblog”.
  4. Starts a local port to serve the Jekyll files on localhost:4000

These steps will get you fully up and running with Jekyll within seconds. You’ll have to use your _config.yml file in your “myblog” directory that was created in order to configure metadata, site title, url, syntax highlighting as well as various includes for your site. For more information on how to get properly configured with Jekyll, check out the docs on the _config.yml file.

Jekyll Resources Provides a variety of Jekyll themes you can fork or download to help launch your site.

tryGit Learn the basics of Git in 15 minutes.

Working with GitHub Pages Will help you get setup hosting your blog through GitHub pages for free.

JekyllBootstrap Generates a Jekyll scaffold and publishes your blog on GitHub Pages quick and easy. Also has a variety of themes to choose from.

Jekyll Resources Links to more great Jekyll resources.


Jekyll is a great blog platform for developers who might want to start a simple static portfolio or personal site without having to worry about complicated designs or hacking Wordpress themes. While I would also suggest getting some hands on with a CMS, Jekyll is a very lightweight and minimal platform that has a much smaller learning curve. Plus, you can even pick up some command line, git and Ruby basics along the way.