I’m constantly being asked by friends to help me with their websites, and I’m constantly not at all enthusiastic to do it. I mean, I enjoy helping friends out and creating things, but web development is not at all the “fun part.” It’s a complex field, but more annoyingly, it’s difficult to scaffold a site so that a web-novice can maintain it. So you either have to settle for being the site’s maintenance person in perpetuity, or, not be bothered that your friends will waste countless hours hacking and breaking a brittle, barely visited website.
Github Pages has been a great and convenient way to publish websites. So I’ve been telling my non-dev friends, hey, just create a Github account and publish away! Unfortunately, while there are many great Github and Git resources, all of them presume that you actually want to use the many cool collaborative, developer-focused features of Git/Github. Whereas I want my non-dev friends just to piggyback off of Github to quickly build a website from scratch.
So in the past month, I’ve slowly been putting together a guide that is as basic as possible, even to the point of showing which buttons to click, and explaining how HTML is different than raw text. Check it out here: Build a Web Portfolio from Scratch with Github Pages.
Check out the Reddit discussion here. To my surprise, even aspiring developers have found it useful, even though the guide is aimed at people who do not intend to be web developers.
Creating this guide isn’t an act of altruism for me, though. It’s another way to experiment with online publishing, namely, how to reduce the friction between thinking of things to write about and getting them onto the Web. I stuck to using Jekyll but kind of wish I had gone with using Middleman. In any case, I feel much further along in having a refined CMS-workflow than I did with the Bastards Books and with my Small Data Journalism site, which is also built on Jekyll.