Building simple sites: Jekyll to the rescue

Don't be a slave of your tools

Marzee Labs has its strong arm in Drupal development. When we started the talks on setting up our site, we initially started thinking in modules, content types, Views and other Drupal lingo. But we shifted the conversation to another topic: was Drupal the tool we wanted to use? One of the first solutions was that we would build it in plain HTML, but we quickly dropped that idea of replicating the entire page when you really want to focus on a very specific part of it. We thus needed an easy-to-use template system that allowed us to spread out the several components of a page. We met Jekyll.

Our one-pager prototype of the site was in plain HTML based in bootstrap, so we googled around to see what was being made with that. We found Jekyll Bootstrap and adopted it as our boilerplate for the migration. The only thing we had to do was dissecting our static page into smaller HTML pieces, collate them with the Liquid templating system, and voilĂ !

Need structured content? No problem! We used Jekyll's easy-to-use post system to build it, like this blog section. Posts can be in Markdown, Textile or simply HTML. How about views? Jekyll gives us a few tricks to loop through collections, so we can make vanilla lists of pretty much anything: pages, posts, categories and tags.

Still, couldn't we have done it with Drupal? We could, yes. But we'd have to maintain it, which we wanted to avoid. We prefer to focus on our daily work rather than petting our own Drupal installation with everything that comes with it: module updates, server setup, multiple points of failure, performance, etc.

If you are wondering about content editing for non tech people, you're touching the rope bridge. You do need to be familiar with any accepted format by Jekyll, and any type of VCS. But we're grown up tech guys, so we want to control - and do control - the site from A to Z.

In sum, the complexity of what we wanted was too low for us to invest in a Drupal solution. We're now happily (and freely!) hosted with Github Pages, control all our revisions, may it be code or content, and are serving static content as fast as you can see.

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