Hugo: A Framework for Static Websites

Hugo

Hugo is a tool for creating static websites. How is this different from a dynamic website? you may be wondering. While a static website is delivered to clients in the same way that is stored, dynamic websites build pages using an application server. As a consequence, static and dynamic web pages have contrasting properties:

Criterion Static Dynamic
Loading Times Fast Slow
Required Expertise for Maintenance High Low
Security High Potentially Low
Potential for User Interaction Low High

Let’s take a look at these aspects in more detail.

Loading times

Static websites can typically be loaded much faster. Why? Displaying a static page essentially only requires loading the associated HTML file as well as any additional resources (images etc). For a dynamic site, the same data have to be loaded but the dynamic content has to be loaded additionally. Since this type of content typically requires interacting with a database, it takes some time until the data have been loaded and the final page is ready.

Required expertise

Maintaining a static site is slightly harder than maintaining a dynamic site. This is because dynamic websites are usually based on content management systems (CMSs) such as WordPress. CMSs are very easy to use because content can be created in what-you-see-is-what-you-get editors. For static websites, on the other hand, such editors are not available and it is necessary to work with data in a more raw format such as Markdown, which merely specifies how the content is supposed to look. So, if you are not a person that shies away from some technicalities, static web pages are fine. But if you don’t like the idea of working in some form of code editor, then a static site is not for you.

Security

With regard to security, static sites are definitely the safer alternative. Since dynamic web sites rely on several applications that run in unison (e.g. CMS, database, additional scripts) it is more likely that one of them is vulnerable to attacks. For example, there is a long list of security vulnerabilities for Wordpress, so it is key to continually update the software to stay safe. With static sites, on the other hand, there is no software that is running in the background, so there are no vulnerabilities and it is not necessary to continually update.

Potential for User Interaction

The low potential for user interaction is the biggest downside to static websites. For example, a dynamic website may display the five most popular posts, show a poll where users can participate, or may ask for users to upload their own content. These dynamic elements can hardly be integrated into static websites. For example, for something simple as a commenting systems, many static web sites rely on external services such as Disqus. However, there are also alternatives such as Staticman.

Posts about Hugo

Since this blog has been created with Hugo, the following posts deal with the framework.

Implementing Polls Using Staticman

Implementing Polls Using Staticman

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With Staticman it is possible to integrate user-generated content into static sites. Here, I demonstrate how Staticman can be used to implement polls into websites that are generated with Hugo.

Setting Noindex for Hugo Taxonomy Pages

Setting Noindex for Hugo Taxonomy Pages

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If your site is not structured well, you may have a lot of duplicate content that can result from taxonomies (e.g. tags/category pages). Here, I show how this problem can be solved by setting the noindex meta tag for Hugo taxonomy pages.

5 Steps to Create a Blog with Hugo and R

5 Steps to Create a Blog with Hugo and R

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Do you want to create a blog? It has never been easier than using Hugo, a static website generator. This post explores how it is possible to have a website up and running in only 5 simple steps.