Introduction

WordPress

WordPress is wonderful. It’s free and open-source and it has great community support. It simply does the job. Setting it up is very easy. All you need is to install all prerequisite dependencies on your server, and extract WordPress’s source code and run the installation setup in your browser. Setting it up needs almost zero technical knowledge. There’s nothing to code from the operator’s perspective.

But WordPress is expensive if you have a large number of concurrent visitors per second. In my experience, apache web servers can only accomodate a few numbers of concurrent visitors, and RAM usage rises dramatically as users grow. I am not very sure if Nginx + PHP-fpm solves these issues.

Going back to the stone age

In the beginning, webmasters use plain HTML to publish their written works online. Scaling things up, this is seriously tedious to work on and the use of platforms such as WordPress saves everyone some time of thinking about the technical side.

The cost grows as visitors grow.

There are two ways of scaling things up: Vertical and Horizontal. Vertical scale-up is adding more resources to the machine. This is the first recommended scale up for WordPress. You add more RAM to the machine to accommodate more visitors. Now eventually, you’ll add a load balancer to your setup and scale things horizontally. Horizontal scale up means adding a duplicate setup that points to the same database behind a load balancer and thus, traffic is divided among instances. This is expensive and there are ways to optimize things while keeping the same specs.

Going back to the stone age: The era of Static Page Hosting.

People have learned from the past. No one renders dynamic pages anymore in the backend. That’s the job for JavaScript. With tools such as Jekyll and GitHub, the cost of starting a blog cuts down to zero.

Jekyll is a static page generator. One can simply write a blog through markdown under _posts folder and push your work to GitHub, and GitHub will do the rest of the initial rendering. GitHub will serve the rendered static pages which eliminates much of the load on their side, so it is guaranteed that it can serve thousands of visitors simultaneously while keeping things cheap.

If you would like to add features such as a comment system, in which an important requirement to any blog for engagement with your readers, you can rely on free embeddable plugins such as Disqus, which is already integrated into minima theme, a default template for Jekyll. But if you and your target visitors are privacy-minded individuals, you may develop your very own comment system and create an embeddable system that you can easily plug into any static pages. Or to save you time, there are open source tools that you can use immediately, or you’d like to modify to fit your privacy needs such as isso

Analytics, advertisements, and more dynamic stuff

I am pretty much sure that there are solutions out there that will allow you to see statistics, or to embed advertisements, or add further dynamic stuff within the blog. If you take some time on reading the Jekyll docs, setting things up is very easy and intuitive.

There’s just no reason to use WordPress at all (in my opinion)

In my opinion, there’s no reason to use WordPress or any other blogging platform at all. And the best thing of all, starting things up is free of charge which saves you some monthly bills on hosting. The only cost that you need is a domain, which is around 7 USD per year, or just settle with *.github.io subdomain if you want to keep things fully free of charge.

Markdown is easy. Designing your page is easy.

Writing a new page is very easy. Markdown is very easy and intuitive to learn. You can just focus on writing as you used to on WordPress and keep yourself productive.

Now, if you invested your time to learn the basic HTML and CSS, you might consider developing your very own template. I was never able to learn to develop on WordPress. For me, there’s just so much information to learn and to me, it’s not worth studying. The pay is very small to my standard so I never try to learn WordPress development.

But on using Jekyll, I’m pretty confident that anytime, I would be able to design my very own template today if I want to. There are only a few things to learn such as the folder structure and its templating mechanism. The design is very simplistic. Simply, it’s just so beautifully designed. Anyone can learn it in a day, given that you have web development experience.

Conclusion

I love GitHub pages and Jekyll. It does the job very well in keeping things very simplistic. My taste of managing things is to manage things through Git. I have tried to build my very own platform of git-ops type of blogging and using Emacs Org (kinda similar to emacs, but Org is for Emacs users like me). I dropped the idea and decided to quickly get started by using Jekyll + GitHub Pages. There’s no regret. Through this setup, I learned a lot. I think I still consider developing my very own platform. Through this setup, I shall use this knowledge to build a more convenient setup, in which I will not disclose for now.

That’s all! Thank you for reading.