Image credit: Hugo

Site Relaunch

I finally ditched WordPress

Image credit: Hugo

Site Relaunch

I finally ditched WordPress

It’s been over 5 years since I’ve worked on my site, so it was time for reload. The last iteration of the site was built on WordPress, including a theme I built from scratch (you’ll find a theme here.) It was a lot of work to build the theme, but WP is pretty simple to author content in. I just didn’t have a lot to say.

I chose Hugo as my new platform. It was a rather hasty decision. I had never heard of Hugo until a couple weeks ago when I saw an article come through R-bloggers about rOpenSci using Hugo. I’ve really gotten into data science over the past 12 months and the R-bloggers daily newsletter has made me want to start writing again. I was looking for a lightning fast, easy-to-build and maintain platform that also made authoring as fast as possible. Here are some reason’s Hugo immediately resonated with me:

  • The content is static and served as HTML immediately at request. WordPress is powered by PHP and MySQL, and has to do a bunch of server-side processing and fetching from databases for every page load. While there are plugins for caching and speed for WP, lightning fast speed is the core feature of static site generators (SSGs) like Hugo. (More on speed later…)
  • Authoring in Markdown. I’ve used markdown for a few years, and hate WYSIWYG editors, so do most of content authoring in raw HTML. It will take a little time to get used to the formatting for site content instead of marking up things Jupyter Notebooks, Jira tickets or Basecamp posts (though BC dropped MD support some time ago).

I’m already seeing the benefits:

  1. I’ve written something for the first time in 5 years
  2. The new site is drastically faster than the old.

Here’s a before and after stack breakdown:

Component Old Site New Site
Platform Self-hosted WordPress Hugo
Hosting Dreamhost Shared Hosting Netlify
Theme Built from scratch inspired by Nathan Barry’s personal site Academic for Hugo by George Cushen
Google Page Speed: Mobile 82 98
Google Page Speed: Desktop 91 100

I’m not in academia, but I liked this theme as an easy way to cover the following needs:

  1. Résumé/CV
  2. Portfolio
  3. Blog

I’ll come back later and write about the work I’ve been doing to making the site even faster than the stock theme + Hugo combo.

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Mitch McLachlan
Director, Consumer Insights and Data Analytics