Beautiful Jekyll¶ ↑
Copyright 2016 Dean Attali. Licensed under the MIT license.
Beautiful Jekyll is a ready-to-use template to help you create an awesome website quickly. Perfect for personal blogs or simple project websites. Check out a demo of what you'll get after just two minutes. You can also look at my personal website to see it in use, or see examples of websites other people created using thcois theme here.
If you need a bit of help or have comments, feel free to contact me. Even if you don't have anything important to say but found this useful, I'd love to hear about it. Lastly, if you like this theme, please consider supporting me if you want to make me extra happy. :)
This template is built on top of Jekyll and can be used for any GitHub Pages website. (If you don't know what these two things are, that's absolutely fine, you don't need to!)
Table of contents¶ ↑
You need to have a GitHub account. If you don't have one, sign up here - it takes one minute. This is where your website will live - if you sign up with username
johnsmiththen your website will be
It would be helpful to understand what Markdown is and how to write it. Markdown is just a way to take a piece of text and format it to look a little nicer. For example, this whole instruction set that you're reading is written in markdown - it's just text with some words being bold/larger/italicized/etc. I recommend taking 5 minutes to learn markdown with this amazingly easy yet useful tutorial.
Build your website in 3 steps¶ ↑
Getting started is literally as easy as 1-2-3 :smile:
Scroll down to see the steps involved, but here is a 40-second video just as a reference as you work through the steps.
1. Fork this repository¶ ↑
(Assuming you are on this page and logged into GitHub) Fork this repository by clicking the Fork button on the top right corner. Forking means that you now copied this whole project and all the files into your account.
2. Rename the repository to
This will create a GitHub User page ready with the Beautiful Jekyll template that will be available at
http:// within a couple minutes. To do
this, click on Settings at the top (the cog icon) and there
you'll have an option to rename.
3. Customize your website settings¶ ↑
_config.yml file to change all the settings to
reflect your site. To edit the file, click on it and then click on the
pencil icon (watch the video tutorial above if you're confused). The
settings in the file are fairly self-explanatory and I added comments
inside the file to help you further. Any line that begins with a pound sign
#) is a comment, and the rest of the lines are actual
Another way to edit the config file (or any other file) is to use prose.io, which is just a simple interface to allow you to more intuitively edit files or add new files to your project.
After you save your changes to the config file (by clicking on Commit
changes as the video tutorial shows), your website should be ready in
a minute or two at
http://. Every time
you make a change to any file, your website will get rebuilt and should be
updated in about a minute or so.
You can now visit your shiny new website, which will be seeded with several
sample blog posts and a couple other pages. Your website is at
<yourusername> with your user name). Do not add
www to the URL - it will not work!
Note: The video above goes through the setup for a user
daattalitest. I only edited one setting in the
_config.yml file in the video, but you should actually
go through the rest of the settings as well. Don't be lazy, go through
all the settings :)
Add your own content¶ ↑
To add pages to your site, you can either write a markdown file
.md) or you can write an HTML file directly. It is much
easier to write markdown than HTML, so I suggest you do that (use the tutorial I mentioned above if you
need to learn markdown). You can look at some files on this site to get an
idea of how to write markdown. To look at existing files, click on any file
that ends in
.md, for example aboutme.md. On the next page you can see some
nicely formatted text (there is a word in bold, a link, bullet points), and
if you click on the pencil icon to edit the file, you will see the markdown
that generated the pretty text. Very easy!
In contrast, look at index.html. That's how your write HTML - not as pretty. So stick with markdown if you don't know HTML.
Any file that you add inside the _posts directory will be treated as a blog entry. You can look at the existing files there to get an idea of how to write blog posts. After you successfully add your own post, you can delete the existing files inside _posts to remove the sample posts, as those are just demo posts to help you learn.
As mentioned previously, you can use prose.io to add or edit files instead of doing it directly on GitHub, it can be a little easier that way.
Last important thing: YAML front matter (“parameters” for a page)¶ ↑
In order to have your new pages use this template and not just be plain pages, you need to add YAML front matter to the top of each page. This is where you'll give each page some parameters that I made available, such as a title and subtitle. I'll go into more detail about what parameters are available later. If you don't want to use any parameters on your new page (this also means having no title), then use the empty YAML front matter:
If you want to use any parameters, write them between the two lines. For example, you can have this at the top of a page:
--- title: Contact me subtitle: Here you'll find all the ways to get in touch with me ---
You can look at the top of aboutme.md or index.html as more examples.
Important takeaway: ALWAYS add the YAML front matter to EVERY page,
which is two lines with three dashes. If you have any parameters, they go
between the two lines.
If you don't include YAML then your file will not use the template.
Basic Features¶ ↑
Beautiful Jekyll is designed to look great on both large-screen and small-screen (mobile) devices. Load up your site on your phone or your gigantic iMac, and the site will work well on both, though it will look slightly different.
Many personalization settings in
_config.yml, such as setting
your name and site's description, setting your avatar to add a little
image in the navigation bar, customizing the links in the menus,
customizing what social media links to show in the footer, etc.
Allowing users to leave comments¶ ↑
If you want to enable comments on your site, Beautiful Jekyll supports the Disqus comments plugin. To use it, simply
sign up to Disqus and add your Disqus shortname to the
parameter in the
disqus parameter is set in the configuration file, then
all blog posts will have comments turned on by default. To turn off
comments on a particular blog post, add
comments: false to the
YAML front matter. If you want to add comments on the bottom of a non-blog
comments: true to the YAML front matter.
Adding Google Analytics to track page views¶ ↑
Beautiful Jekyll lets you easily add Google
Analytics to all your pages. This will let you track all sorts of
information about visits to your website, such as how many times each page
is viewed and where (geographically) your users come from. To add Google
Analytics, simply sign up to Google Analytics to obtain your
Google Tracking ID, and add this tracking ID to the
google_analytics parameter in
Sharing blog posts on social media¶ ↑
By default, all blog posts will have buttons at the bottom of the post to
allow people to share the current page on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn. You
can choose to enable/disable specific social media websites in the
_config.yml file. You can also turn off the social media
buttons on specific blog posts using
social-share: false in
the YAML front matter.
Page types¶ ↑
post - To write a blog post, add a markdown or HTML file in the
_postsfolder. As long as you give it YAML front matter (the two lines of three dashes), it will automatically be rendered like a blog post. Look at the existing blog post files to see examples of how to use YAML parameters in blog posts.
page - Any page outside the
_postsfolder that uses YAML front matter will have a very similar style to blog posts.
minimal - If you want to create a page with minimal styling (ie. without the bulky navigation bar and footer), assign
layout: minimalto the YAML front matter.
If you want to completely bypass the template engine and just write your own HTML page, simply omit the YAML front matter. Only do this if you know how to write HTML!
YAML front matter parameters¶ ↑
These are the main parameters you can place inside a page's YAML front matter that Beautiful Jekyll supports.
Parameter | Description ———– | ———– title | Page or blog post title
subtitle | Short description of page or blog post that goes under the title
bigimg | Include a large full-width image at the top of the page. You can
either give the path to a single image, or provide a list of images to
cycle through (see my personal website
as an example). comments | If you want do add Disqus comments to a specific
comments: true. Comments are automatically enabled
on blog posts; to turn comments off for a specific post, use
comments: false. Comments only work if you set your Disqus id
_config.yml file. show-avatar | If you have an avatar
configured in the
_config.yml but you want to turn it off on a
specific page, use
show-avatar: false. If you want to turn it
off by default, locate the line
show-avatar: true in the file
_config.yml and change the
false; then you can selectively turn it on in specific pages
show-avatar: true. share-img | If you want to specify an
image to use when sharing the page on Facebook or Twitter, then provide the
image's full URL here. social-share | If you don't want to show
buttons to share a blog post on social media, use
false (this feature is turned on by default). layout | What type of
page this is (default is
blog for blog posts and
page for other pages. You can use
minimal if you
don't want a header and footer)
/js/mypage.js) ext-js | List of
css | List of local CSS files to include in the page ex-css | List of
external CSS files to include in the page googlefonts | List of Google
fonts to include in the page (eg.
RSS feed¶ ↑
Beautiful Jekyll automatically generates a simple
RSS feed of your blog posts, to allow others to subscribe to your posts. If
you want to add a link to your RSS feed in the footer of every page, find
rss: false line in
_config.yml and change it
GitHub Project page vs user page¶ ↑
If you're not sure what the difference is, then ignore this section.
If you want to use this theme for a project page for a specific repository
instead of your main GitHub user page, that's no problem. The demo for
this site (daattali.github.io/beautiful-jekyll)
is actually set up as a project page while my personal site (daattali.github.io) is a regular user
page. The only difference is that in the
baseurl to be
/projectname instead of
To set up a GitHub Project page, simply fork this repository into a branch
gh-pages in your repository. Whatever is under the
gh-pages branch will be served by Jekyll. Your site will be at
Advanced features (including how to use a custom URL address for your site)¶ ↑
I wrote a blog post describing some more advanced features that I used in my website that are applicable to any Jekyll site. It describes how I used a custom URL for my site (deanattali.com instead of daattali.github.io), how to add a Google-powered search into your site, and provides a few more details about having an RSS feed.
Featured users (success stories!)¶ ↑
To my huge surprise, Beautiful Jekyll has been used in over 500 websites in its first 6 months alone! Here is a hand-picked selection of some websites that use Beautiful Jekyll.
Want your website featured here? Contact me to let me know about your website.
Project/company websites¶ ↑
| Website | Description | | :—— |:———– | | teampass.net | Collaborative Passwords Manager | | derekogle.com/fishR | Using R for Fisheries Analyses | | bigdata.juju.solutions | Creating Big Data solutions Juju Solutions | | joecks.github.io/clipboard-actions | Clipboard Actions - an Android app | | embedded.guide | Writing an Embedded OS | | blabel.github.io | Library for canonicalising blank node labels in RDF graphs | | reactionic.github.io | Create iOS and Android apps with React and Ionic | | ja2-stracciatella.github.io | Jagged Alliance 2 Stracciatella | | PatientOutcomeFunding.org | Patient Outcome Funding |
Personal websites¶ ↑
| Website | Who | What | | :—— |:— | :— | | deanattali.com | Dean Attali | Creator of Beautiful Jekyll | | ouzor.github.io | Juuso Parkkinen | Data scientist | | derekogle.com | Derek Ogle | Professor of Mathematical Sciences and Natural Resources | | trappmartin.github.io | Martin Trapp | Machine learning researcher | | melyanna.github.io | Melyanna | Shows off her nice art | | chauff.github.io | Claudia Hauff | Professor at Delft University of Technology | | kootenpv.github.io | Pascal van Kooten | Data analytics | | sjackman.ca | Shaun Jackman | PhD candidate in bioinformatics | | epwalsh.com | Evan Pete Walsh | PhD candidate (Statistics and Mathematics) at Iowa State University | | otomatikmuhendis.com | Olcay Bayram | Software engineer |
Very advanced: Local development¶ ↑
Beautiful Jekyll is meant to be so simple to use that you can do it all within the browser. However, if you'd like to develop locally on your own machine, that's possible too if you're comfortable with command line. Follow these simple steps to do that with Vagrant:
Install VirtualBox and Vagrant
Clone your fork
git clone firstname.lastname@example.org:yourusername/yourusername.github.io.git
Inside your repository folder, run
View your website at
http://0.0.0.0:4000on *nix or
Commit any changes and push everything to the master branch of your GitHub repository. GitHub Pages will then rebuild and serve your website automatically.
Disclaimer: I personally am NOT using local development so I don't know much about running Jekyll locally. If you follow this route, please don't ask me questions because unfortunately I honestly won't be able to help!
Additionally, if you choose to deploy Jekyll
using a local ruby installation, you can tell Jekyll to automatically categorize your blog posts
by tags. You just need to set
link-tags: true in
_config.yml. Jekyll will then
generate a new page for each unique tag which lists all of the posts that
belong to that tag.
This template was not made entirely from scratch. I would like to give special thanks to: - Barry Clark and his project Jekyll Now, from whom I've taken several ideas and code snippets, as well as some documenation tips. - Iron Summit Media and their project Bootstrap Clean Blog, from which I've used some design ideas and some of the templating code for posts and pagination.
I'd also like to thank Dr. Jekyll’s Themes, Jekyll Themes, and another Jekyll Themes for featuring Beautiful Jekyll in their Jekyll theme directories.
If you find anything wrong or would like to contribute in any way, feel free to create a pull request/open an issue/send me a message. Any comments are welcome!
Thank you to all contributors. Special thanks to the following people with non-trivial contributions (in chronological order): @hristoyankov, @jamesonzimmer, @XNerv, @epwalsh, @rtlee9.
If you do fork or clone this project to use as a template for your site, I would appreciate if you keep the link in the footer to this project. I've noticed that several people who forked this repo removed the attribution and I would prefer to get the recognition if you do use this :)
Known limitations¶ ↑
If you have a project page and you want a custom 404 page, you must have a custom domain. See help.github.com/articles/custom-404-pages/. This means that if you have a regular User Page you can use the 404 page from this theme, but if it's a website for a specific repository, the 404 page will not be used.