5 reasons you should use Jekyll

by Sam Bonney

Blog | Jekyll | 5 reasons you should use Jekyll March 04, 2015

I recently reached out to people that I consider to be influencers in the Jekyll static site generator community. These are users passionate enough to contribute code snippets, blog about using Jekyll and open source themes to the community. They aren't core contributing team members, but rather regular users like you and I.

I asked these influencers to share some of their opinions and experiences of Jekyll. I explored what they love, what makes them facepalm, and where they would like to see Jekyll and it's community headed.

The response I had was awesome and I wanted to share my findings so that if you aren't using Jekyll already you might be convinced to give it a try.

To help set the scene, the average length of Jekyll use by respondents was almost 2 and a half years with some relatively new and two almost pushing 5+ years. Jekyll is currently used by half for personal projects only, the other half using it for both personal and professional work.

My first big question was "What do you love about Jekyll?"

The TL;DR:

Top 5 most common reasons to love Jekyll:

  1. Simple to understand how it works
  2. Easier than other CMS
  3. Sites are stable
  4. Sites are fast
  5. Control over the system

If I may generalise even further:

It would seem to me that those 5 most common answers for loving Jekyll are really subsets of two larger comforts for developers:

  1. You understand exactly what's happening: HTML + CSS/SASS + Markdown get fed in and compiled, and those components themselves are easy to manipulate with minimal new learning. That gives you power and confidence.
  2. You love what gets spit out - static site files are extremely easy to handle: their speed, security and stability are all amazing.

Predictability cannot be overvalued for developer peace of mind!

In their own words:

 "What do you love about Jekyll?"

Its hacker-feeling nature. No CMS, no admin UI, no rich-text editor, no databases, etc. It just feels like a truly cheap-and-cheerful (whilst actually being very rich in features) way for a technical person to get a site up and running. It feels a lot ‘closer to home’ by cutting out all the overhead that comes with a more traditional CMS and/or blogging platform. It’s by developers, for developers.

Harry Roberts

Jekyll blog post

I like that it's all static. This frees me up from worrying about making sure I have regular non-corrupt database backups or making sure my CMS was patched of all new security vulnerabilities. Now I just host on Amazon S3 with Cloudfront and have no worries about security or performance.

Paul Stamatiou

WordPress to Jekyll blog post

I mostly like the lack of moving parts on the server side. I've spent an excessive amount of time replicating standard blogging workflows for my Jekyll setup, so in my case it's definitely not about convenience. But my site (http://brettterpstra.com) is fast and holds up well under heavy traffic.

Brett Terpstra

Jekyll CDN blog post

Jekyll is extremely lightweight and customizable. I can use standard HTML/CSS with Jekyll as a page templater, and that's *it*. It doesn't force me to change anything else about my workflow or learn lots and lots of new things/languages. And...I can use it in combination with GitHub Pages to host stuff for free :D

Michelle Hertzfeld

Using Jekyll and GitHub, Tips for Designers

Static site generation exposes the actual lower requirements of some websites: we're so obsessed with new features in websites that we miss the point of simpler use-cases.

Marco Pivetta

Migrating to Jekyll blog post

I like the simplicity - it was my first static site generator so knowing this kind of thing existed was a relief from either classic CMS systems or using PHP includes.

Johan Ronsse

Intro to Jekyll video

Complete control over the content you throw at it. There's no mystery to what's going on and it's easy to understand if you have a basic knowledge of how web pages are built.

Michael Rose

Jekyll themes

The simplicity and ability to quickly generate static sites. I greatly enjoy the ability to use includes in order to share common components like navigation, footers, etc. Same goes for multiple layout support. CLI support is also key.

John Otander

Jekyll Pixyll theme

It makes sense, and I feel that I have more control than with any other CMS I've used.

Travis Neilson

DevTips "Jon doesn't like Jekyll" video

I know exactly how it works; it's simple and behaves how I expect. Being able to write in Markdown is part of this, I have found WYSIWYG editors often produce ugly and sometimes wrong HTML, whereas the Markdown to HTML conversion is very deterministic.

Alex Pearce

Search in Jekyll tutorial

It's remarkably flexible, I've been surprised with how easily it has been to make it do something that isn't technically blogging; photo galleries, podcasting, that sort of thing.

Adam Wilcox

Podcasting with Jekyll tutorial

Easy to use static site generator. Ruby gem. Uses markdown.

Richard Bray

Muffin Jekyll theme

Writing in Markdown, having the whole blog on my computer easily, lack of a database, deploying with rsync and (last but not least) the speed for users.

Scott Patten

Speeding up Jekyll generation

My two favorite things about Jekyll are: 1. The ability to write posts in Markdown and in my text editor of choice. When I used to use WordPress, I'd always write offline and then copy and paste into the editor. Removing the extra step encourages me to write more.  2. The ease of hosting a static site and the reduction of security vulnerabilities eliminating dynamic process and frameworks provides. I understand WordPress has made improvements in the way security patches are distributed but I really like not having to worry about keeping even more software up to date. The machine I run my sites on automatically updates server patches. That equates to much less time maintaining the server.

Alan W. Smith

Date formatting in Jekyll

The fact that it's a simple, but complete, system. GitHub Pages support is also huge.

David Zvenyach

Jekyll data_source tutorial

Jekyll is extremely simple and easy to use.

Matthew Kosloski

Blogging with Jekyll

Jekyll is a very simple, straight-forward tool.  It gives me just what I need to put together a blog or a static website without all of the extra junk. Tom Preston-Werner called it "blogging for hackers", and I found that to be an appropriate description.  Speaking as a programmer, I found it very easy to dive in and learn the basics.  It gives you the freedom and ability to create just about anything you'd need provided you are willing to learn Markdown and a little bit of the Liquid template engine.

Mike Greiling

Jekyll intro tutorial

Join me next week when I'll be sharing some common traps that these Jekyll users have had to overcome.

Keep up to date with CloudCannon articles, tutorials, templates and other Jekyll news