Creating a Hugo blog from scratch

As you may have seen this blog have been made from scratch, there are some important advantages to do a blog using Hugo from scratch:

  • The blog is super-fast and super-light
  • It's fun
  • It's minimalist
  • You get exactly what you want, nothing more, nothing less

So this is how I done it:

Step 1: Installing Hugo

I am not going to cover all the installation options of Hugo, so just follow the method you want from this page.

Step 2: Creating the theme skeleton

Now we need to create an empty blog with an empty theme:

hugo new site quickstart
cd quickstart/
hugo new theme custom
cd themes/custom/

You are now in the root directory of your theme, which is for now empty, but we're going to fill it soon.

Step 3: Edit the _defaults layouts

That directory (layouts/_defaults) contains the basic layouts (that will contains other layouts inside called "partials"). So let's go into that directory:

cd layouts/_defaults

The baseof.html layout contains the root layout, every pages will depend on that one.

The list.html layout is used for list of posts, for now just add the following content to it: (it's basically just a link to a partial we'll create later)

{{ define "main" }}
{{- partial "posts.html" . -}}
{{ end }}

The single.html layout is used for displaying articles. Same thing as for the precedent, we'll link it to a partial. That all the meaningful files will be in the "partials" directory.

{{ define "main" }}
{{- partial "post.html" . -}}
{{ end }}

If you want you can now create a nice error message for the 404.html file.

Step 4: Edit the partials

The partials are small snippets of code that are integrated in _default layouts. Let's get into that dir:

cd ../partials

Note: All the partials with the exception of post.html, posts.html. Doesn't actually require templating...

Let's treat it file by file:

The footer.html file contains the following:

<footer id="footer">
    {{ .Site.Params.copyright }}

The header.html file contains the code that will be displayed on the top of the website, you can create a menu there if you want, I personally just done this:

<header id="banner">
    <h2><a href="{{ .Site.BaseURL }}">{{ .Site.Title }}</a></h2>

The head.html file contains the meta-data of the website. I personally just have the following:

    <link rel="stylesheet" href="/css/style.css">

Step 5: New partials

Now we'll create 2 new partials, post.html and posts.html.

Let's start with the content of post.html. This is mine:

    <header id="post-header">
        <h1>{{ .Title }}</h1>
            {{- if isset .Params "date" -}}
                {{ if eq .Lastmod .Date }}
                <time>{{ .Date.Format "January 2, 2006" }}</time>
                {{ else }}
                Updated <time>{{ .Lastmod.Format "January 2, 2006" }}</time>
                {{ end }}
            {{- end -}}
    {{- .Content -}}

If you need more metadata, you can simply check out other's themes or visit the documentation.

Then this is my posts.html theme:

<ul id="posts">
{{- range where site.RegularPages "Type" "in" site.Params.mainSections }}
      <span class="date">{{ .Date.Format "Jan 2, 2006" }}</span>
      <a class="title" href="{{ .Permalink }}">{{ .Title }}</a>
{{- end }}

We now have an operational basic template, we can now attack the styling...

Step 7: Set your index page

Now you have the set your home page, simply add the following snippet into layouts/index.html

{{ define "main" }}
{{- partial "posts.html" . -}}
{{ end }}

Step 6: Styling

First we'll need to run the instance so let's create a fake post and run it:

cd ../../../../ # Return to the root of your blog
hugo new posts/
echo "Hello World" >> content/posts/

Then we have to set the theme to "custom" in the settings and run the server:

echo theme = '"custom"' >> config.toml
hugo server -D

Now go on the url and open the inspector, and open "Style Editor". You can now modify things on the page without restarting the server.

NEVER RELOAD THE PAGE if you do so, all your changes will be lost!!!

If you're not familiar with css, simply understand the syntax:

body {
  font-family: Karla;

<element> {
  <variable>: <value>;

Then you can simply use the inspector to get CSS code from other websites for instance.

Ideas of variables to change:

  • margin-top, margin-bottom, margin-left and margin-right. Warning, those settings are sure important but they may not fit for all device's sizes.
  • font-family and font-size to get better fonts than the default one.
  • background-color and color to implement dark theme.
  • text-align to center the titles for instance.

Step 7: More styling

Now let's make our styles more versatile for instance, let's make those margins "mobile-friendly". Simply do something along those lines:

body {
  <settings to apply for most devices> 

@media (max-width: 1000px) {
  body {
    <settings to apply for phones>

For all your other needs, simply look on the web how to do it, or copy the code from somebody else.

Once you done all of this, you can copy all the css code into themes/custom/static/css/style.css.

Step 8: Write posts

To write posts, simply run:

hugo new posts/<name in url>.md
nano content/posts/<name in url>.md

Then fill that file with your post, written in markdown.

Step 9: Publish

You can now create a publishing script, so you just have to run it to publish all your posts to your server:

hugo -D
rsync -r public/* <username>@<ip of your server>:<path to your web server directory>


So that's how I created this blog. Note the stylesheet still evolves over time depending on my inspiration :P.