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Convert your plain old HTML site to Hugo

Published: 2019-05-19 | Lastmod: 2019-07-05

Once you have a grasp of HTML and CSS, we all know how easy it is to throw together a simple site: create your homepage, copy that HTML to other pages, then change the content. This process isn’t too bad if your site only has a few pages. But things get out of hand quickly once the number of pages grow.

This is where the static site generator, Hugo, comes in handy. Its templating language keeps things DRY, and its built-in HTTP server allows you to preview local changes instantly.

Original HTML #

As an example, let’s say your original HTML looks like:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <head>
    <meta charset="utf-8">
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=edge">
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="/css/some-style.css">
    <title>
      <!-- some title, which differs per page -->
    </title>
  </head>
  <body>
    <header>
      <!-- some header -->
    </header>
    <main>
      <!-- some content, which differs per page -->
    </main>
    <footer>
      <!-- some footer -->
    </footer>
  </body>
</html>

Create the site skeleton #

First, create the site skeleton by running:

hugo new site <your-site>

Template: baseof #

The baseof template is, well, the “base” template, and we’ll configure the other templates to inherit from it.

Notice the only HTML that differs per page are the <title> and <main> elements.

For the <title> element, we’ll display it as Page Title | Site Title for regular pages, then as Site Title for the homepage.

For the <main> element, we’ll use a block, which means individual pages can define what goes here.

Create file: layouts/_default/baseof.html

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <head>
    <meta charset="utf-8">
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=edge">
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="/css/some-style.css">
    {{ $title := site.Title }}
    {{ if not .IsHome }}
      {{ $title = printf "%s | %s" .Title site.Title }}
    {{ end }}
    <title>
      {{ $title }}
    </title>
  </head>
  <body>
    <header>
      <!-- some header -->
    </header>
    <main>
      {{ block "main" . }}{{ end }}
    </main>
    <footer>
      <!-- some footer -->
    </footer>
  </body>
</html>

Template: single #

The single template is for regular pages, e.g. About, Contact, etc.

Create file: layouts/_default/single.html

{{ define "main" }}

<h1>{{ .Title }}</h1>
{{ .Content }}

{{ end }}

Template: index #

The index template is for your homepage.

Create file: layouts/index.html

{{ define "main" }}

{{ .Content }}

{{ end }}

Migrate CSS #

You’ll notice a static folder in your project. Everything in that folder gets copied as-is to the root of your site once it’s generated. So copy your CSS file to static/css/some-style.css.

Migrate content #

Now that your templates are setup, you’ll need to migrate the <main> element content from each page into a markdown file. Don’t worry, you can write HTML in markdown, so it can be a direct copy-paste. Let’s say your current site has a homepage and a few regular pages. You can generate these markdown files by running:

hugo new _index.md
hugo new page-1.md
hugo new page-2.md
hugo new page-3.md

_index.md is your homepage content. The other pages will be regular page content.

Edit config file #

Open config.toml then edit the baseURL and title variables as desired. Then add this line, which will prevent taxonomy files from being generated:

disableKinds = ["taxonomy", "taxonomyTerm"]

Preview, then generate the site #

Preview your site with hugo server -D. Then once you’re satisfied, generate it with hugo -D. The output files will be under the public folder.

Project structure #

Once you’re finished, your project structure will look like:

.
├── archetypes
│   └── default.md
├── config.toml
├── content
│   ├── _index.md
│   ├── page-1.md
│   ├── page-2.md
│   └── page-3.md
├── data
├── layouts
│   ├── _default
│   │   ├── baseof.html
│   │   └── single.html
│   └── index.html
├── public
│   ├── index.html
│   ├── index.xml
│   ├── page-1
│   │   └── index.html
│   ├── page-2
│   │   └── index.html
│   ├── page-3
│   │   └── index.html
│   └── sitemap.xml
├── resources
│   └── _gen
│       ├── assets
│       └── images
├── static
├── themes

15 directories, 15 files