These days it seems like every academic has their own website. I am only in my second year as a PhD student, but our DGS emailed all the students encouraging us to build one. So here goes.

Not having any programming background (besides R), I looked for the easiest option with the least work. I found it (quite be accident) when I stumbled across the book blogdown: Creating Websites with R Markdown. This lays out a relatively easy-to-follow way to create a static website using R Studio. Since I love working with R anyway, this was a good fit.

If you don’t know what a static website is, then welcome–you’re just like I was a few days ago. A static website just means the pages on the site all have fixed content that will be the same for all visitors to the site. It’s basically just a collection of HTML files. And since R Studio has an option to convert Rmarkdown files into HTML files, it means that I can just do all my work in R.

The website itself is built by Hugo. I don’t really know anything about Hugo yet except that it works. In order to customize my site, I’ll have to get more familiar with Hugo.

The domain name and hosting is provided by Netlify. They only charge $15 per year, which seemed reasonable. I went back and forth between .com, .net, and .org, but ultimately chose .org because it seemed the least commercial. It does seem a little weird to regard myself as an organization though. I’ll have to think about it more. Netlify has an option for continuous deployment coming from one’s Github, but I haven’t managed to make it work yet. So right now I am just dragging my public folder onto Netlify each time I want to make any changes to my website. It’s fine, but takes more time than continuous deployment would. That’ll be something to figure out for the future.

Anyway, blogdown is a fairly easy way to create a website, even if you’re new to programming. Right now my website is bare bones, but I’ll post some updates as I figure out ways to embellish it. Next tasks: creating a nice CV with Latex and getting it on the website, setting up Google Analytics, and making it searchable.

Update (7/23/20):

Okay, I created a CV and added it to this website. One thing to note is that Latex files are not recognized by Hugo, it can only do HTML and Markdown files. So I created my CV in markdown (specifically Rmarkdown) instead. It was pretty easy except for the images; they were surprisingly finicky. Not only to position, but also to get Hugo to find in the correct folders.

I also set up Google Analytics. It’s as easy as just inserting the free ID number from Google into the config.toml file that manages the website settings.

Next up, making this site searchable and adding a title.

Update (5/26/22):

Re-reading this post two years later. It’s remarkable how much I still don’t know about building a website in R. I’m still just chugging along though. I’ve changed the theme (now using Even) and am more comfortable messing with style elements like font and colour in CSS, but on the whole, two years has shown less progress than I would have liked.