The Early Days - WordPress & vBulletin
Like most developers, I once had a WordPress site that I was able to quickly assemble on a shared hosting service. I found a theme that didn’t look half bad, added vBulletin for some forums, put in some content, and voila, easy personal website! (Un)fortunately for me, once StickWars skyrocketed in popularity I was left blindsided when my online presence became significant and I was getting a nonstop flow of incoming traffic. Like so many others, I quickly found that keeping a WordPress & vBulletin against a viral amount of traffic is an uphill battle.
Before I knew it I had thousands of active users on my forums, providing me valuable feedback on bugs and feature requests. I had an active community, engaged moderators, I was even able to recruit hundreds of beta testers who gladly provided extensive feedback directly to me just for the chance to play the latest version of the game a few weeks early. I was very proud of the organic content created at my site, and I was able to draw in more traffic by posting development how-to’s for tricky issues faced while developing early iOS games.
My Breakup with WordPress & vBulletin
After a while, my real life caught up to me and took me off the grid for about a month, and when I returned I was distraught to see what had happened to my site. The CAPTCHA plugin I had been using had been mastered by a spam-bot and my forums were jam packed with smut, which quickly drove away the traffic that had previously visited my site. As traffic had fallen and I was engaged with my day job, I sadly sad goodbye the old website, archived the material and removed it.
Personal Website Options for 2016
Fast forward five years and I’m restarting my development work, reestablishing my online presence that faded away during my time under the ocean. I took a second look at WordPress to restart my website, but while the core is well-maintained and secure, any functionality added by plugins quickly erodes that security away. Additional, WordPress is so heavy for what I wanted, which was mainly static pages with a little bit of dynamic content from posts and comments. I wanted something hands off, that had strong version control, did not need any manual maintenance, but could quickly serve content and was completely customizable.
Blogging Like a Hacker
Enter Jekyll, created by Tom Perston-Werner, founder of GitHub, which fit every metric I could imagine. Inherently secure, version controlled using Git, statically served and extremely customizable. The fact that GitHub Pages provides free hosting directly off the Git repo was just icing on the cake!