Is Hugo what I need & suitable for me?

Hey there,

I found out about Hugo last week and since then I have spent some time reading into the matter of static site generators in general, how Hugo works and what I can(not) do with it. However, as I am not very familiar with stuff like that I still cannot decide whether Hugo is right for what I want to do. So I wanted to ask you!

What do I want to do?

Create a website that:

  • is attractive-looking and designed in modern standards (e.g. usage of eye-catching pictures as blog post preview)
  • is easy to use and clear
  • is partly static, partly dynamic
  • is optimized for search engines (SEO)
  • is easy to update (create new posts)

How should the website be structured?

Modern one-page scroller as main page with the following elements:

  • Navigation bar with sub-pages (categories, about, etc.)
  • logo
  • short presentation of my projects (click for more - these information will need to be updated only once in a while)
  • selection of my youtube videos -> i want to be able to choose manually
  • selection of my blog posts -> i want to be able to choose both manually and automatically (e.g. the most popular) -> I want to create content on a regular basis

What features should the website have?

  • support usage of subpages, categories, tags
  • ways to interact (comments, mail support, newsletter signup, maybe live chat)
  • is able to preview and show certain media types, especially pictures, videos and audio files

What are my concerns?

I have read that you are barely limited in possibilities when using static websites nowadays, since you can do (almost) everything with scripts(?). However, I have never done any scripting. In the past, I have only been using wordpress for my websites and thus managed everything via addons (with GUI mostly).
I do have experience with HTML and CSS, however, not with Javascript. I have been a Linux user for about 3 years (Ubuntu -> Mint -> Manjaro based on Arch). I am capable of learning new syntaxes but don’t want to learn an entire programming language in order to run this website which is going to be dependent on donations only.
Also, I don’t want to rely on too many proprietary services (if possible, none). So I am worried about sufficient FOSS alternatives for comment function etc.

I could say: keep using wordpress, then! BUT: I highly appreciate the advantages of static websites, especially in terms of security and speed. And even though I am not an expert on that matter at all, it feels like that is going to be the future of websites - as they are much more suitable for mobile users.

To come to the point: Is Hugo suitable for me?

  • Which of my wishes can be implemented easily with Hugo? Which are harder? Which are impossible (if any)?
  • What should I be aware of afterwards?
  • If Hugo isn’t right for me, what would you suggest instead?

I am very thankful for any help. Thanks in advance, guys!


I host a small non-profit Hugo website in AWS S3 and use AWS Route53 for DNS. The site has a couple contact forms that use AWS Lambda & API Gateway services to email the form contents to the site owner. Costs me $0.54 per month.

I don’t use comments, but Disqus is a free option. Don’t know what you mean by “mail support.” I’ve never looked at live chat solutions.

I don’t like to discourage people from trying Hugo, but if you’re not adventurous, I’d recommend sticking with Wordpress. You’re going to have to get your hands dirty and learn some new skills if you want a static site to do what you’re wanting. I think it’s worth it, but I like learning new things.

I agree with moorereason. If you are unwilling to learn the hugo specific language its better to stick with WP.

I am capable of learning new syntaxes but don’t want to learn an entire programming language in order to run this website which is going to be dependent on donations only.

Working with hugo is fun. The possibilities are nearly endless. But you have to learn and understand. That’s the price you have to pay.

You have to be adventurous - {{ I like that . }} {{ moorereason }}.
My first day with hugo was frustrating. I looked here in the docs, in the forum and other sites until i understood the context.

I am coming from WP where most of the things are easy. Just use a plugin and thats it. But a lot of these plugins are crap in terms of clean programming. I am running a magazine site with a large number of content and different authors. It took us weeks to get things up and running in WP. Cache, SEO, PHP-mess, Plugin-incompatibility etc. Every update makes me crazy and costs me hours of sweat and tears. Simply horrible.

Now I’m doing the first steps with an SSG. And thats why i am here. Maybe in the future we can migrate our magazine to hugo? Who knows. We need things like Search, Browser-Editor, Imagehandling and much more. I like things built-in. I hate plugins.
I tried other SSGs but i think imho hugo is the best choice. Additionally i see a great community willing to help. Which is very important.

Its the beginning of the future with SSG’s. You can run small or medium sites with hugo and without a database. What a huge difference.
But it still needs work.

I had my reasons to change with my other sites. Now I can use any framework big or small like Bootstrap, Foundation, Susy, Skeleton etc. combined with a taskrunner and get a clean website without the well-known “divititis” and the db.

I started with a hugo-testsite. Got support here in the forum. And thats the way with hugo. But without learning - Nothing will happen.

Good luck - Beny

Hey guys,
thank you very much for your helpful and inspiring answers.

As I said, I am indeed willing to learn some new skills, in fact, I’d love to! However, I would like to estimate roughly how much I would have to learn.
So, what do you guys think: Will I have to learn Go (or Java?) completely in order to write my requested features from scratch, or will it be sufficient to understand the basics since there will be ready-made code snippets to use for that?

Even though you seem to be a bit more experienced to me, it bolsters me up to hear that it was just one frustrating day for you! So maybe I will be able to understand the usage of Hugo after just a week or so :slightly_smiling:

Hi sam,
it was at the weekend. I sat there and searched forums, stackoverflows, documentation, different websites and did trial and error.
I have my own workflow:
I collect all Informations and snippets in one document. Now i have a good overview and its easier to understand.

In the beginning i did not understand to work with layouts and the frontmatter variables. So i struggled displaying my data.
With the help of this board i found the solutions.
Now i can display my variables in the way i like.
Together with shortcodes, Site-Data and other features the possibilities are now nearly endless.

But if you are a newbie you have to fight with the documentation and search everything together.
If you are willing to do this - you will get an awesome system. Imho nothing compares with hugo.

You should start with a small testsite. The themes directory has lots of goodies. And you can ask your questions here.
To start and get good results there is no need for me to learn Go.
Hugo has everything i need.

Back to your list:
Mailsupport, Newsletter, live chat is possible maybe with php. Its not hugo.
What do you mean with previewing videos?
To implement youtube & Co the look comes from the framework. Maybe Bootstrap, foundation etc. They have components for that.

Lots of other things are made with JS. You can use every script you like. With a taskrunner like gulp you can work with Coffeescript, JS whatever fit your needs.