merimerimeri.com

How I build and host static websites

April 22, 2021 A photo of Stephen Meriwether

Stephen Meriwether

I love building websites! I’m not talking about web apps that are more common on the internet these days, whether they be single-page React apps or server-side rendered Ruby on Rails apps. I’m talking about good, old fashioned websites. Websites that are simple and accessible. Websites that you don’t have to fight with and also have a small footprint. There are lots of approaches to building sites like these, and here’s mine.

Hand-written HTML, TailwindCSS, and DigitalOcean

I write the HTML myself. I tend to avoid platforms like Wordpress or site-generators like Hugo. Those tools serve a purpose, but most of the time they’re unnecessary. My personal website only has a couple of pages. The simple tutoring website I built is the same. Websites don’t need to have hundreds, or even dozens, of pages.

I think TailwindCSS is awesome. Atomic CSS fits neatly with how I like to write CSS. These days, I use it for just about everything. It adds a build step (Tailwind is essentially a CSS generator), but I think it’s a small price to pay.

I use DigitalOcean to host most things. I like their product and I think their pricing is fair. I host about a dozen websites on a single $15/month droplet. I’m sure I’d run into problems if I all of a sudden get millions of page views but that isn’t even the goal. I want a simple, reproducible process, that I enjoy working in. And because they’re simple, static sites they can probably serve more requests than I think.

A list of everything

Websites I’ve built

I’ve open-sourced many of the websites I’ve worked on, you can find them on my Github. Here are links to a few of them (p.s. check the Javascript console on each site to learn more).

Websites don’t need to be big, bloat-y things. Small, simple websites make the web a better place.