Create a static website with Hugo, GitHub Pages and Actions (in minutes)

In this tutorial, we are going to get a static website up and running with Hugo. We will deploy the site using GitHub Pages and make sure new changes are automatically published using GitHub Actions.

Hugo is a static site generator written in Go that helps you to organize and manage content without the need of server-side rendering, databases, and etc. Hugo is specially interesting if you want to create, maintain and version your content in GitHub using Markdown.

Check out the Hugo website to learn more about what it is and the benefits of using a static site generator.

The Hugo documentation is pretty good and has everything you need to get started and publish your site to different providers. I’ll describe here the steps I followed to put this wesbite together in a few minutes.

Install Hugo

There are different installation methods in the documentation. I prefer a simple download:

# check for the last release
tar -xzvf hugo_"$hugo_version"_macOS-64bit.tar.gz hugo
mv hugo /usr/local/bin
rm hugo_"$hugo_version"_macOS-64bit.tar.gz

Check if everything is ok:

hugo version

Build the website

Create the site:

hugo new site "$site_name"

Choose a theme in the galery of themes and add it to your site:


cd "$site_name"
git init
git submodule add "$theme_git" themes/"$theme_name"

Add the theme to your configuration:

echo theme = \""$theme_name"\" >> config.toml

The config.toml file is where you configure the many Hugo parameters. Check the configuration page for more details and available settings.

Start the local server:

hugo server -D

Hugo will initialize a server and watch for changes. You can keep this session running as you interact with your site in the browser, so open a new session for the next commands. Check the site on the web browser: http://localhost:1313

Add a new post:

hugo new posts/

Edit this file:

# use your preferred editor
vim content/posts/

Add anything you want to this file but make sure you change the draft option in the front matter config to draft: false.

Note that the browser has already been updated with the new content. This hot reload is really useful to make the creation process more interactive and efficient. You can add more content if you want. In the next session, you will publish this site to GitHub Pages.

Publishing to GitHub Pages

I believe GitHub Pages is a feature that doesn’t need introductions. If you want to know more about it, please check

The Hugo documentation should have all you need to know to deploy Hugo to GitHub Pages. Here are the steps I followed.

First, create a repository using your GitHub username: <your-username>

One option is to generate the static content locally with hugo -D and push the content of the public folder to the root of this repository. That would be all you need. But don’t do that, follow the following steps to enable a publishing Git workflow.

Push the existing code to GitHub:

(If you generated the static content make sure you remove the public/ folder proceeding).

git add .
git commit -m "first commit"
git branch -M main
git remote add origin<your-username>/<your-username>
git push -u origin main

Create the GitHub Actions config in the file .github/workflows/gh-pages.yml:

name: github pages
      - main  # Set a branch to deploy
    runs-on: ubuntu-20.04
      - uses: actions/checkout@v2
          submodules: true
          fetch-depth: 0
      - name: Setup Hugo
        uses: peaceiris/actions-hugo@v2
          hugo-version: 'latest'
          # extended: true
      - name: Build
        run: hugo --minify
      - name: Deploy
        uses: peaceiris/actions-gh-pages@v3
        if: github.ref == 'refs/heads/main'
          github_token: ${{ secrets.GITHUB_TOKEN }}
          publish_dir: ./public

This config is using the hugo-setup and github-pages actions. Check the docs for more options and details.

Push this change:

git add .
git commit -m "add workflow for hugo publishing and gh-pages"
git push -u origin main

Go to your Pages configuration (<your-username>/<your-username> and make sure you configure the GitHub Pages to serve content from the gh-pages branch. You should be able to access your website using the URL <your-username>

Now, every time you push a new post or change to the main branch, the GitHub Action will build your website and publish it.

(Optional) Add a custom domain

Create a file in static/CNAME with the name of your domain.

echo -n > static/CNAME

Push this change as well and check the GitHub Pages documentation for more details about how to configure your domain. There are a few options available.

If you are using an apex domain (a root level domain), you can add the following DNS records to your DNS manager:

RecordHost RecordPoints ToTTL
A@ Hours
A@ Hours
A@ Hours
A@ Hours
CNAMEwwwyour-domain.com4 Hours

In addition to hosting your pages, GitHub will also provision a TLS certificate for your domain.