Turning to blogdown and keeping beautiful-jekyll, then turning to hugo-academic

So. In a relatively short time frame, I went from beautiful-jekyll Github-pages to bookdown-beautiful-jekyll to bookdown-academic-hugo. Here I’ll explain why. This actually is more me testing the blog.

beautiful-jekyll & blogdown.

I love the beautiful-jekyll website made by Dean Attali. However, most of the stuff I want to blog about involves R and visualisations in R, which is more easily done in RMarkdown than in Markdown. With the original jekyll theme and Github pages, transforming from an Rmarkdown to a Markdown file that is styled appropriately according to the beautiful-jekyll theme is a painful process (for me at least!). This is why I have converted to blogdown (you can see my old website here.

Thankfully, somebody already made a beautiful-jekyll Hugo-theme that is handy for blogdown. If you have installed the blogdown package already, you can simply do:

library(blogdown)
blogdown::new_site(theme = "halogenica/beautifulhugo")

I did run into some problems when doing it this way, though, which perhaps mostly relate to my limited experience with Hugo, blogdown, and making websites. How I got this website to work, was by first of all finding Emily Riederer’s website and Github. I copied her files into my blogdown-Rstudio-folder and adapted them. Setting up the netlify account was easy.

beautiful hugo letting me down (or me letting beautiful hugo down)

Immediately I ran into some problems with the beautiful hugo website (this mostly relates to my inexperience with CSS and html-code). For instance, with much effort I was able to include more “academicons” (e.g., google scholar, orchid) to the original beautiful jekyll page, but I was not able to do so in beautiful hugo. After many hours of searching and testing and disappointing myself, I gave up.

Enter hugo-academic

My next strategy was to go for the hugo-academic theme. Although I quite like it, I did prefer beautiful-hugo over hugo-academic. Until I saw Alison Presmanes Hill’s amazing website. I just copied all the contents of the website from her Github-page, and started changing it. I am really chuffed with it. There are still many elements of Alison in this website, that I want to keep so I can learn how to do cool stuff. Over time, this will become less and less.1

Outstanding issues

One drawback of using a massively styled theme, is that it is a bit more difficult to see how everything works. Also, there might be some bits that I would like to change in the future, but then maybe cannot because of the overall theme (“lock-in”). Some current “troubles”:

  • Getting my publication list ready seems a somewhat daunting task due to the way they are displayed on the main page, and due to the fact that each publication needs its own file.

  • Because I wanted more options in the top row, I have made subheadings. The disadvantage is that this menu “gets stuck” in mobile phone use

  • This and this website is useful for academic hugo related stuff.


  1. As if Alison’s wasn’t already the coolest person in the world, she then also published this