Using static website workshops to develop capability and collaboration.

Matt Plummer, Victoria University of Wellington


  • Free, static, git-based websites - maintainable and version-controlled
  • Based on open source Hugo theme (Academic), tailored for researchers
  • Packaged by Wowchemy, deployed by Netlify
  • Markdown-based, supports math equations, code-highlighting and diagrams
  • Also CSS, HTML, Shortcodes, Front Matter, config files (yml, toml)


  • Intrinsic motivation - website design is fun, academic portfolio site useful for research engagement.
  • Low risk, free-to-fail “sandpit”
  • Excellent way to teach version control - benefits and processes
  • Encourages troubleshooting - deploy logs, community fora
  • Entry-level training that creates a platform for collaboration and further capability development
  • Immediacy - live site deployed and first git commit made within minutes


  • Carpentries-inspired methodology - sticky notes + formative feedback
  • Code-along approach, with clear explanations
  • Help - ratio of instructor to attendees, or supplemented with a helper
  • Different levels of skill and experience accommodated
  • Peer support
  • Repetition and modular, scaffolded approach
  • Paper-based handouts of key information (concept map of components, directory structure of site, Markdown cheat sheet)


  • Formalise lesson template, including learning objectives
  • Collaborate with others interested in developing these lessons
  • Foster sustainable, ongoing community of practice
  • Offer follow along sessions:
    • Reverting to previous git commits
    • Collaborating with git
    • Advanced styling with CSS
    • More about Front Matter and Shortcodes
    • Decoupling your site from Netlify and adding custom domain