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Is using Jekyll for your portfolio cheating?

Jekyll is highly regarded amongst the developer community for creating sleeky, minimalist and easy to navigate websites. It's widely used in conjunction with Github pages and most of the basic themes are included as an option when you create a repository.

I've previously set up a minimal portfolio website using Jekyll before. Part of me feels as though the portfolio should show your talents and creating it purely from HTML/CSS or even using a React of Django framework speaks to this more than using Jekyll. In the midst of changing up my portfolio and blog, I would like to ask the question - Is using Jekyll to create your online developer website "cheating" so to speak?
Or is it just as good of a medium for showcasing your skills and projects?

I guess this question also needs to take into question the purpose of the portfolio/blog. For instance, is the same level of development needed for someone showcasing their talents as a DevOps Engineer vs a Frontend or Full stack developer?

Top comments (10)

dz4k profile image
Deniz Akşimşek

"Cheating" is only a thing in school.

People looking at your portfolio won't even know how it's made (unless there's a bug). Even then, I don't imagine employers would like to hire someone more interested in showing off than making a good and maintainable website.

arcadecoder profile image

This is true, I guess it's more tied to a feeling of an imposter than anything. The need to feel authentic in your skills. Maintainable and clean code is really the essence of programming so that makes sense!

michaelcurrin profile image
Michael Currin • Edited

You may be interested in this post I found today which says that if you're going for a design job, then spending time building a portfolio site at all is a poor use of time (it rarely has the wow or quality you want)
Compared with the alternatives suggested like LinkenIn and resume improvements. Or updating your github profile README or polishing your github repo docs. (I actually got my first job as a dev because of the quality of my github repos, despite a lack of any dev positions on my resume).

The author says that if you do build a site, be economical with your time and use a high-level solution over a custom one. When you a no code or ready made theme solution, you have to worry less about managing your content and cross device issues.

Someone responded in the comments saying that their site helps them with work. And the original poster replied with two CSS type bugs he noticed on his phone...

Going back to your original question, the article says the recruiter probably doesn't know and might not even care whether you build the site yourself. Use what makes sense for you to spend the least effort and get the highest quality and use your other projects to show of your web dev skills - in fact a simple one one gallery of screenshots of sites you've built would be more impressive to me than a site that tries to stands out on design alone and lists your personality and skills and history without demonstrating them.

Oh and the author strongly recommends a blog. If I were to hire someone, I would look at their blog on or medium or a custom site and just the quality of the content and their ability to communicate and teach and they demonstrate understand TDD, benefits of code review or pair programming, how to automate a deploy pipeline... I wouldn't hire them because they used fancy animations or styling. Unless maybe they were applying to be UX or UI designer. Based on the article, even a frontend designer should still probably demonstrate more about how to handle API calls and persist data in database, than how good they are at knowing CSS and HTML design skills.

arcadecoder profile image

This article is a great read thanks for posting the link. It does make sense in all honesty. I think now with more people looking to the coding profession and more content emphasising how to make an eye-catching portfolio or referencing amazingly designed websites it seems there can be some misplaced thoughts of needed to be amazing at everything. I started revamping my portfolio website from scratch and whilst the main page didn't take long, the responsiveness, fiddling with CSS and design was arduous. That time could be better spent on actual projects to display within the website.

michaelcurrin profile image
Michael Currin • Edited

Well said. I had the same issues with a Jekyll blog of mine and a Jekyll site built around GH repos. There are bugs I discover on other devices or in certain pages. Plus maintaining packages for them.

What is really low maintenance and looks great is this Jekyll portfolio site I forked (you get one like it in new GitHub account actually now). I customized the dark background and the icons at the bottom but otherwise the site is really great and simple as is. And of course pulls in details specific to my user account.

It doesn't need my attention so it will be better I think than the others in terms of portfolio (it just lacks blog posts though)


This solution might seem lazy...
but it is really efficent and elegant

akdeberg profile image
Anik Khan • Edited

@michaelcurrin Thanks man! Your comment helped me rationalizing my intention to go with template. It always important to focus on what's relevant and what's not.As a JavaScript developer, it would be very arduous for me to build a portfolio from scratch with CSS, SASS. Yet I was tempting to do so bcuz I couldn't justify the use of template. Now it's clear. Thanks big time 🙂

michaelcurrin profile image
Michael Currin

Hey there. Fellow Jekyll site developer here.

I'd argue that if you build a fully custom site without a theme and without a templating engine like Jekyll, you're doing a ton of tedious error-prone repetitive work yourself. Which would worry me about working with that person who doesn't take advantage of code reuse and automation.

Use the tools available to you. If you want to use a theme (whether Jekyll or not), do that.
If it looks too cliche like a well known theme, then tweak the color and fonts

If you want to use a React quickstart project, do that. You don't have to build from scratch and feel guilty.

lionelrowe profile image

100% definitively not cheating. Build your portfolio in whatever way makes sense with the tools at your disposal. Unless you have some super unique and creative idea that you're sure you can execute well, the main focus should be the projects showcased, not the portfolio itself. As long as it looks half decent, you're good to go.

sagarb3 profile image
Sagar Bhattacharya • Edited

Portfolio website should be small , simple and clean just like one pager resume with your skills stated clean and using already available tools is "Not Cheating" instead show how resourceful and efficient you are.
Be a lazy developer. Skills should be shown in interviews , tests and project work. If you want to show your expertise you can try challenges in Codepen and similar platforms but wasting your time in developing your portfolio website using frameworks and tools and taking it as a full time project is bit odd , because you are not really creatively challenging yourself as that could have been done with simpler tools.

pinwheeler profile image
Anthony Dreessen

part of why you're worth the money that you are is because of the good tools that you know and know how to use.

How long, for instance, did it take you to learn that

Jekyll is highly regarded amongst the developer community for creating sleeky, minimalist and easy to navigate websites.

I have been programming professionally for 10 years or so and I've never heard of this. I haven't looked at it, but if I were presented with a beautiful portfolio and told it was EASY I would want that person on my team so they could show me how to do the easy thing.