So you want to launch a simple website but don’t want to have to go through the dull process of setting up yet another hosting package. There is an easier solution. If you just want to launch a simple static website you can use GitHub Pages to host your site for free.
Let’s get started.
Note: This post assumes that you have a GitHub account and some basic knowledge of the version control system Git.
Create Your GitHub Repository
The files that make up your website will need to be stored within a GitHub repository. If you’re creating a website to promote one of your existing GitHub projects you can add the website files to a new branch, otherwise you can just setup a new repo for your site.
Note: If you are not adding your website files to an existing repo make sure that you setup a new repo before continuing.
Now open up terminal (command prompt on Windows) and make sure that you have a copy of your GitHub repo on your computer. Once you got your local copy, move into the project folder using the
// Retrieve a copy of your GitHub repo. git clone https://github.com/user/repository.git // Move into that directory. cd repository
Note: Make sure that you change the clone URL to the URL of your GitHub repo. This can be found on the main project page.
Creating an Orphan Branch
Now you need to create a new orphan branch within your repo that will hold all of your website files.
This new branch should be called
git checkout --orphan gh-pages
If you already had files in the master branch of your GitHub repo you now need to delete these from the new
gh-pages branch. To do this you can use the following command:
git rm -rf .
Adding Your Website Files
git commit -a -m "Adding pages"
-a flag is shorthand for
git add .
Pushing Your Changes to GitHub
Okay so you’ve got all your files where they need to be. The only thing left to do now is to push the new
gh-pages branch up to GitHub. You do this using the
git push command.
git push origin gh-pages
That’s it! Your website should now be available at http://username.github.io/repository/.
Using a Custom Domain
The last thing I want to cover in this post is how you can use your own domain name with your new GitHub-hosted website.
First you will need to create a new file in your GitHub repo called
CNAME that contains the domain name (or subdomain) that you wish to use. This file should be placed in the
gh-pages branch if you are using project-pages (as we have been in this post). If you are using user-pages the file should be placed in the
CNAME file might look like the following:
Next you will need to update the DNS records for your domain name. This is usually done through a control panel provided by your domain registrar.
If you want to use a root domain (such as
teamtreehouse.com) for your website you will need to setup a new A record that points to the IP address:
220.127.116.11 or 18.104.22.168
If you are using a subdomain (such as
blog.teamtreehouse.com) it’s best to create a new CNAME record that points to your GitHub user subdomain (
**username**.github.io). This is so that the DNS will be automatically adjusted if the servers IP address changes on GitHub.
Note: For information about the difference between CNAME and A records check out this video.
It may take a little while for your DNS changes to take effect. This is usually no more than a few hours. Once the changes have gone through, you should be able to access your new website from your custom domain name.
In this post I’ve showed you how to host pages that you’ve created yourself but it’s worth noting that GitHub also has a tool for automatically generating pages for your projects. You can launch this tool from the project settings page.
GitHub pages does limit you to using static assets (HTML, CSS and JS) for your websites, but you could use something like Jekyll to make it easier to generate these files.
It’s not going to meet everyone’s needs but if you just want to launch a simple website, GitHub pages is a quick and easy way to get started.
It’s difficult to find well-informed people about
this topic, however, you sound like you know
what you’re talking about! Thanks
thanks for the nice article. I have my website hosted on github and I use cloudflare for the custom domain DNS. Could you please advise for the best way to get a mail server working?
It’s not my first time to pay a visit this site, i am
browsing this web page dailly and take nice facts from here everyday.
I’m don’t know much of GitHub yet but for what I know, anyone can access and edit the files in a repository, isn’t that right? So doesn’t that mean anyone could edit the pages I publish?
No, everyone can view the files but only if you let them
This really helped me. Thanks a ton.
Hey guys, I know this is an old thread but hopefully someone is still active and may help, may seem like a dumb question but when it comes to adding the files into the gh-pages branch what do i put where it says “adding Pages” ?
For instance say i want to add multiple files in a folder on my desktop what would be required?
Edit – I used Add . to track the files i think then used commit so it worked out!
Nice article. I ausually use Desktp app for Gethub repository. I have published a webpage too. I am a student. And now I have a big challenge…..
How I can edit my existing page design?
how can I add some links to my existing pages?
How I can add new pages?
How I can add any downloadable content on my page?
I previously created a project. Now I want to update the swf, want to add a downloadable pdf, Want few changes in the design also. Even Now we are working on a new project, so the new project page should be published under the mail page.
Pls Pls Pls Help.
Thanks for this info. I did exactly this for my custom domain (pointing to my user page) and it shows an error saying – Domain’s DNS record could not be retrieved. How do I solve this?
Hey, my personal blog is hosted on github. How do I check if anyone is actually visiting my blog?
Use Google Analytics and place the tracking script in the of your site. You’ll be able to monitor referral sources, page views, bounce rate, and so much more! 😀
So make your web presence stand out, no matter what your experience level. This article can concentrate on dedicated servers and to completely perceive what it will and the way it fluctuates from alternative types of hosting, it’s best to investigate the opposite forms that it shares the market with. This is suitable for web owners who are new to online marketing since they will only have to pay for the services they need and they can just upgrade their plans later on if necessary.
Thanks for your article, my question can I use it for a WordPress website or a rails website by uploading the files.
Nice article – btw in “git commit -a” the “a” stands for all, not add. It only commits content that has already been added.
Thanks for pointing that out David. We’ll pass it along to the post author!
Literally shitting myself, that after so much time using GitHub I found out about all this only now.
Thank you so much for this article!!!!
This article has incorrect information concerning configuring the IP address for the A record at your DNS provider.
Two A records should be added, with the following IPs:
See this article:
I HATE YOU LUKE SKYWALKER! I HATE YOU!
Any thoughts on the file size limit you can host for your static website? Thanks 😀
The IP given in this article has been deprecated! See here: https://github.com/blog/1917-github-pages-legacy-ip-deprecation
Well Cool Article . But matt do you know any alternatives to github for hosting projects?
you can check this site for alternative hosting plans. I am liking their service. I have website hosted by them.
You can do the same at http://gitlab.com
Excellent article !
Nice article! But what are the reasons to store gh-pages branch as an orphan?
Storing the pages on an orphan branch means that you can have them in the same repo as your project code.
This is really good blog. Thanks for sharing this information.
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Thanks so much Matt West because this shared.
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Mr. West: You da bomb!
Awesome tip, bud. Just recently created my own site on there. Pretty awesome stuff and Jekyll is cool.
thanks for share this
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Cache headers are set to expire after 10 minutes in GitHub, correct? Can that that be changed?
Not that I’m aware of.
The answer in this StackOverflow post claims that GitHub don’t current support modifying the HTTP headers, but it is on their wishlist.
Thank you for sharing this information. Although I have been using GitHub for a while now, I never thought about using GitHub pages to host a website.
Thanks for the info!
VonVictor V. Rosenchild