This is the first post in an irregularly scheduled series of the work I’m doing building out this site. This site is my personal repository of my content on the internet, but it’s also an expression of what I’ve learned using Jekyll to create a website. That includes learning more about GitHub, Markdown, HTML, CSS, and other tech topics.

Here is what I’ve done to bring the site it’s current version.

Choosing a Template

I had an idea of what I wanted based on the layout I personally like when viewing websites. Generally, I like a top navigation scheme with a lightweight design. I did a google search for jekyll themes and found the descriptively named Jekyll Themes site.

I browsed several pages of this site until I settled on two options: Moon by Taylan Tati and Steve’s NGVB (No-Good-Very-Bad) Theme by Steven V. Miller. The Jekyll Themes site lets you look at the source of the templates in GitHub as well as demo a working version. The Moon theme had a very snazzy design, but I liked the straight-forward design of Steven’s theme. Steven’s theme was also structured similarly to the version of my site hosted on Google Sites.


Steven’s theme also had the benefit of being laid out from a directory perspective in a way that I could understand. Unlike a lot of Jekyll based sites hosted on GitHub, I was able to easily understand his folder names and the conventions he used for his Markdown files. I forked Steven’s template into my own GitHub repository.


I then went into “edit mode” and modified the fork to suit my need. I modified the menu.yml file in the _data folder to match my preferred names for the menu items. I then modified the referenced folders and files and began changing the template to represent the pages that I wanted.


I eventually realized that the commits I made on my repository weren’t showing up as GitHub contributions. I looked at how GitHub counts contributions and saw the following conditions must all be true for my commits to count:

  • The email address used for the commits is associated with your GitHub account.
  • The commits were made in a standalone repository, not a fork.
  • The commits were made:
    • In the repository’s default branch (usually master)
    • In the gh-pages branch (for repositories with Project Pages sites)

Since I was making my commits in a forked repository, they weren’t being counted. A quick Google search revealed that I could have the forked repository detached by sending an email to GitHub Support. So, I sent this message to GitHub Support:

Hello, I forked from svmiller/ to use it as a template for my Jekyll powered site in my repository. I have started making changes to this fork to align it with the design and content I want for my site, and I will never push any changes to Please turn my fork into a standalone repository.

Thank you,


Within a matter of hours, I received this response:

Hi Anjuan,

I have taken care of detaching anjuan/ from svmiller/ so that is its own repository.

I hope that this is of help to you. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.



After making a few commits, I confirmed that my contributions to by website’s repository were now being counted!

More Edits

I continued editing the pages to align with my preferred design. I created a few sample posts in the Blog page, and I embedded a Google Form to use for the Contact page. My previous host didn’t make it easy for readers to leave comments so I attached my Disqus profile to the template for blog posts.

I felt very satisfied as I built out my site. I had the same ability to create content as my previous site hosts gave me but with the added capability to use source control and finely tune my site.

Next Steps

I now feel that I’ve made the template my own, and I will continue adding content. Another next step is to link my domain name to GitHub Pages. I didn’t directly mirror every permalink in my old sites so I know that some of the content will break. However, I like my current permalink section a lot better, and I needed an excuse to update my old content.

There’s one next step that really excites me. I’ve been editing my site directly in the GitHub web interface because it’s easy to do. However, I will eventually create a local Jekyll site on my MacBook and push my changes up to GitHub. That will allow me to do proper source control.