Moving my HOA Website from Godaddy to GitHub

Moving my HOA Website from Godaddy to GitHub

2020, Jun 07    

What and Why

Right now, we were using WordPress. I decided to switch to Jekyll. Not everybody is going to want to figure this out, and I don’t blame you. It’s nice if you have a tech guy on your board, but most do not. However, there were a few main benefits that I was looking for.
When I converted my personal website from WordPress to Jekyll, I learned these quite well.


The benefits are many. Here’s the short list.

  • Github is Cheap - We’re currently hosting with GoDaddy. It’s cheap enough, I’m not going to lie. With SSL (which is required now for browsers like Chrome), you’re paying ~$13/month. But GitHub is cheaper. It’s literally free if you don’t mind sharing the code to your site - which I don’t. I literally just served it up to you anyways. Our site is almost static anyways.
  • WordPress is Confusing - WordPress is great, but it’s confusing to people who don’t know it. There’s a lot of newspaper terminology going on in there, and the themes usually hack the core components so that you don’t know what’s going on anymore.
    For example, you might have a plugin that requires you to make a menu entry or insert some special code somewhere in your articles for it to work. For example, in our site, we had detail tables, but the tables were defined in a different place and you had to add them to an article with something that looked like [fancytable id=5]. The plugin would scan the articles when deploying them. Nobody understands that. It was easier for me to teach people how to put a section at the top of a text file than to use Wordpress.
  • Security Hazard - WordPress is the number one software in the world, and it’s a program that’s running. Even if it’s set to auto-update, it’s still a target for 0-day vulnerabilities. I constantly would get attacked by bots. I turned on some google analytics and I was getting probed constantly for well known WordPress issues. If you are a
  • Databases are a pain - The underpinning of WordPress is a database. By default, CMS engines like Wordpress, Drupal, and Joomla are run off of MySQL. Mainly because MySQL was the first big Open Sourced Database. At this point, PostgreSQL is my goto, but I digress… If you have a database, you need to either have it hosted with auto-scaling, or manage it. Managing it is painful as you can regularly get a DDoS attack from bots to overload the database or get attacked with SQL attacks through plugins. I’d rather reduce the service area and not use one at all.
  • Static Files can be served faster - Jekyll is code to generate static files. Once they are static, your web server


With any change, comes drawbacks.

  • No fancy tools - Without something running all the time, you can’t have something that performs chron jobs (tasks that execute periodically without user interaction). For example we had the WordPress JetPack plugin that would interact with our social media. That’s not going to work anymore. Luckily, there’s a workaround, but it’s not as integrated.
  • Tech input required - You can’t do this without a tech person that understands how websites work. Though, it’s pretty likely your organization didn’t set up your WordPress site without hiring a tech guy. So there’s that.


I’m on a Mac, so installing ruby is easy. I’ll give my instructions here, but for Windows users, use this guide.

  1. Make sure Homebrew is installed.
  2. Install Ruby and Rbenv

     brew install rbenv ruby-build
  3. To make sure rbenv is available to your shell (assuming bash. If you are using zsh, feel free to modify), run the following:
     echo 'eval "$(rbenv init -)"' >> ~/.bash_profile
     source ~/.bash_profile
  4. Install a decently recent version of ruby

     rbenv install 
     rbenv global 2.6.5
  5. Install Bundler. Most projects these days use bundler to manage dependencies and build their project. This is similar to Maven in the Java world, for my Java friends.
    You your dependencies in Gemfile and when you “lock” them, it creates a Gemfile.lock file, which makes sure your dependencies don’t change unless you ask them to.

     gem install bundler
  6. Install Jekyll.

     bundle install jekyll

How I Converted Our Site

  1. First, I backed up out database.
    You don’t want to mess anything up with your tinkering.
  2. Got my ip - Writing this down, because we are going to need this for the next step…
  3. Went into Godaddy’s CPanel and Expose your database. This will basically whitelist your IP address and allow your local computer to connect to the database. By default, for (good) security reasons, this isn’t exposed to the open internet.
  4. In the CPanel, I create a new database user. I could have used the current one, but I had no idea what the permissions were. If you want to do this too, use everything after the database creation from this link.
  5. I created a Github Organization.
    My HOA was called Kendall Square, so created Kendall-Square-VA
  6. Added people into the organization, I added the key HOA members.
  7. Created a new repository called <myorganization>, owned by this organization. In my case, this is If you don’t know how to do this, here’s a lot of instructions on how to administer GitHub. It’s pretty straightforward though. You can likely figure that out with the UI. I’d suggest adding a README file though, so there’s at least one file to clone (it’s just easier - otherwise look up how to merge histories in git).
  8. By default, in an organization, the repositories have “private” permissions. However, I wanted this site to be hosted for free, so I adjust the permissions in the settings tab of the repository to “public”. If not, I would have to pay for GitHub enterprise (though that negates the price benefit).
  9. Clone the new repository and .

    git clone <my-url>

  10. Next, I created a Jekyll site
git clone
jekyll new my-awesome-site
cd jekyll new my-awesome-site
  1. I installed Jekyll Import.

    gem install jekyll-import

  2. Imported our posts from Wordpress.
    ruby -r rubygems -e 'require "jekyll-import";{
          "dbname"         => "dbname",
          "user"           => "myuser",
          "password"       => "password",
          "host"           => "",
          "port"           => "3306",
          "socket"         => "",
          "table_prefix"   => "wp_",
          "site_prefix"    => "",
          "clean_entities" => true,
          "comments"       => false,
          "categories"     => true,
          "tags"           => true,
          "more_excerpt"   => false,
          "more_anchor"    => false,
          "extension"      => "html",
          "status"         => ["publish"]
  3. Cleanup… This took a while and was tedious. This command created a number of files. Not all of them were needed. There were a bunch of posts that I didn’t need or were blank. All pages got placed into their own directory as “index.html” with no formatting. I basically too “contact-us/index.html” and converted it to “contact-us.html” to reduce the number of files. Not necessary, but made it cleaner. I also went through and cleaned up the metadata from the posts. I didn’t need nor want that much metadata. So I removed exposed email addresses and things like that. Only kept it if I wanted it to be in the post.
  4. Downloaded our homepage from and downloaded the html and css. I then started carving out the pieces I cared about.
    • I extracted the reusable components, such as the menu (as menu.html) and the footer (as footer.html), and put them into the _includes directory. These can be used later in the different templates like this.
    • Carved out the bones of the HTML so that it made a decent wrapper, putting the content section in the middle, and the includes where I wanted the content injected. Saved this to an html file in the _layouts directory as default.html.
    • Created some Extensions from default.html, such as post.html and page.html
    • Logged into the WordPress and download all of the media files to /static/img directory.
    • I set the Apex Domain, by removing the current Apex domains
    • Added the Githib Apex domains
    • Voila! I got a working site!

Adding Social Media

One of the things that I really don’t want to do is have to think about publishing to multiple platforms. So I made sure I was included the appropriate headers in my templates so that it looked good on social media and then used IFTTT to post for me