Jackson Couse

Made This

Hello Again, World

I bought my first domain name - jacksoncouse.com - on January 5th, 2006. Since then, I’ve been through several site designs and redesigns. I’ve hacked things together as best I could with no formal training (but plenty of spare time) and a lot of learning by failing.

The last version of my site was made with Stacey, a file-based PHP content management system written by Anthony Kolber. It was 2009, and the big open-source CMSs were both kind-of rough and way too complicated at the same time. I really liked the stripped-down logic of a file based website for my showing portfolio. It made sense. It still makes sense!

my old website

Time for a change

A lot has changed in my life since I built the last site, though. I moved to New York, went to school, and then moved back to Ottawa. I stopped doing commercial photography, had my first shows, did some great editorial gigs, worked for Amnesty International, taught some really fun classes, and best of all, worked with a lot of wonderful and interesting people. Then, about six months ago I started running the Photo & Video section at Tuts+, a large educational website. My old site was starting to feel pretty long in the tooth.

So I made a new site:

This site is made with Jekyll. It is hosted on Github, for free. So long PHP! So long server admin!

It isn’t a blog or a portfolio anymore, either. Those things will eventually move onto their own dedicated sites. It’s professional archive rather than a showcase. I like that.

And, though a file-based system sounds cool, without a good file management system it was actually a pain in the ass. This version solves that.


As usual, I was too stubborn or cheap to hire someone to make a site custom for me, and too fussy to buy a template. Plus, I wanted to know how this technology worked. It took a while, but I learned it. In the end, making this site was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I guess I have had a good deal of practice after all.

Jekyll is like a CMS, but instead of running on a server, it runs on your personal computer. Every time you update your website, you output a new finished version. It’s lightweight, easy, and most of all, super fast.

Here’s a lesson from a good Tuts+ course on Jekyll:

Great stuff! Jekyll lets me work in a way that makes sense to me, automates a lot of the work, and lets me track everything I do using version control.

What’s next

The next thing I’ll add is dedicated mini-websites for each of my projects, plus an archive of the old blog. Soon-ish.

Feels good to be back!