Next & Previous

Let’s make websites - Part 2

In Part 1, we used Glitch as an immediate way of making a basic website, and we learned some HTML/CSS.

Today we’re going to use the VS Code text editor and it’s git integration to work on a downloaded template for a portfolio site, then we’re going to host it using GitHub pages.


  1. Download and install VS Code from It’s free, and runs on any platform and OS (pretty much).
  2. Go to and click ‘Download’ in the top right corner.
  3. Set aside a folder on your PC/Mac somwhere where you’re going to work on your web projects.
  4. Extract/Unzip the html5up-paradigm-shift zip into your projects folder and rename it portfolio (Mine is D:\git\portfolio)
    • Inside the portfolio directory you should now see index.html etc.

Btw, HTML5 UP is a great site full of free (with attribution) templates, made by ajlkn. He has since created a service called carrd which is a drag-and-drop website creator. If you give up on learning HTML stuff, you can use that! You just have to pay to attach your own personal domain name.

Open the project in VS Code

You should now get a view that reminds you of Glitch, with files on the left, and an editor. The beauty of VSC is you can have multiple tabs open if you want to.

(Click to see full size images in this post)

Index.html opened in VS Code


In HTML, the following tag is a comment, which doesn’t display anything on the page, it just annotates the HTML source:

<!-- I'm a comment -->

You’ll see that the HTML5 UP source is well commented, to help you work with it.

Also, we now see <section>, <header>, and <main> tags, which are more “semantic” (meaningful) tags which behave just like div blocks. They help to create structure in the document that can be understood by search engines, robots, and tools.

Introducing Git, GitHub and GitHub Pages

Before we go making loads of changes, let’s host this thing for free with GitHub Pages, and learn a little about git.

Git is a version control system. It lets you make milestones (commits) so that you can rewind time when you make a mistake or want to go back to a previous version. You can also create branching variations of your work, and it helps us to work with a team by consolidating changes. But we’re going to focus on the individual commit mechanism. Git adds a repository to your work to track this info.

GitHub is an online service - now owned by Microsoft - which mirrors your git repositories for free. If the repository is a website, you can also switch on GitHub Pages which will host your site at

GitHub new repository button
  1. Go to and log in with the account you made in Part 1
  2. Find the green ‘New’ button or click the Plus in the top bar then ‘New Repository’ (see pic)
  3. Call the repo portfolio
    • Later, its web address will be {username}
  4. You can enter a description. Leave the privacy setting on ‘Public’ and leave alone the controls for adding README and LICENSE, our repo already has those.
  5. When the repo is created, you’ll see a Quick Setup screen. Use the button to copy the ‘HTTP’ address of the repository.

We’ve now created an empty vessel which we can sync with a git repository on your local computer.

Name and settings for new GitHub repository A freshly created repo in GitHub

Set up our local repository and make a commit

Initialize repo in VS Code Stage all changes in VS Code Enter a commit message and click the tick

Sync changes from VS Code up to GitHub

Now we’re going to tell VS Code that we want to associate this local repository with the one we made on GitHub, which is called a ‘remote’.

Git add remote
Sync in VS Code

Did it work?

To check out whether our work synchronised with the online repo, go back to your repo page on GitHub where you saw ‘Quick setup’, and refresh the page. You should see all your files like below:

GitHub repo content

Setup GitHub Pages (in a few clicks)

We’re nearly there.

What we have now is a backup online of not just all your website files, but all your “commits” - your progress milestones.

Now we need to tell GitHub that this is a website they can host for us.

Give it a moment, then go to except with your username at the start. You should see the site template is alive!

GitHub pages for master branch Live site

Going forward

Make and preview changes locally

You can make changes to the website in VS Code on your PC. Just open index.html in a web browser to look at it.

Make commits when you like what you see

When you want to commit changes (make a milestone), open up the SCM menu in VS Code.

Stage all the files you want with the Plus icon on the individual files or on everything. Enter a commit message and click the tick.

Sync to publish your site

To sync to GitHub, go in the SCM bar, click the ellipses, and choose Sync.

You can also do this in the Ctrl+Shift+P command bar by typing ‘Sync’