GitHub Pages

GitHub Pages are public web pages for users, organizations, and repositories, that are freely hosted on GitHub’s domain or on a custom domain name of your choice. GitHub Pages are powered by Jekyll behind the scenes, so in addition to supporting regular HTML content, they’re also a great way to host your Jekyll-powered website for free.

Deploying Jekyll to GitHub Pages

GitHub Pages work by looking at certain branches of repositories on GitHub. There are two basic types available: user/organization pages and project pages. The way to deploy these two types of sites are nearly identical, except for a few minor details.

Use the github-pages gem

Our friends at GitHub have provided the github-pages gem which is used to manage Jekyll and its dependencies on GitHub Pages. Using it in your projects means that when you deploy your site to GitHub Pages, you will not be caught by unexpected differences between various versions of the gems. To use the currently-deployed version of the gem in your project, add the following to your Gemfile:

source ''

require 'json'
require 'open-uri'
versions = JSON.parse(open('').read)

gem 'github-pages', versions['github-pages']
This will ensure that when you run bundle install, you have the correct version of the github-pages gem. If that fails, simplify it:
source ''

gem 'github-pages'
And be sure to run bundle update often.

User and Organization Pages

User and organization pages live in a special GitHub repository dedicated to only the GitHub Pages files. This repository must be named after the account name. For example, @mojombo’s user page repository has the name

Content from the master branch of your repository will be used to build and publish the GitHub Pages site, so make sure your Jekyll site is stored there.

Custom domains do not affect repository names

GitHub Pages are initially configured to live under the subdomain, which is why repositories must be named this way even if a custom domain is being used.

Project Pages

Unlike user and organization Pages, Project Pages are kept in the same repository as the project they are for, except that the website content is stored in a specially named gh-pages branch. The content of this branch will be rendered using Jekyll, and the output will become available under a subpath of your user pages subdomain, such as (unless a custom domain is specified—see below).

The Jekyll project repository itself is a perfect example of this branch structure—the master branch contains the actual software project for Jekyll, however the Jekyll website (that you’re looking at right now) is contained in the gh-pages branch of the same repository.

Source Files Must be in the Root Directory

Github Pages overrides the “Site Source” configuration value, so if you locate your files anywhere other than the root directory, your site may not build correctly.

Project Page URL Structure

Sometimes it’s nice to preview your Jekyll site before you push your gh-pages branch to GitHub. However, the subdirectory-like URL structure GitHub uses for Project Pages complicates the proper resolution of URLs. Here is an approach to utilizing the GitHub Project Page URL structure ( whilst maintaining the ability to preview your Jekyll site locally.

  1. In _config.yml, set the baseurl option to /project-name – note the leading slash and the absence of a trailing slash.
  2. When referencing JS or CSS files, do it like this: {{ site.baseurl }}/path/to/css.css – note the slash immediately following the variable (just before “path”).
  3. When doing permalinks or internal links, do it like this: {{ site.baseurl }}{{ post.url }} – note that there is no slash between the two variables.
  4. Finally, if you’d like to preview your site before committing/deploying using jekyll serve, be sure to pass an empty string to the --baseurl option, so that you can view everything at localhost:4000 normally (without /project-name at the beginning): jekyll serve --baseurl ''

This way you can preview your site locally from the site root on localhost, but when GitHub generates your pages from the gh-pages branch all the URLs will start with /project-name and resolve properly.

GitHub Pages Documentation, Help, and Support

For more information about what you can do with GitHub Pages, as well as for troubleshooting guides, you should check out GitHub’s Pages Help section. If all else fails, you should contact GitHub Support.