Create a site with Github/Gitlab

You’ll be greeted with the welcome screen below.

Click the big Connect To Github button on the welcome screen (or alternatively click the link underneath to connect with Gitlab):

Netlify welcome screen

Login with your Github account (or create a new Github account):

Login with your Github account (or create a new Github account)

Click Save & Deploy to create a repository for your site in Github:

Confirm creation of a repository for your site in Github

Netlify will now generate your new site. Generally this takes around 1 to 5 minutes, but can take longer during busy periods. You’ll see the green “Published” notice appear under Production Deploys once it has completed.

Netlify will now generate your shiny new site
In the very unlikely case the build fails with a red “Failed” notice, click on the notice, and review the log. During exceptionally busy periods the error may read Error scheduling build in which case, wait a minute and then click Retry Deploy > Deploy Site to retry.

The random URL assigned to us by Netlify is quite irrelevant. Let’s customize the URL to something more relevant to our site…

View your domain (URL)

Click Edit site name

Click edit site name

Enter your name, separating your first and last name with a hyphen (-) rather than a space.

Alternatively, enter an organisation name if you’re creating a site for an organisation.

Some creativity may be required to find a subdomain that is freely available. Don’t worry about finding the perfect subdomain as later, we’ll register our own custom domain name and connect it with our site.

Click edit site name

Lastly, click Save to update our Netlify subdomain.

Awesome! We can now visit the site at the URL you chose!

We’ll see something similar to the Demo website, but without the demo content.

Now, let’s personalize our shiny new site based on our requirements ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Personalize your site

Login to GitHub and view the academic-kickstart repository which you created in the steps above:

View your site’s Markdown files on Github

Let’s click through to the config/_default/ folder:

Following this guide, we can click a file within the config/_default/ folder, click the pencil icon in the top right to edit the settings, and scroll to the bottom of the page to click the green Commit changes button to save the file. Optionally, when saving the file, we can add a message for our records, to describe the change.

First, let’s edit config.toml to update our site with a title (such as your name or organisation) and the URL assigned to us by Netlify:

Click the green Commit changes button to save the config.toml file:

Next, let’s edit params.toml to choose a theme and decide which features we’d like to use on our site. The Getting Started guide walks us through the main options to personalize our site.

Click the green Commit changes button to save the params.toml file:

A few minutes after saving (i.e. committing a file), your site will automatically update.

Next, let’s setup the admin panel and use it to edit our author profile and begin adding content to our site!

Edit content online

To easily edit your site in a rich online editor in your browser,

  • Login to Netlify and click the site you deployed with Netlify
  • Go to Settings > Identity, and select Enable Identity service
  • Under Registration preferences, select Invite Only
  • Scroll down to Services > Git Gateway, and click Enable Git Gateway

Head over to to view your content management panel and begin publishing content, replacing YOUR_SITE with the subdomain assigned to you earlier in this guide (or your custom URL, in the form

For support with Netlify CMS admin panel, refer to the Netlify CMS docs and the very active Netlify CMS community.

Check out the Content and Elements guides to learn about all the different kinds of content we can create with Wowchemy.

Note that the preview window in the online editor is limited to rendering basic Markdown and doesn’t accurately represent how your site will be rendered. However, it can be useful for getting started or writing on the go.

For the full experience of seeing exactly what you are editing, check out the next section to edit on your computer.

If you prefer not to use the admin panel, you can optionally delete the admin folder at static/admin/ and set netlify_cms = false under the [cms] section of config/_default/params.toml.

Personalize your homepage

View the Homepage Builder guide to learn how to add widgets to the homepage or other widget pages.

Navigate to the content/home/ folder in Github to edit your homepage widgets or to create/remove widgets.

Edit content on your computer

To edit your site in a Markdown editor on your computer, perform the steps in the Install with Git guide.

We highly recommend using either the beautifully simple Typora editor (which supports math and diagrams) or the incredibly popular free Visual Studio Code editor for writing content.

Alternatively, to edit Rmarkdown content, check out the Install with RStudio guide.


For inspiration, refer to the Markdown content which powers the Academic Template.

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