Justin Tennant



A Zola theme for blogging and projects (what this website runs on!)

papaya is a theme I developed for Zola, the static site generator I use to build my website.

Here are some of its features:

  • Blog posts
  • Project pages
  • Categories and tags
  • Featured images for posts/pages
  • Smart image embedding shortcode (img())
  • GitHub repository star/fork counts
  • Open Graph Protocol tags
  • Social/contact links
  • 100% Google Lighthouse score


The theme is on display in the Zola themes gallery, and its source code is available on GitHub (MIT license).

To install, follow the Installation steps in the README.


Back in early 2021, I first began rebuilding my website with Zola using the Anpu theme. I liked the clean and minimal aesthetics it provided, leaving out the fluff and putting the content first.

A few months into customizing the theme to my liking, I realized I’d changed a lot of Anpu’s core structure to support my desire to showcase my projects. I’d also added a bunch of new features on top of tweaking a significant amount of the theme’s styling too.

At some point I figured my changes were enough to warrant a whole fork, and thus papaya was born!

Core principles🔗

TODO: gotta fill this out eventually :)


Creating themes for Zola is really simple - all you need to do is build a website and add the theme.toml file.

During development of my website, I discovered quite a few inspirational tidbits on the internet that drove my final feature list and design aesthetics:

  • The Lunaria color palette: algorithmically generated to replicate the ink-on-paper experience on a screen as best as possible. For a while I considered using this palette to style papaya’s post content, but instead went with a simpler “black & white with signature color highlights” color palette.

    I was however heavily inspired by Lunaria’s strongly purpose-driven design; for many of papaya’s design choices I tried to derive a particular reason and purpose for the decisions I made. I may return to this palette at a later date and try building a Lunaria-based Zola code highlighting theme.

  • mwaskom.github.io: Michael Waskom’s (creator of seaborn) website.

  • khyperia.com: khy’s simple, clean, and charming personal website.

  • Code & Visuals: Karl Li’s (senior software engineer of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Hyperion renderer) quality content-rich website and blog.

  • web.dev: a whole array of useful web development tips, suggestions, and tutorials, curated by Google Web Developers. This also led me to understanding web accessibility and using Google Lighthouse for tracking performance, accessibility, and SEO metrics.

  • Open Graph Protocol: basically, extra HTML header tags to enrich your content for display on social media.