Why Ghost Put Wordpress in My Rearview Mirror

Introduction

I recently migrated my blog, InnoArchiTech, from Worpress to Ghost and will not be looking back. I wrote this article to highlight the reasons for the switch, some differences between Wordpress and Ghost, and why I love Ghost as a blogging platform.

Note that this is my personal opinion as to why Ghost works better for my needs, but is not meant to indicate that Wordpress is inadequate in any way. It has served me well and I admire the creators and contributors of the project. Wordpress definitely has its uses. For me however, Ghost is hands down the better solution for my blogging needs.

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Background

I created InnoArchiTech to write about technical topics that I’m passionate about. I’m also a professional full stack software architect and engineer, so I have a passion for software and related technologies.

Before creating InnoArchiTech, I knew that I wanted a blogging platform that was very hands-off, simple to use, and quick to get up and running. I’m constantly busy with software projects, so finding an easy to use, plug-and-play framework was my goal. I had previous experience with Wordpress and knew that it would get the job done, so I set up a hosting account, created a fresh Wordpress install, and was off and running in no time.

Wordpress for Blogging

There is no doubt that Wordpress can be used as a blogging platform, but I never felt that it worked well in that capacity for me. Don’t get me wrong, Wordpress is hugely established, has a vast community, is very stable, and just works. That’s important since the last thing that you want to deal with is debugging your blog.

The problem for me had nothing to do with Wordpress not working, or not getting the job done. The problem always had to do with feeling that I was using a sledgehammer to put a pushpin into a corkboard. I wanted a simple blogging platform that I could use to write and publish articles, along with a few static pages. Wordpress felt like overkill.

The administrator’s user interface (UI) for Wordpress is incredibly cluttered, confusing, and has way too many options for the typical blogger. It’s amazing how often I’d click through menus to find what I’m looking for, despite my years of experience with the platform.

The amount of UI elements, icons, links, metadata, sections, subsections, snippets, messages, ads, menus, and submenus scattered throughout is really amazing. There’s also a dashboard that’s perhaps useful, but I’ve never been able to fit it into my workflow. Navigating and carrying out tasks around the admin UI is also not intuitive or pleasurable to me.

There are a ton of plugins available for Wordpress, but that isn’t an advantage to me for a basic blogging platform. I find Wordpress’s plugin search to be hard to navigate, filter on, and ultimately difficult to determine what plugin is best. For a simple blogging platform, I’m not really sure how many plugins you actually need anyway. Certain additions would be nice, but I’m getting along splendidly with absolutely none.

The Wordpress Editor

The last component of Wordpress I’d like to discuss is the editor for page and post content. It has gotten better over time, but for me, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The editor is not very pleasant to look at, and the text is very small and hard to read. The page in general also makes it virtually impossible for me to focus on writing given all of the menus, metadata, subsections, and everything else. There is however, a distraction free mode that makes most of that stuff go away, but ultimately doesn’t improve the text size or writing aesthetics for me.

I wound up purchasing iA Writer for the mac, which is a markdown and HTML editor. What a difference that made, and talk about a pleasurable piece of software to look at and use. I wrote my posts in iA Writer, exported to HMTL, and then pasted the exported text into the Wordpress raw HTML editor. This involved a multi-step and multi-application workflow, which was less than ideal. I could have written my content in the built-in editor, but chose not to.

Either way, I finally thought to myself, Alex, what are you doing?.

Ghost for the Win!

I began doing a little research for an alternate solution, and eventually came across Ghost. There were three things that immediately grabbed my attention. The first was the product’s tagline, the second was the software stack on which it’s built, and the third was its beauty and simplicity.

Let’s start with the tagline. The tagline for Ghost is Just a Blogging Platform. It’s actually quite brilliant, meaningful, and somewhat deep in my opinion.

Suppose you’ve never created or maintained a blog before, and you went for Ghost straight away. I honestly think that you’d probably not appreciate the meaning of, or even notice the tagline at all. You’d likely think something to yourself like, Wow; this Ghost platform is great looking, easy to use, and fun to blog with.

The true meaning and brilliance of the tagline is when you have a frame of reference. Wordpress is that frame of reference for me. Ghost really is just a blogging platform and it’s awesome at it. It’s gorgeous to look at, easy to use and manage, and let’s you focus on writing. You know the feeling you have when you first walk into your front door after a long trip away, that’s usually accompanied with a sigh of relief? That’s the feeling I had when I first fired up a Ghost instance, and still feel that way when writing in Ghost every time.

Stack-wise, Ghost is built on JavaScript-based technologies such as Node.js, Handlebars, etc. I love JavaScript and related technologies, as well as work with them professionally, so this was a no-brainer for me.

The last thing that lured me to Ghost was the beauty and simplicity as mentioned. Everything, and I mean everything, about the UI looks great. This includes the menus, icons, buttons, sections, content editor (which uses markdown by the way, also a major plus), static and hover styles, messaging, and so on. The admin UI is incredibly intuitive, simplistic, functional, and ultra-pleasurable for blogging. I can’t recommend it enough.

Summary

Wordpress is a great platform in many ways, and is able to do a lot. It’s particularly good for full-blown websites that require lots of out-of-the-box and/or plugin-driven functionality. If you decide to start your own blog and go with Wordpress, I’m sure it will get the job done for you. In the end though, Wordpress isn’t the blogging solution that I was looking for.

Ghost is exactly what I want in a non-static blogging platform. It’s amazing how awesome it is so soon after its public release in late 2013. I’m super excited about the potential future enhancements outlined in the platform’s roadmap. I only hope that the platform doesn’t get carried away with excessive configurability and customizability, UI clutter, and features in general.

If you are in the market for a blogging platform and haven’t decided on one yet, I highly recommend giving Ghost a shot. I did, and now Wordpress is getting farther back and smaller in the rearview mirror as I go.

Alex Castrounis