May 25, 2015

Farewell to Ghost

If you’re reading this from the RSS feed, you won’t notice, but folks on the site will have seen a transformative update of the blog go live yesterday.

The update was multi-faceted and might seem unusual to those who read my post about switching to Ghost, but here we are one year later…back on WordPress.

Let me backtrack for a second. The slow trickle of posts lately has to do with a terrible client situation that I’ve only recently managed to extricate myself from—a story for another day. The more interesting reason is that I’ve been working on this redesign for some time now, and pondering it for even longer.

Here’s the thing: Ghost is an amazing product built by wonderful people who are making progress toward their goal of becoming the ultimate blogging platform. The issue is that they’re just not there yet. While I was glad to support them for a year by publishing via the Ghost(Pro) service, I ran into an increasing number of small annoyances.

Many I could forgive, but others impact my ability to grow the blog the way I want to. At the point where I’m forced to choose between the health of my writing endeavours and the support of a platform that no longer meets my needs, the decision becomes self-evident. That doesn’t mean it was easy though, and I will miss some aspects of Ghost.

Most of the problems I had stem from the fact that the conveniences of more mature platforms are absent, so you end up having to implement and test functionality yourself. I have no problem getting my hands dirty, but when the scope of what I want to accomplish demands a lot of time spent hacking away at the site, then I have to look at my priorities. Time spent tweaking is time not spent writing, and a blog without content isn’t much of a blog.

Which brings me back to WordPress. If it’s good enough for Wired and their spectacular redesign, it’s good enough for me.

Along the way, I considered several other options. Most notable among them was Kirby, a flat-file CMS that’s becoming increasingly popular among the tech crowd. It has speed in its favour, infinite customization potential, and the security of flat files. I actually got as far as prototyping a new design with Kirby, until I realized something: migrating to Kirby wouldn’t solve the problems that pushed me away from Ghost. I would face the same constraints of a fledgling platform, and I would still have to face a steep learning curve.

One thing in WordPress’ favour has always been that there’s no learning curve for me. I work with WordPress on client projects all the time, and I know it pretty intimately. The argument that I made last year was that WordPress is bloated when all you’re doing is blogging. In hindsight, I would characterize it not as bloated but as overqualified. WordPress is essentially overkill for putting words on a page. But does it matter if it runs well?

As it turns out, this blog is faster than the Ghost one. About twice as fast, in fact. WordPress moves quickly when you tune it for speed. Much of that happens on the server side of things, with fascinating technologies like Mercury emerging to push the threshold of WordPress performance. I keep an eye on these innovations, and as I was contemplating this rebuild I experimented with various configurations to find a happy balance. I opted for reliable performance over bleeding edge speed, but as Mercury develops I may well switch the back-end to shave a few extra milliseconds off the loading times.

At the end of the day, my goal is to publish good content. If I can easily implement and test new site ideas without having to spend days building them, I can spend those days writing instead.

So I bid a fond farewell to Ghost.

Speaking of good content, my article queue is really exciting right now—keep an eye out for two camera reviews, a Surface shoot-out, and another look at the read-it-later debate! I’m happy to say that you’ll start seeing a more regular flow of articles now that this site revision has launched.

For those of you sticking around: thank you. For those of you who’ve just arrived: welcome!

Say hello, let me know what you think of the new design. I love hearing from you.

digital lifestyle technology

Did You Find This Post Helpful?

Previous Post
Kindle vs. Kobo: The Future of Reading The future of reading
Next Post
Google Inbox: 8 Months Later