I had tried out WordPress years ago (think mid 2000’s), and thought it was clunky and somewhat difficult to use. Therefore when starting the blog for SIMMER, I decided I wanted to try something different.
After some research I found a blogging tool called Ghost. I really liked that it supported markdown and HTML directly, and was also a fan of the server running on node.js vs instead of PHP.
I’m not one to get in huge wars about programming languages, but but in my experience PHP is slow and difficult to develop and debug. Node.js is the future. Additionally, a 15 year old codebase like WordPress is bound to be a little rough and inefficient.
So, I tried out Ghost on their official website — where they provide the actual hosting service. The price was a little steep 29/mo but I wasn’t too deterred because having a fully managed service (upgrades, support, etc) was worth it to me.
But I ran into a pretty big snag with their trial–the biggest problem is that, with a custom domain (blog.simmer.io) I wanted to use HTTPS. Their guide suggested that I put my entire site behind a cloudflare CDN. I tried this but it did damage to my other subdomains–so I had to back that out. I contacted Ghost support and they said there was no way to do SSL without Cloudflare.
OK, so there was no way to do SSL with their managed service. But, since Ghost is open source, you can self host it. But I wanted at least a semi-prebuilt solution. So I headed over to Digitalocean which offers a preset installation of Ghost on one of their “droplet” servers.
This process wasn’t too bad. And eventually I was able to set up all my DNS servers to point to the correct server.
A few months later, I went to upgrade Ghost, and this was a far more difficult process. I managed to get my server hosed pretty bad and I had to call in the big guns (a technical director that I used to work with) to get everything back. I was almost certain everything had been deleted. It ended up being a permissions issue, but it was pretty infuriating and killed a day.
So I had been using Ghost for 8-10 months, somewhat happily. I liked editing articles in Markdown format, but one nitpick was that, for workflow reasons, I like to take screenshots to the copy buffer, and paste images directly into the article that I’m writing.
Additionally, while I thought that I liked writing in Markdown, I did find that it sometimes ruined my flow of thinking when I was trying to remember a command rather than simply typing out a thought.
At that point, the admin panel reminded me that I needed to update again. Ugh, I didn’t want to go through the hassle and pain of the upgrade process.
Additionally, I had been watching a great course on online marketing that highly recommended using WordPress as your CMS / blogging tool of choice. The reasoning was that, there are thousands and thousands of plugins for WordPress built specifically for marketers. And literally 31% of all websites–all websites on the internet run WordPress.
So after a little bit of comparison I decided to use siteground. I like that they automatically update WordPress for you and that they support let’s encrypt SSL.
So far the going has been a little bit rocky with the migration. My major challenge (again) is getting SSL up and running properly. Siteground’s chat support has been pretty solid, but I still don’t have this 100% figured out.
Anyway, so far I’m enjoying using WordPress, and I’m excited about the additional plugins and flexibility that it will offer me over Ghost.