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Welcome

Here we are! I am Silviu, a software engineer by profession & by  heart. Welcome to the first article on my technical blog.

TL;DR

I have decided to go with WordPress for keeping up this very blog. From the technical perspective, I have been looking for the best platform to host a blog, so I have researched a suite of static site generators, Medium and WordPress.

In the next lines, I am taking one by one each option and motivate in the end my final decision.

Choosing the Right Blogging Platform

What Am I Looking For

The right tool for the right job, ability to start writing within minutes. Good security and hosting options.

Options

  1. Static site generators
  2. Medium
  3. WordPress

Evaluating Static Site Generators

A static site is a collection of files HTML, CSS & asset files like images and fonts. The entire structure of the HTML is hand-coded and uploaded to a hosting server. It is cheap and secure with no overhead in connecting a backend database.

A static site generator (SSG) improves over the above, by eliminating the need to repeat yourself with headers & footers on each page by using templates, generate an index page. Markdown is a popular choice to write your content that will be transformed into a static site, that can be uploaded to the live server.

There are plenty of choices. I will list below a few:

  • Hugo is a static site generator written in Go and it is optimized for speed. You write your templates and content in a folder as individual files and Hugo takes care of generating a full HTML website out of them.
  • Jekyll is another popular choice, written in Ruby, that transforms plain text into static websites and blogs.
  • Hexo is a blogging framework powered by Node.js with lots of plugins available from the community.

Static Site Generators – Pros

  • The static site generators have the lowest footprint. You upload just the HTML files and related assets (images, fonts, CSS).
  • There is no database backend to install and backup. Everything is in plain text. Backup is as simple as keeping your files in a GitHub repo.
  • Cheap hosting.
  • Most secure, as the end result is only a static website.

Static Site Generators – Cons

  • Static site generators are the hardest to configure and you must not be afraid of the command line.
  • In order to add commenting options to your blog, you’ll need to rely on third-party services like Disqus.
  • No out of box searching for articles.
  • There is an overhead maintaining the blog and keeping the generator up to date.

Evaluating Medium

Medium is the hot thing. It is a hosted free platform where anyone can write. About anything. You write your story. Publish. No third step.

Medium – Pros

  • Medium is free. No annoying ads.
  • It is the fastest way to go live.
  • It supports custom domains, so you can make your own branding.
  • SEO friendly.

Medium – Cons

  • While free it is a proprietary solution. As any business, Medium will need to make money out of this platform to be sustainable. What would it mean in the future: Ads? Pay for hosting? At the moment, I do not have a clear picture of their business model.
  • All blogs hosted on Medium look about the same. Not necessary a bad thing, as the general design and layout are very well thought. For this blog, I am using myself a premium WordPress theme that is inspired by Medium.
  • We are limited to what Medium is offering, and not an easy way to extend its functionality.

Evaluating WordPress

WordPress is a blogging powerhouse. It has more than 10 years of development behind. It is open source and tons of documentation should you like to go in custom details.

WordPress – Pros

  • It is a ubiquitous blogging platform that is in the offerings of most web hosting companies.
  • It is cheap to host, even free should you choose wordpress.com. See pricing section.
  • There are lots and lots of themes to choose from, either free or premium.
  • It is an extensible platform. You can use it as a fully fledged website, just as a blog, as an e-commerce site, etc. Your imagination is your limit.

WordPress – Cons

  • It can be hard to install and configure, given its dependencies, but many hosting providers are offering 1-click install options. I am using Dreamhost for hosting, and their offering is just as simple as that: one-click install.
  • Regarding maintainability, it often requires updating individually the plugins or the platform itself.
  • Backup usually means more than the site itself, but also its content – the MySQL database it depends on.

Decision Matrix

The following decision matrix is to help me decide. For different people or different usage scenarios, it can yield different scores. I recommend making your own decision matrix and give your own marks for each criterion.

Criteria/AlternativesStatic SitesMediumWordpress
TOTALS232731
Ease of editing & publishing articles355
Extensibility515
Designs / ready made templates415
Search for an article in the blog355
Comments & moderation355
Fastests way to go live253
Updating & maintainability353

Survey

References

  1. WordPress
  2. Medium
  3. Hugo
  4. Jekyll
  5. Hexo
  6. Medium vs WordPress – Choosing the Right Platform by Daniel Pataki
  7. Medium vs. WordPress: Battle of the Blogging Platforms by Kaya Ismail

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