Here we are! I am Silviu, a software engineer by profession & by ♥ heart. Welcome to the first article on my technical blog.
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.
- Static site generators
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Ease of editing & publishing articles||3||5||5|
|Designs / ready made templates||4||1||5|
|Search for an article in the blog||3||5||5|
|Comments & moderation||3||5||5|
|Fastests way to go live||2||5||3|
|Updating & maintainability||3||5||3|