Torrential Tepid Tuesday: Why Ghost?

Mother nature has been quite upset with Tokyo since late last night, summoning her wet warriors to descend from the sky, bringing with them torrential downpour. As I awoke at 4am to prepare to hit the tarmac, I realized my riding hopes were dashed thanks to the sound of the assault she convened. Since I cannot ride this morning, please allow me to discuss why I have opted for this platform - Ghost - for the web site.

A Rainy Shibuya Crossing at Night
Photo by Finan Akbar / Unsplash

So here I sit at 5:20am, staring at my iMac's rather large screen rather than riding along the Tamagawa. Thanks to the never-ending rain I get an unwanted, undesired respite from my morning meditative escape through nature and along the smooth river route I enjoy so much. Sometimes you just have to take what life throws your way, and enjoy it to the maximum extent you can muster. Although I would prefer to be spinning rather than sitting, I am using this as an opportunity to work on the site and smooth out some of the rough edges.

Prior to launching saiklr I had narrowed my platform choices down to two I am very familiar with: Wordpress and Ghost. Although I am quite technical in nature, and even have a Digital Ocean account with some personal droplets, I had decided from the get-go to leverage the Pro services from either vendor. Although a bit more pricey than rolling my own server, I wanted a managed service so I could be unencumbered from the daily maintenance baggage. This would allow me to focus solely on content and not be concerned with some potential nagging vulnerability I failed to patch, leading to exploitation by malicious actors.

After digging into the details, I opted to go with Wordpress and initially launched the site on the platform. I have had a lot of experience with Wordpress throughout the years, often turning to it to run various properties I have launched or helped other deploy. The main allure with Wordpress is its power and extensibility. It is in no way, shape, or form limited - the possibilities are endless with the platform. This appealed to me. A lot. At least, at first.

Model: @Austindistel

Photographer: @breeandstephen
Photo by Austin Distel / Unsplash

The built-in commenting system, the community surrounding the Wordpress reader, and the ability to easily connect to people who are subscribed to tags I use in my posts were very appealing. This seemed like a quick and easy way to build interest in my content. The amount of customization I could employ to get the site to where I wanted it to be, both visually and functionally, was also an exciting value proposition. Wordpress appeared to be a much easier starting point than any other platform.

So I soft-launched the site on Wordpress at the beginning of June, writing a bit of content each day I returned from a morning meditative ride on Red Chameleon. The posts are quite beautiful, especially when including image galleries. The beautiful lightbox scripts allow me to easily highlight the various photos I share from my morning cycling ritual. There are no limitations on photo galleries in Wordpress, and writing seemed easy enough in the beginning.

In the weeks that followed the soft-launch, I soon realized Wordpress is actually not a really fun platform to use for writing, even though it is exceedingly powerful software. The Gutenberg editor is a much needed tool for the majority of the Wordpress community looking to build web sites. But for those who just want to write content, the newer editor does a much better job of getting in the way rather than facilitating actual writing.

Antique Typewriter on Dark Wood
Photo by Patrick Fore / Unsplash

Yes, I could write in Word and paste the content into a post, but Gutenberg is not that friendly - it has a number of quirks when dropping content in from other applications or off the clipboard. The more I wrote content on Wordpress the more I yearned for a better writing experience. This naturally brought me back to Ghost, where the focus has always been on writing quality content rather than being a swiss army knife for web site building.

Over the past weekend I decided to look into potentially migrating the site from Wordpress over to Ghost, even though I already expended a decent amount of capital on the platform, some additional scripts, and a custom theme. The latter point turned out to be the most difficult aspect of moving to Ghost: there just are not that many unique and decent looking themes available. Luckily, after hours of pouring through just about every theme available, I was able to find an outstanding design from a very talented designer on ThemeForest.

After purchasing and then installing the theme, I took to the task of slowly migrating the minimal amount of content from the Wordpress installation over to Ghost. I consciously opted to do this manually rather than via some export and import scripting. Why you ask? I needed to really familiarize myself with the Ghost content editor to ensure I am migrating for all the right reasons rather than some hunch.

Thus far it has been nothing but a pleasurable experience to write with Ghost. Although I had to break-up some of my galleries into multiple galleries within a post, the actual writing experience has been amazing. I find it far easier to concentrate on writing rather than worrying about content blocks. In short, it has been an invigorating experience.

Finally, the membership integration in Ghost is far superior to anything Wordpress currently offers. While the latter is much more powerful thanks to plug-ins like WooCommerce, I have found the built-in membership and newsletter features to be far easier to engage. It takes very little work to get memberships operational in Ghost, which means the barrier to entry is quite low. The less backend work I need to do to facilitate this capability the better.

This is the backstory about why I opted to go with Ghost rather than Wordpress. Moving forward, I will continue to tweak some of the thematic elements of the property, but the site is mostly a done deal. My primary focus onward is developing, writing, and publishing quality content.

Cozy Gloom
Photo by Danielle Dolson / Unsplash

While I bang on my keyboard, I sit next to an open window on this early Tuesday spring morning, listening to the calm and soothing sounds of mother nature's wet warriors attacking my neighborhood. I am comforted by the fact I have opted for a platform that does not get in my way, but one allowing me to focus by getting out of my way. Hopefully this will lead to not just more content, but more valuable information I may be able to share with the world.

I am but one amateur cyclist in Tokyo, though a motivated one who is interested in doing what I can to help make the world a better place, one letter at a time.

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