Brian Scramlin
Nerd Specs Creative

Nerd Specs Creative

How to Choose a Blog Platform

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How to Choose a Blog Platform

Brian Scramlin's photo
Brian Scramlin
Β·Feb 18, 2022Β·

5 min read

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The Criteria

I have blogged in the past, but I have struggled with finding the right balance between

  • Site Speed
  • Appearance
  • Ease of Writing
  • Reach
  • Portability

All divided by how much time I have to spend developing the thing.

Let's use a point system.

  • 😍 = 2
  • 😐 = 1
  • πŸ˜– 0

My Experience

WordPress

  • Site Speed: πŸ˜–
  • Appearance: 😍
  • Ease of Writing: 😍
  • Reach: 😐
  • Portability: 😐

Score: 6

Overview

The general issue with WordPress is to increase speed and customization, you must increase the complexity of development and decrease out-of-the-box niceties.

Site Speed πŸ˜–

Unless rolling your own theme, you are at the mercy of the theme-developer. You'll often find things like:

  • Loading the entire Bootstrap library, instead of parsing through the SCSS and JS needed for the site.
  • Not lazy loading images.
  • Auto-loading jQuery and other full JS libraries for one or two minor features.

Further, everything is bundled, which used to be important for speed optimization. However, the modern web no longer favors large blocking bundles, but small, delayed, prioritized ones.

Appearance 😍

WordPress themes often look quite good. There is not much to say here.

Ease of Writing 😍

I absolutely love the WordPress Gutenberg editor. It allows markdown or rich text and supports columns, as well as third-party blocks. It is an excellent block editor and I wish it were based on an open-standard so I could use it in my client sites.

Reach 😐

There are many options for shareability on WordPress, as well as good SEO plugins. I would definitely rate it high. However, traffic is completely dependent on organic or paid reach. There is no community-feed reach, as with Dev.to or Hashnode.

Portability 😐

I'm probably being a little unfair here. Exporting to WordPress XML isn't technically your only option. However, third-party plugins are required for JSON. I would rather have everything pure markdown and in a repository.

Custom Site

  • Site Speed: 😍
  • Appearance: 😍
  • Ease of Writing: 😐
  • Reach: πŸ˜–
  • Portability: 😐

Score: 6

Overview

Keep in mind, the way I consider these factors is not "doability" but how they jive with the time I actually want to spend working on the tool itself. I have other projects to focus on, and I want to be creating content, not constantly working on blog engine.

Imagine this scenerio: You are a full-time mechanic who enjoys driving Uber on nights and weekends. Do you want to spend your after-hours working on the car, or driving people?

Site Speed 😍

Site speed should be no issue for an experienced developer. Whether it's a static HTML site, a Next.js, Nuxt.js, or ProcessWire site, it will be as fast as you make it. I'm sure if you're reading this, you are cacheing, lazy-loading, optimizing images, loading only the resources you need, etc.

Appearance 😍

It looks as good as you make it :) However, I will say I've met many developers who are great with algorithms, but are terrible at design. In this sense, I could knock down appearance to a 😐. For me, I enjoy design as much as development.

Ease of Writing 😐

I have used many rich text editors from TinyMCE to Quill.js to CKEditor and none of them compare with something like Gutenberg. An open source block editor is something we are in serious need of that is based on outputting CSS Grid through inline styles or some sort of dynamic class system without bloat.

Reach πŸ˜–

Can I just say, I hate dealing with API tokens and authorization? The amount of time I have spent writing server scripts to check the renewal date for long tokens is barely worth the effort when I could use some sort of plugin. While anything and everything is possible with a custom blog, I felt like wiring up sharing was annoying. Plus, I'm just a blog lost in the wind without a platform like Dev.to or Hashnode.

Portability 😐

This is generally what you make it. On my last PHP-based blog I had a function I could call to retrieve all the blog posts quite easily, but there was finesse involved in getting them into JSON. Again, work is involved. Depending on the backend you used it could be easy or hard.

Static Site Generator

I do not have experience using a static site generator. Could someone let me know how they were rate their experience according to site speed, appearance, ease of writing, reach, and portability? I would guess it is similar to a custom site, except portability is way easier due to a repository of markdown files.

Score: Unknown

Blogging Platform

  • Site Speed: 😍
  • Appearance: 😐
  • Ease of Writing: 😐
  • Reach: 😍
  • Portability: 😍

Score: 8 Winner!

Overview

A blogging platform is an all-in-one SaaS which provides you an editor, contend delivery, and an audience. Some examples are Medium, Dev.to, and Hashnode.

Site Speed 😍

Speed should be great as the platforms are all CDN-based.

Appearance 😐

Appearance is so-so, since there is limited customization. However, it's also hard to make it look terrible.

Ease of Writing 😐

Ease-of-writing is alright. The positives are

  • Markdown
  • Easy embedding
  • Code insertion

However, lack of columns, separate preview tabs, and lack of third-party modules doesn't wow me.

Reach 😍

Reach is excellent due to the built-in audience, share buttons, and SEO.

Portability 😍

Portability, at least on Hashnode is excellent. All I need to do is click "export" and I get everything in a nice JSON file.

Conclusion

I have chosen to publish on Hashnode. I was able to sign up, throw in my blog.nerdspecs.com address as the host name, and launch in about 5 minutes. No joke.

As I said earlier, many developers fall into the trap of "working on their car" and never get to the "Uber" part. If you want to write, then get writing. And if you want to write now, consider a blogging platform like Hashnode.

Help others who read this!

What criteria would you add?

What platform or technology stacks would you add as blogging options?

Do you agree or disagree with my experience?

And, I really would like to hear from someone on their experience with static site generatorsβ€”Which one do you use? What do you like about it? How does it stack up in according to the criteria I suggested?

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