The moment you realize that there is more to blogging than just writing out your ideas. The whole experience might become cumbersome or even daunting.

As a blogger, you spend a lot of time using a Content Management System (CMS). Instead of installing and upgrading plugins or modifying themes. Producing quality content should be on top of your priorities list.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. World of Plugins
    1.1 Everything is free, for a price
    1.2 Updates, updates everywhere
    1.3 Takeaways
  2. Why just don't go with the flow?
    2.1 So maybe another PHP replacement
    2.2 Go where (almost) no man has ever gone before
  3. In search of a new hope
    3.1 Focus on the few, not on the many
    3.2 Python CMS
    –  3.3 PROS
    –  3.4 CONS
    3.5 JavaScript CMS
    –  3.6 PROS
    –  3.7 CONS
    3.8 Takeaways
  4. Conclusion

World of Plugins

After finding a pretty looking theme on the theme market, you decide to give it a shot. When you download and install it, you quickly realize that it's not how it looked in the advertisement. Either you have to customize the theme for yourself by manually editing the CSS and HTML or, you need to download multiple plugins and import a load of files to make it look presentable, at least.

WordPress got you covered on that part. There is a plugin almost for anything. Although plugins have their use by making your tasks effortless, they also add a layer of unwanted complexity to the table.

The more things you add, the more you have to keep track of, and by doing so, you also significantly increase the attack vector.

Everything is free, for a price

Although most of the plugins are free according to their advertisements, there is almost always a catch. They are free as long as you don't use that one feature that you actually need.

Were you ever in need of restoring your database and assumed that by downloading a plugin, you'd save a lot of time just by a single click of a button? Only to find out that your database (although minimal) is too big for the free version, and now you have to pay for the premium one to unlock it and make it work?

If this sounds familiar to you, then you probably already know that by taking a shortcut, your straightforward task might turn into a side project of finding the right plugin instead of you completing your task.

Updates, updates everywhere

The ecosystem of WordPress resembles that of Microsoft Windows in a way. Give users the freedom to install or modify anything with a click of a button, and they'll do it up to the point where the WordPress Admin Panel becomes a resemblance of a game of Whack-A-Mole. And before you realize it, fighting relentless update notifications becomes a part of your daily routine.

Although updates do have their purpose when patching for security vulnerabilities, bug fixes, or by adding new functionality. They also introduce version control to the table. Each update comes with a list of changes with which you should become familiar. Whether you decide to read the changelogs or not might affect your WordPress website.

And did you remember to make those backups?

Should you choose not to, as a lot of people do. Your update might break your website, as your plugins might not be compatible with your version of WordPress or even with each other. Sometimes it might even take days before it becomes apparent to you that something's broken. And the difficulty of finding a root cause only increases if you decide to run the update in bulk instead of one by one.

Takeaways

  • If you spend a considerable time looking for it, you'll find the right theme or a plugin.
  • Having a lot of plugins leaves a lot to be taken into consideration.
  • The strengths of WordPress are also its weaknesses.

Why just don't go with the flow?

Ok, we got it. You don't like plugins. But WordPress consists of more than just plugins, and everyone is using it as it's the most popular CMS out there. So why even bother with anything else?

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results equals insanity does seem like a valid point here. Taking my previous experience with WordPress into consideration only reinforced this thought.

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.

So maybe another PHP replacement

So, no WordPress. What now? WordPress being the all-consuming market share maw, leaving not a lot of space left for the competition when based on the numbers. When looking at some other options for a CMS written in PHP, it essentially boils down to Drupal and Joomla. However, when comparing these two to WordPress, it's more of the same, only with a lot less refinement. You'd still be needing plugins or custom modifications to make themes work.

Of course, if you have the skills, you can make any site look good on any platform without the need for a theme or a plugin. However, if content creation is all that you want, or you're just starting with blogging, then going this route might not be the best option for you.

Go where (almost) no man has ever gone before

But what other options are there, if any? And if not PHP, then what? Is there even life outside of PHP? The answer is straightforward. Yes. Yes, there is. If you're brave enough to try something new, your curiousness might reward you, and you might even acquire a new skill along the way. Follow along on this journey into uncharted territory once you decide to leave the path of least resistance.

In search of a new hope

When looking at the numbers, everyone always seems to point out the number of currently active WordPress installs, which is fine because that's certainly a selling point. However, this does not paint the whole picture as you're only presenting data that's going back, with no actual data with an outlook on the future. What if we look at the numbers based on current vs. outdated technology?

Now the data does not look that promising anymore, and we can see a steady declining trend gradually decreasing with every passing year. On the opposite, we have JavaScript and Java with Python taking off to the moon. You might say, but isn't reading graphs like predicting the stock market? It might as well go up. Well, lets' have a look at the current sentiment towards a specific technology.

While the PHP language in itself does rank as one of the least favorite languages, it's nothing compared to WordPress as it ranks as the most dreaded platform out there. And even though a sentiment does not always reflect the current demand, there are certainly some parallels drawn here as it also ranks as by far the least wanted platform.

But why do these numbers matter? If the sentiment is negative, fewer developers are willing to spend their time developing new or maintaining existing code, resulting in fewer features and update releases and an even further decrease over time. On the other hand, with a positive sentiment and preferred technology, the trend will only continue to grow as it produces more jobs and draws more developers into it.

Focus on the few, not on the many

So if these programming languages and frameworks are so much better than PHP and WordPress, how come we never heard of any website using them? Well, let's give some examples of that. PayPal and Yahoo were built with JavaScript, while YouTube and Instagram with Python. As you can see, the potential for greatness is certainly there.

Now you might think, that's very nice. But those are only programming languages. How does this apply to blogging, and is there even a respective CMS? Right, let's take a look at that. Searching the web and sifting through often sponsored posts does not always bring the best answer right away. A quick search on Slant (website for displaying alternatives based on user experiences) usually does.

Python CMS

A quick search for What are the best Python based CMSs? returns Wagtail and Django CMS as the most recommended Python-based platforms.

Like always, there are pros and cons to each situation. Hence your decision should be based on your current technical skill. Are you willing to put in the work and learn a new skill along the way? Or do you want to keep it strictly to content creation? Here are some key points you should consider when choosing a Python-based CMS.

PROS

  • Most popular and fastest-growing programming language driven by AI and Machine Learning.

CONS

  • Do not have a hosted environment to deal with the technical stuff.
  • Steep learning curve on the back-end side.
  • The amount of free and good-looking themes is scarce.

JavaScript CMS

Another quick search for What is the best Node.js-based CMS? results in Ghost being the most recommended.

But you mentioned JavaScript. Why the result shows Node.JS, and what is it? To oversimplify things, it just basically is JavaScript on the backend. Meaning you can run it not only in a web browser but also as an application on your machine.

PROS

  • 2nd most popular programming language out there.
  • Hosted and self-hosted environment.
  • Abundance of free and beautiful themes.
  • Headless CMS.

CONS

  • Like with PHP and Python, there is a steep learning curve should you decide to go under the hood.
  • Although the pricing seems comparable to WordPress premium hosting, it certainly isn't inexpensive if you're only starting to blog.

Takeaways

A Python-based CMS currently does not fall in the category of the most easy-to-use CMS, as there are no hosted versions for someone like a content creator who only wants to blog and doesn't want to deal with the technical stuff.

Ghost, a JavaScript-based (Node.JS) CMS, gives you the option to configure it all by yourself or let the Ghost team do it for you. Either way, it's extremely easy to set-up, there is no need for you to learn how to customize themes, and you don't need any plugins to make it work. Furthermore, being a Headless CMS, Ghost provides the developer with the freedom to combine the backend through the usage of its API with any preferred technology stack.

CONCLUSION

Having considered all of the above, I've decided to go with a JavaScript-based CMS - Ghost. Ghost, being a full-blown, out-of-the-box, easy-to-use CMS. With beautiful-looking themes that are optimized for speed, SEO and look exactly like in the advertisement. There is no need for editors, plugins, or custom modifications. It's blazingly fast and easy to use. To sum it all up, exactly what you need if all that you care for is blogging.