Keeping it Simple - Best Blog System

Wordpress, Technorati, GBC stickers
Wordpress, Technorati, GBC stickers (Photo credit: Titanas)

Finding the Best Blogging System

This is a journey that I am still on.  I have changed blogging platforms several times and have enjoyed the benefits of each one. If you trust me and simply want the best blogging solution then just scroll to the bottom.  For those of you that may need a different solution than me it would benefit you to read on.

There are millions of CMS systems out there, and it is possible to build your own.  I like feature rich blogs that are capable, reliable, easy to use, and efficient. I also like the ability to control all styling and content

Goals for my personal Blog
  • Efficient
  • Social media features (share, comment, interact)
  • Ability to easily add photos and videos
  • Reliability
  • Low Maintenance (Time issue)
  • Own domain (Nerd)
  • No distractions -  (minimized forced copyright notices, distractions, and overall cleanliness and appearance. 

... a migration story.


I chose to go with a self hosted version of Wordpress. Wordpress.org provides you with the application to install on your own hosting account for free.  

With many of the features of their own blogging service (aka Wordpress.com), it is a full featured blogging system with many more features that you can ever imagine.  You can install third party plug ins, and modules to accomplish just about anything you want to on your blog.

Some of the features that sold me on Wordpress.org were.

  •  Cheap (free software on my own hosting account.)
  •  Easy to update. (Excellent mobile app for iPhone to create post from anywhere with pictures.)
  •  Location Detection (Every time I would make a post it would record the location I posted from.)
  •  Flexible design options. (You can create a home page to look exactly how you imagine it, plus thousands of third party themes. )
  • No Coding Necessary (Since there is a module for just about anything you will rarely have to mess with code.)
  • Beautiful Interface (From their full screen editor to their dashboard and stats, everything is easy to use and looks amazing.)
I used a self hosted Wordpress site for about 2 years.  There were several nuisances that I must inform you of if you decide to go this route.

Cons...

You will get spam comments almost everyday.  This is ok if you want back links to web sites, but it did not build any traffic to my site and created lots of work to delete them. One of my sites received over 5,000 comments in three months.  In order to delete them I had to delete the entries from the database or spend hours deleting them 50 at a time. 

There is a service you can add to prevent the spam comments, but it cost $5 a month.  I have seen a few other plug ins that were free, but I never tested them. 

Tedious updating. Wordpress does a remarkable job of providing you with updates.  Your dashboard will light up when there are updates to install every few weeks.  Of course any time you update the installation you will most likely have to test all your plug ins to make sure they work too. If the automatic update does not work you will have to put off writing that new blog entry and open your ftp program and get to work. I have spent as much as 8 hours updating the software then resolving plugin issues that resulted from the update.  Make sure you back up regularly! If you break your site or corrupt your database you will need to reload your web site, or start again from scratch.

Wordpress as a Service

Since I really enjoyed using Wordpress most of the time, and to resolve the update issues above I looked into Wordpress.com. You can start a blog right away for free and they only charge for individual services.

As your site grows in visitors they have elite memberships and plans you can upgrade to.  They do an amazing job at providing a well updated blog service on fast servers.  As a blog member you will be part of the Wordpress community and receive blog visits regularly from the community. Be prepared to spend some money if you go with this service though.  I would recommend starting with another service when you first get started blogging.  Wordpress.com is like Apple is to PC. More expensive, but you do get what you pay for.

Reasons I chose not to go with Wordpress.com

  • In order to map your own domain to your site (i.e. tommysblog.com) you have to pay $12 per year.
  • Their basic starter package is $99 per year.
  • You cannot advertise on your site without splitting the revenue 50/50 on a free site and must apply with them to run ads.
  • Their ping times were slower than Typepad, faster than GoDaddy, and comparable to Google.
  • With so many options I was looking for a platform that would allow me to map domains for free, and concentrate on what I love to do. Write.
With exactly what I was looking for in mind I began to look for a service that would meet all of my needs.
  • More time writing and less time maintaining.
  • Fixed expense that is easy to predict.
  • SEO compatible.
  • Simple.
  • Fast.
  • Efficient.

TypePad

That is when I found Typepad.  I started looking at the blogs I follow and noticed a number of them were using TypePad.  I had not heard of them before, and was hesitant to sign up with them.  Luckily they will give you a 14 day free trial, before you pay $15 a month.  I tested their service and am very happy to have found them as a blogging platform.

Reasons I Chose TypePad

  • Easy to use.
  • Fast servers.
  • SEO compliant.
  • They maintain the software.
  • No need to mess with code to make a great blog.
  • Easy to map domains to your site using CNAME Alias on your domain account.
  • No hidden charges.
  • As many blogs as you wish.
  • You can add authors to your blogs without confusing them with too many options.
  • Junior authors cannot modify the settings, or design of the site.
Once I chose to go with TypePad I began the chore of porting over my blogs from my self-hosted Wordpress site.  Of course, such an operation could not possibly be expected to go thoroughly smooth, and I did run into several issues.  I will say though that it was much easier than some migration jobs I have had to do and I am confident that anyone with limited coding experience could figure it out. 

TypePad is reliable, and hassle free blogging at its simplest. I would definitely recommend them as a stable blogging platform.  

Further Adventures in Blogging.

On my quest to find the perfect blogging solution for me I abandoned TypePad and re-visited a number of solutions including Drupal, Joomla, Wordpress, and Piwigo. 

Then I was introduced to Coldfusion.  I began working as a Coldfusion developer and embraced the technologies I was learning.  Coldfusion is an interesting scenic route in programming.  There are features that are made easier by Coldfusion such as the manipulation of Pdfs, but others that will turn into an ugly spaghetti mess faster than you can move to the next project.  

For Blogging there are very limited options for a solid blogging platform.  I tested Mura, BlogCFC, Mango, Teapot, and Coldbox. 
  • Mura - Works well most of the time, however it did not fit my taste. 
  • BlogCFC - Works, but limited features and plugins compared to other CMS.
  • Mango -  I thought I would love Mango, but some nuances made me miss Wordpress. 
  • Teapot - Honestly this was the best system for me to learn the workings of Coldfusion.  Teapot has virtually no features but the programming code is clean and simple.  There is lots of room for developer improvement and is an excellent empty foundation for building your own Blog in Coldfusion. 
The absolute best Coldfusion blogging system was ContentBox by Luis Majano.  Luis is the creator of ColdBox platform on top of which ContentBox was created.  Luis is a very active developer and excited about his projects. You can reach him and he  is always enthusiastic to share his passion for coding and salsa dancing.  Until recently Luis used Wordpress for his personal blog and is now using his very own ContentBox.
ContentBox is still in its growing stage and has several bugs, but with Wordpress setting the standard ContentBox is well on it's way to becoming a solid secure platform.  

Adobe Business Catalyst.

Since I work with adobe products on a daily basis I decided to take a look at what Adobe had to offer for hosting. 

I found they have an outstanding software as a service site they refer to as Adobe Business Catalyst. Adobe allows you to start with one of their own professionally designed templates, or create your own using virtually any of the Adobe Creative Suite Products. 

With ABC you will never have to mess with the databases, coding, or anything you do not like to do.  If your dream is to start an e-commerce site, and you care not about jQuery plugins, coding, or updating this is your option. 
  • Cons: ABC is very expensive compared to other hosting options, however if all you need is a basic blog then you can get the Marketing package for $18 a month and use products like Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Muse, and Animate to create stunning visual appearance to your page.
  • Pros:  They take care of updating, coding, and testing new features so you can concentrate on your projects. 

My Final Choice.

I am a full time developer so I do not have a lot of time to do all the things I would like to do.  Being a developer has hindered my development in writing because I am always trying to create a better vessel to carry the information in.  

My experience with each and every one of the systems above has given me plenty of experience in understanding various structures of organizing and transmitting your information. Technology is growing at a speed that no single person can keep up with.  

I created a blogger account back in 2008 and skipped over them in lieu of chasing more features.  Google has done a fantastic job creating a simple, reliable, non-coding blogging platform that allows me to concentrate on writing. Since Google also owns Picassa, I can add my photos through virtually any device and any location. I can display additional information such as photo locations, and easily embed albums to entries.  

For me this is the absolute best blogging platform. 

Reasons Blogger is my solution.

  • Efficiency - No coding, updating, or other maintenance.. You will never be bothered with a version number and broken plugins cause the original developer never fixed it. Thanks Google!
  • SEO - Google is focused on getting your information to those looking for it. They already have the social media features such as Facebook, and Google+ integration built in. 
  • Management - Since existing social media accounts are used to interact with your site there is no need for me to keep records of my readers data.  I don't need your personal information, just your interaction. 
  • Mobility - You can post via email, the mobile blogger app, and many other blogging clients such as LiveWriter, MacJournal, and MarsEdit. 
  • Reliability - Content I posted in 2008 was virtually untouched and worked just as I did when I originally posted it.  (Try loading Wordpress with plugins and watch it deteriorate over time. )
  • Extendability - Can seamlessly snap into an iframe in another website. You can use <b:if></b:> tags in the template for controlling which sections appear on what pages, device, or based on another variable. Template is a single HTML file making navigation a breeze to learn (don't let the 2000 lines of code scare you, it is small compared to most CMS templates. 
Ties in with my other Google subaccounts.. Gmail, Youtube, Picassa, and Google+. 

Since everyone is looking for something different I cannot tell you what system would be best for your application.  I have thought all the above were the solution for me at one point.  You cannot go wrong testing any of the above platforms and the experience will only help you find what your truly looking for. 

If you have found a great solution for blogging and would like to share it please leave it in the comments for our readers. Or if you have any updated information that would be useful.  Everything changes.  I can remember thinking Blogger charged for hosting, but perhaps that has changed too cause it is free now. 

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