The new content editor in the Ghost CMS, named Koenig, is quite good, a much smoother use than WordPress’s new Gutenberg. Ghost’s latest iteration in v1.25.3 (as of today) has a full-screen minimal layout and bold serif text type brought together with the Markdown goodness to yield a seamless combination of new and old: software that stays quiet and out of the way and Ghost’s original promise that writers won’t have to take their hands off the keyboard (which is mostly true).
(I’m personally not a big fan of the big font but I fixed that with a Chrome bookmarklet.)
I’ve been using WordPress for over 10 years and was recently looking forward to the release of Gutenberg, Automattic’s new writing experience to be introduced in v5.0. A plugin they’d released a short while ago allowed WP.org users to install and preview Gutenberg, and I’d tried it out as well and was quite pleased with it.
However, Koenig makes Gutenberg feel clumsy simply because Koenig does more with less. Ghost is already tailored specifically to writers, unless WordPress which promises a lot for a lot of people. Gutenberg carries this forward by offering a stunning number of types of blocks to edit, but this means the experience for the simple writer is again something that feels quite cluttered.
Compared to Koenig, Gutenberg is certainly a letdown, which means I have five options going forward: stay on WP.com and use Gutenberg; self-host WP and install the classic editor; switch to Ghost on a VPS to use Koenig; or use an independent text editor and use WP.com to publish. I’ve decided to go with the last option for now.
Of course, Ghost isn’t without its flaws either. For example, a recent pricing revision means the lowest tier of Ghost.org hosting costs $36/mo ($29/mo for annual subscriptions) – a crap deal for bloggers when I can get first-class managed WP hosting on Flywheel for $15/mo or LightningBase for $10/mo.
Second, the self-hosted version requires some coding; while Ghost’s instructions make it simple, the tougher part is in securing the server you’re going to host your blog on. (Digital Ocean’s tutorials help.)
Third, while the Ghost CMS has improved in the last three years, their front-end is still very magazine-y, effectively putting itself in a niche and not in a position to displace WordPress at all as the CMS of choice for bloggers who just want to blog.
To be fair, on the flip side Ghost is easier to customise once you’ve got it going, especially if you start from themes available outside its small marketplace.