Hello fellow readers.
I have entertained the idea of building a website before but never went through with it.
Sure, I could have hacked something up from scratch but admittedly, web design is not my main trade and that would be a lot of effort.
I considered WordPress, as that's something I have experience in, but for my basic needs it was way too much.
I dropped the idea for a while. But then I found Ghost, and wow, I was very impressed from the get-go:
I was sold.
They also offer managed hosting (which is expensive for my laughable needs), so I expected the installation on my own server to be at least a bit complex.
Boy, was I wrong.
Installing the beast
Installing Ghost was by far one of the most straightforward installation processes I have experienced in my life... On a server, at least.
The installation utility, after asking just a few basic questions, proceeded to:
- Install Ghost
- Configure Nginx with SSL using Let's Encrypt certificates
- Create the Mysql user
- Deal with all the permissions of files and folders
- Configure Systemd so that the node process starts on its own
It's a big level of commitment in making the installation process as painless as possible.
After getting it up and working I went hunting for a free theme.
Just like WordPress, most free themes are very basic and for Ghost you have the additional problem that some themes are a few major versions old.
I ended up finding some good ones though and I settled for uno-zen since I liked the layout.
Installing a theme is painless, you just drop the .zip into the admin panel.
If there's something wrong with it, it will tell you what exactly, down to the exact line of code. Some outdated themes still run, albeit with a few warnings, others give fatal errors. I imagine the situation for paid themes (which are actually quite cheap, most orbit in the ~$25 range) is far better.
Customization is very easy if you have experience in coding: what's not readily available in the admin panel (don't expect WordPress levels of UI complexity) is possible to edit directly in the code, by downloading the theme's .zip and re uploading it again with your changes.
Or, depending on your needs, you could get away with the "Code injection" option, which renders in the header or footer the HTML code you want: useful for simple style changes.
Ghost seems to be the sweet spot between a bare bones static site generator like the popular Jekyll and a full fledged WordPress installation.
It's easy to set up, simple to use and at the same time very customizable if you have the know-how.
The only remaining problem now is getting into the habit of blogging on a regular basis :-)