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Jo Sabus

Creating a website from scratch can be intimidating- scary, even. It can be easy to get lost in or overwhelmed by the idea of coding a website from the ground-up. This is where a content management system comes in handy. The best content management systems, like WordPress, make this task a whole lot easier. They can take all of that website coding and turn it into an interface that’s easy for anyone to use. With CMS like WordPress and its competitors, you can make an entire site without ever having to touch a line of code.

However, opting for something that is oversimplified can also have disadvantages, which might be the case with Ghost, one of WordPress’s latest competitors. Ghost is a system that seeks the simplicity and minimal of popular site building tools to the blogging CMS market. Given their successful Kickstarter campaign, it’s a CMS with some serious competitive potential. But don’t buy in just yet. Ghost’s simplicity might seem appealing, but there are some CMS features that you should never go without. To get a better idea of what you could miss out on, let’s stack up 5 categories where WordPress and Ghost differ. Use the table of contents to jump to each section and compare features that are important to you.

Table of Contents

1. Ghost CMS vs WordPress CMS Basics: Ghost’s Features Lack Substance

wordpress vs ghost features

Ghost and WordPress have a lot of similar features, so let’s look at some of the distinctions.

The fact that these systems have overlapping functions and features is no coincidence. Ghost is a much newer software, developed as a competitor to WordPress. Both are open-source systems with free versions available for download directly to your site’s server. Both also feature their own plugin extension libraries. These plugins allow you to significantly expand the basic functionality of the system on your own terms. However, Ghost’s library pales in comparison to WordPress since WordPress is older and more ubiquitous.

Like WordPress, Ghost also prioritizes blogging features. In fact, Ghost was billed as the best dedicated blogging CMS in its early marketing. Features that they emphasize include dedicated posting tabs in the interface, word processors, and blog page-builders. Most WordPress and Ghost themes even have blogging pages ready-made for your site.

You can also use these features in conjunction with each other. There are tons of plugins which are ready-made to improve parts of your site, such as page builders or SEO trackers for your blog posts. Obviously, though, WordPress’s larger library provides a lot more of these. That’s ultimately how these systems differ from a practical standpoint: Ghost is streamlined while WordPress is flexible.

2. Utility of Ghost vs WordPress: Easier Isn’t Always Better

wordpress vs ghost easy


The minimalist nature of Ghost can severely limit your site.

Ghost’s entire goal is to be “WordPress made simple”. However, WordPress is already a fairly approachable system. When you opt to strip that down any further in a CMS, you start to lose useful features and functions. Plus, even Ghost’s equivalent features (like its plugin library) are far more limited than WordPress’. Ghost’s aforementioned word processor, for instance, uses Markdown in most versions as opposed to WordPress’ WYSIWYG processor. Basically, WordPress allows you to see your text posts’ appearance as you edit, whereas Ghost only allows you to see the code. It was not until recently that Ghost added WSYIWYG text editors. Even then, WordPress’ editor is far more developed.

Another example of this is Ghost’s theme selection. When a system has such a limited amount of themes, it keeps you from really developing your site’s voice to stand out from other blogs. The themes that Ghost offers also tend to look pretty simple and bare-bones. Even if you’re able to code your own themes, your options are still very limited since Ghost’s base code isn’t nearly as developed as WordPress.

Basically, Ghost can put together a simple blog very quickly. As such, it often leaves sites feeling dull and lifeless. Plus, Ghost wont actually save you that much time in the long run. A good site requires a certain time investment, no matter what system you use or how complex your site’s needs are. With a lackluster plugin library, Ghost also stifles your site’s potential for future growth and development. On the other hand, WordPress is an approachable system that nonetheless provides tons of flexibility for any site.

3. Support for Ghost vs WordPress: Ghost Lacks a Presence

wordpress vs ghost support

Ghost’s future (and its present) are uncertain.

One of the key differences between the two systems is their base codes. While CMS like these allow users to create a site without touching a line of code, it’s still important to understand some technical aspects. For instance, while both utilize widely supported coding languages (WordPress is built in PHP, Ghost in JavaScript), many servers cannot run Ghost. The reason for this is that Ghost’s runtime environment, node.js, doesn’t have support on a lot of servers. Without getting into the technical nitty-gritty, this just means that Ghost’s code can be executed by servers that don’t support node.js, and thus is functionally useless on them.

This is even more concerning when you consider that web hosts made specifically for hosting Ghost are extremely rare. In fact, the only hosting I know of that is specifically made for Ghost is the one sold by Ghost’s development team. By comparison, WordPress has tons of hosting options. Ultimately, better hosting options can make all the difference for your site in the long-run.

4. Ghost vs WordPress Performance: Better Hosting for a Healthier Site

wordpress vs ghost hosting

Your choice of web host can have a huge impact on your site.

When talking about Ghost’s coding infrastructure, I mentioned one huge drawback: hosting support. If you aren’t familiar with how hosting works, it might not seem like a big deal to you. Let me be clear, though: your should not make your choice in a web host lightly. So why is that? What does a web host even do for your site?

Practically, a web host provides server space for your site’s content. This is a bare necessity for running a site, and one with far-reaching effects. Since your web host owns the computers which store your data, it also means that they are in charge of site security, server maintenance, and, ultimately, your site’s reliability. Given the recent security breach of Ghost(Pro) services, one should be wary when considering their native hosting. Ghost also limits your independent hosting options. As mentioned before, not all servers support node.js, so some of the better independent hosting options might not be available to you.

WordPress, on the other hand, features a huge market of reliable hosting options. Many of these are dedicated solely to WordPress hosting. Plus, you can trust WordPress’ base code and dedicated hosts to keep your blog more secure than other CMS hosts. With the latest security and support features standard, WP Super Host is one of the best dedicated WordPress hosts for any sized site. Plus, it provides flexible pricing options- including custom pricing- so you only pay for what you need. Check out the WP Super Host pricing page to browse the best choices for WordPress site hosting.

5. Pricing for Ghost vs WordPress: Ghost’s Cost Should Spook You

wordpress vs ghost cost

Unlike WordPress hosting, hosting for other CMS can be needlessly expensive.

We’ve talked about Ghosts lack of substantial support for hosting, which means that your server options are limited. This means you might not be able to find features that you need or hosting within your price range. You might find servers that support Ghost, but there’s no guarantee they will be affordable or, at any price level, secure and reliable.

However, Ghost’s team does provide official hosting, but at a price. If you want the full features and guaranteed support you’ll have to scare up $29 a month for a CMS with far less functionality than WordPress. In addition, Ghost CMS caps page views even with its premium service and provides no higher-tiered options should you have the money. Basically, Ghost leaves you with very few options and even fewer features than a similarly-priced WordPress host.

Laying This Debate To Rest

wordpress vs ghost final

Your choice in a CMS often comes down to personal needs or budget. However, when it comes to WordPress vs Ghost, one clearly has the advantage. In essence, Ghost is minimalist to a fault. With WordPress already functioning as a lean, approachable CMS, there’s no real sense in a more streamlined equivalent.

At a certain point, when you simplify too much, you end up losing key features and flexibility. So invest in a CMS with some substance and longevity. Trust WordPress’ extensive features and approachable interface to take away the horror of building a site with a bad CMS.

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