WordPress is the most popular blogging application in the world, and with good reason. It’s open source and has a great community of active developers, along with a huge ecosystem of themes and extensions. Sometimes though, WordPress is overkill. When it was first developed, WordPress was intended for deploying blogs, but over the years it has grown to become a fully featured content management system. With increased flexibility and functionality comes added complexity and, for people who just want to set up a simple blog, much of that complexity is unnecessary.
We’re going to take a look at three blogging platforms that you may have never heard of before, but should consider if you don’t need everything WordPress offers.
Concrete5 is the least simple of the options we’ll be looking at. Like WordPress, Concrete5 is an open source content management system, but it’s been designed from the ground-up to be simple to set up, maintain and publish posts. The major benefit of Concrete5 is in-place editing. When logged in, users with the right permissions can simply click on items that they want to edit in the page itself rather than having to go through a dashboard. Concrete5 does have a dashboard for administrative tasks, but most of the day-to-day editing can be done directly on the front end.
Habari is designed exclusively for blogging and focuses on the creation and publication of content in an elegant interface. Habari has many of the features that bloggers have come to expect including multiple user support, plugins, tagging and support for multiple database backends. However, it also has some very useful features for bloggers that many other platforms lack including a timeline for posts as well as direct integration with many of the media sources that bloggers commonly use like Flickr. It can also import content from WordPress.
Simvla is one of the blog platforms that arose in the wake of Dustin Curtis’ creation of theSvbtle blog network. Svbtle runs on its own bespoke software and has gained a reputation for beautiful design and an intuitive user interface. However, the Svbtle software is not open source and the blog network is only open to invited participants.
As you can imagine, this rubbed some developers the wrong way. Soon after Svbtle was launched, Nate Wienert produced and open sourced a clone called Obtvse. Development on Obtvse seems to have stalled, so we’re going to recommend you take a look at Simvla, which takes many of its design and user interface cues from Svbtle. If you’d like to give it a spin, you can get the project’s code on GitHub.
Static Site Generators
Simple static sites are very popular these days especially among tech bloggers. If you’ve got the coding chops, you should also consider static site generators like Jekyll or Octopress, which, although more complex to set up initially because they require some knowledge of HTML and CSS, will provide a blogging experience that’s all about no-frills, no-distraction content creation.