Perhaps no open source software has earned as much fanfare as Ghost, a new blogging platform that some have touted as a potential major competitor to WordPress. Given the mega-popularity of WordPress and its incredible online pervasiveness, can Ghost live up to the hype and becomes a serious challenger to the status quo?
What is Ghost?
Ghost bills itself as “just a blogging platform.” The idea was conceived by former WordPress developer John O’Nolan, who believes WordPress has grown beyond its original intent as a blogging platform to become a full content management system. Ghost was developed to be a blogging platform only: no other use is intended.
What makes Ghost different?
By being dedicated solely to blogging, Ghost intends to carve a niche and become the best open source blog platform available. It’s in its infancy, to be sure, but the main differences many point out are:
- Ghost’s exclusive commitment to blogging
- A stat-driven and attractive dashboard
- Split screen blog entry, which allows users to see updates in real-time without having to click “preview” or refresh a screen
Accordingly, Ghost expects a slew of third-party developed themes and plugins to hit the market (much like WordPress); and, interestingly, the native software doesn’t include an HTML editor or a commenting system. The latter is the most striking difference, given that commenting is one of the features that helped propel WordPress to internet stardom and one of the key elements required for competing on the social web.
Will Ghost compete with WordPress?
Ghost makes a fine blogging platform for anyone who wants to launch a personal blog – and blog exclusively. I believe that with backers such as Microsoft and a famed Kickstarter campaign, there is plenty of interest for Ghost. Excellent usability will help the software endear itself to bloggers seeking simplicity and something that “just works.” However, I also believe Ghost will have a very difficult time competing with WordPress unless it’s willing to change its “just blogging” stance – which, of course, would fly in the face of its stated purpose to begin with. Here’s why:
- The web is already sold on WordPress, which powers millions of sites that owners have dedicated countless dollars in. Few will want to switch from systems they’re already familiar with and enjoy
- As Ghost becomes more popular, users will demand increased functionality. That’s exactly what happened with WordPress. If you want to monetize your blog, you’ll need an ad plugin – and now, your software is a blogging platform and an ad manager
- Even if Ghost doesn’t officially support plugins for ecommerce, blog monetization and other CMS-related functions, third-party developers will take advantage of the open source framework to set up their own resources for accessing said plugins
If Ghost indeed becomes a prominent new player in the blogosphere, it will either be very limited and thus a turnoff for many users or it will become very similar to the WordPress software it’s trying not to be. If the former, I’m confident Ghost will enjoy a healthy niche market, but it will never compete with the likes of WordPress; if the latter, it has an opportunity to become the next great CMS – which is exactly what its developers don’t want.
Ultimately, Ghost will have to survive in a limited market or it will be forced to conform to user demand.
Brian Morris writes for the PsPrint Design & Printing Blog. PsPrint is an online commercial printing company. Follow PsPrint on Twitter @PsPrint.