The Best Platforms for Your Technical Blog
Are you considering starting your own technical blog but aren’t sure which platform to use? There are so many to choose from that it can be difficult to pull the trigger. I’ve rounded up some of my favorites platforms for running your technical blog and why you might choose each of them.
One of the most popular platforms out there would have to be Medium. People often choose it because of the built-in distribution that receives millions of unique monthly visitors. The more eyeballs on your blog, the better, right? Medium’s audience tends to skew towards articles relating to technology, startups, and all business topics, so that makes it very compelling for software engineering blogs.
Another positive that Medium presents is its Domain Authority (DA). DA gives us a statistical measure of how well your site will rank in search engines. Medium’s high DA means that you’ll be getting a lot of traffic when you backlink to your primary domain.
Not only is Medium easy to use, but they involve readers by allowing comments and “claps”. Basically, claps are a “like” on Facebook. Besides that, you can highlight passages to share and leave private notes for authors. Engaging with your audience is definitely easier on Medium than some of the others in this list.
Gatsby is a platform which prides itself on being an open source framework that’s blazing fast with easy search engine optimization. They strive to help developers build amazing apps and easy-to-use websites. Their framework is based on React which is typically already used to build websites and applications. Gatsby differs in that it’s a static PWA (Progressive Web App) that prefetches resources and only loads critical HTML and CSS data.
A static site generator (SSG) is great because there is no time wasted on server-side code. This means that Gatsby doesn’t have to deal with rendering when server requests are made because all of that is already done when the application is built. React will take point, then, and you will be left with a single-page application.
Something else to consider is that Gatsby uses GraphQL to manage data through its plugin ecosystem. If you use something like Netlify in conjunction with Gatsby, you can easily manage your content with the use of these plugins. Or, you can use their gatsby-image and gatsby-plugin-favicon to easily process and size your images. The biggest issue with Gatsby that users have that, due to not having a server, searching your site might be difficult. Learning to use it isn’t very intuitive so be ready to dedicate a good portion of your time to that.
Almost everyone that uses the internet has heard of WordPress. It’s so common to click on a blog article and see that familiar logo that many people immediately reach for WordPress when they decide to create their own blog. We can trust that it’s here for the long haul at this point. Something that can be a bit confusing is what the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org is and figuring out which one you’re supposed to be using.
Simply put, WordPress.org is where you’ll go if you’re hosting your own site with your own domain name, which I’d highly recommended. You’ll also be responsible for all backups and updates. You can use WordPress.com if you don’t want to deal with those intricacies and would rather just get started blogging as soon as possible. Both are viable options but you won’t be able to capture users as easily with WordPress.com and the free version is very limited. Also, if you want plugins, you’ll have to pay $300 per year for their Business Plan.
If you aren’t intimidated by HTML, CSS, Markdown, you might want to give Jekyll a shot. Jekyll doesn’t have a user-friendly back end like WordPress does, but if your writers are mostly developers, they may be very comfortable with editing markdown files in Github anyway. Because Jekyll also generates a static website, you’ll find that it’s fast and takes very little effort on your end to optimize.
Jekyll uses Liquid and gives you a blank slate when it comes to templates. There will be little built-in code, so you’ll have to rely on Jekyll’s plugins. You can also host it for free on GitHub Pages so your costs are basically nil. This means that you’ll never have to upgrade your site or lose your content because it automatically works with GitHub. It’ll all be backed up.
One of the best aspects of this platform is that it’s been out for a while. Because it’s one of the originals in the static site arena, there are plenty of fans out there creating free and paid themes. Themes are incredibly easy to install using the RubyGems plugin. Overall, it’s a great option to consider.
Yet another static site generator to consider is Hugo. It can go toe-to-toe with Jekyll and the two are generally compared against each other in reviews. The main advantage that you’ll find it has over any other SSG is its speed and thriving, active community. Another benefit is that it’s significantly easier to set up, especially when you compare it to Jekyll. As for content, it’s simply stored in text files within your project.
Hugo also supports a variety of formats, from Markdown to HTML or Asciidoc. Though it’s a bit of a newbie on the scene, there are still a variety of themes available thanks to its community of users. If you’re a beginner, you might find the template engine confusing. Also, there aren’t any extensions so you won’t have plugin support. Despite those issues, it’s still a very strong contender.
Ghost has been around for quite some time but it’s usually not first in line when bloggers choose a platform. You could be missing out on a great option, though. Ghost is written in Node.js and relies on a minimal user interface. If all you’re looking for is a simple blogging platform, this one might be for you. Ghost wasn’t created to power websites like the others on this list but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t suit your specific needs. In fact, many people give a lot of praise for their live blog previewing which makes editing your writing or code easier than ever.
Ghost requires web hosting or one of its paid plans. It uses Markdown, like many technical blogging platforms, and allows you to customize your themes to fit anything your heart desires. Some people may also love Ghost’s utilization of File Transfer Protocol (FTP) to upload content and themes. The biggest downside, besides only being able to use it purely for blogging, is that there isn’t a free hosted plan. But its simplicity is enticing.
All of these platforms have their pros and cons. It’s important to consider your specific needs when making your final decision. In the end, choosing one of these platforms for your next blog would be a wise choice.
Build a Blog that Software Developers Will Read
The Technical Content Manager’s Playbook is a collection of resources you can use to manage a high-quality, technical blog:
- A template for creating content briefs
- An Airtable publishing calendar
- A technical blogging style guide