I’ve just checked out the Ghost 1.0 CMS. The upgrade from v. 0.11.9 happened last evening and since then I’ve been crawling through the new UI on the front- and back-ends. The back-end has always looked quite polished on Ghost but now it’s starting to look a bit sophisticated as well.

Upgrading to v. 1.0 was an interesting experience, at least for me, because for about nine years (before moving to Ghost earlier this year), I’d been blogging on WordPress. And like most of you know, WordPress has a shitload of controls for authors. Ghost’s raison d’être itself was that it would be a much more publishing-focused CMS that would do away with many of these controls, which had found place in WordPress because WordPress wanted to be the “CMS for all”.

So, whatever it was like to move from WordPress to Ghost the first time (on v. 0.11.9) was reflected in what it was like to go from Ghost 0.11.9 to 1.0, considering 1.0 was such a major upgrade for Ghost. It forced me to think about which aspects of the CMS I regularly used, which ones I prized, and how changes in their UI/UX affected the way I worked. Some quick points:

  • Casper 2.0.2 (the new default theme) looks and feels clean, although the homepage is too magaziney. I suspect this is because Ghost has been trying to woo journalists, and thus
    • Casper 2 imposes a display hierarchy on the homepage,
    • Forces the author to find/use images to go with each post,
    • Highlights the first para of each post, a.k.a. the lede (to avoid which I’ll be using an ‘x’ at the top of every post), and
    • Ghost has fetched the ‘excerpt’ field out of the advanced area in the post editor area and into the basic settings sidebar

    This makes me concerned about whether Ghost in the future will ditch bloggers and refashion itself as a journalism-centric platform. Let’s hope not, and also that theme modification controls (in the CMS) are in Ghost’s future. Favourite feature for the moment: the big body font-size on article display pages. Worst feature: the even bigger font-size for blockquotes.

  • I get into my groove when writing a piece faster if I’m using the right font. And WordPress really began to mess with the font in its WYSIWYG editor since about last year, when the font being used on the theme would be used within the editor, too. Usually, the font I find it easier to read with (Georgia) is not the font I find it easier to write with (sans-serif fonts). Ghost 0.11.9, I was glad to see, wasn’t trying to do any such thing. However, v 1.0 is: the front-end body font and the back-end Markdown preview font are both Georgia. (The Monaco font applied to the Markdown text is not really pleasing to the eyes.)
  • V. 1.0 is still buggy in some ways, which I suppose is to be expected. But I was disappointed that the upgrade happened while Ghost’s developers still haven’t fixed the subscriptions feature. I really don’t see what the point is in collecting emails nowif I’m not going to be allowed to start sending emails right away as well. This annoys me more so because, on v. 1.0, clicking the ‘Subscribe’ button on the homepage opens a full-screen subscription message + input field that blots out everything else. So much just to collect emails?
  • Earlier, when you published a post, then made some change and hit ‘Update’, it was a single click. Now it’s two clicks: clicking ‘Update’ and then clicking ‘Update’ again. And it’s three if you want to update and unpublish the piece at the same time, although I wonder how many writers want to do this. Is this also a journalism thing?

I hope the folks at Ghost bear in mind that many expect the exercise of blogging to have much less friction than publishing-as-a-journalist does. Ideally, publishing a good-looking blog post would be a four-step process: headline, body, tags, publish. I shouldn’t be penalised for not using images or not bothering with an excerpt. Sure, a developer might be able to fix all of the issues I’m talking about because Ghost is after all an open source product. But I’m not a developer – nor are many other Ghost users.

  • Kudos for
    • Not compromising on the ease of navigating the CMS (usually when a UI gets more options, it starts to turn into a maze)
    • Optional ‘night shift’ mode on the back-end was a nice touch – how about implementing it on the front-end as well?
    • Good idea listing recent posts with the same tag in the ‘related posts’ area at the end of each post

Featured image credit: Alexas_Fotos/pixabay.