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Choosing the best blog software – WordPress is winning

By Yaro Starak
57 Comments

I’m fairly new to the blogosphere (the fact that I even know that term is scaring me) and I find myself becoming ever more alienated from normal society, and I love it! Slap that geek badge on me and I’ll wear it with pride. But seriously I am enjoying learning more every day about blogs, blog software, podcasts, and all the associated services and technology. I feel so very cutting edge whenever I explain all this to my less geeky friends.

MovableTypeLately I’ve been very frustrated with Movable Type, which is the blog content management system that runs my blog (you’re looking at it now if you aren’t syndicating this page). MovableType is good, but I’ve long been disappointed with the skin – the presentation layout that you see on the web based version of this site. Don’t get me wrong, it’s more than sufficient (which sums up MovableType in general, it’s sufficient, but hardly ideal) but doesn’t offer me much flexibility in terms of where I see this blog going in the future. Unless I get better educated with the MovableType software and learn how to use the templating system my options are very limited.

I’ve browsed around other blogs and seen plenty of really good MovableType type blog designs, so I know the system has the potential to look great, if you get busy with the templates. The options are there, I just don’t like the learning curve and have been reluctant to get inside MovableType to learn how to better use it. My HTML is great, I’ve been using it for many years now so I have no problems jumping in and making basic changes, adding new sidebar sections and playing around with content. However if I want to do anything complicated with the layout or really play with the CSS I hit a wall. It’s a damn frustrating wall.

Whenever this happens to me I face two options if I want to keep moving forward. I find someone that can do what I want for me, someone with the technical skills I don’t have, and pay them to do it, or I get stuck in and learn enough so that I can make the changes myself. Both options have expenses, financial or time costs.

I had been hearing a lot about another web-blog software package called WordPress. Word on the street was that WordPress was better than MovableType in so many ways, especially because the whole project is Open Source.

Key Term: Open Source – is a philosophy of software distribution that allows anyone to read and modify the program’s source code. Because anyone can modify the source code, bug fixes, improvements or implementation of new specific features occur rapidly.

Due to the open nature of WordPress a huge community of programmers have contributed to the growth and development of the software. There is also a Codex/Wiki which acts as the main documentation support for WordPress. How nice is that – open source community software supporting another open source software! This means that not only is the software itself benefiting from having an absolutely massive development team sorting out bugs and improving functionality but also extras such as plugins and themes (templates) are readily available. The whole not-for-profit vibe is just beautiful. People helping out just because they want to see the software be the best it can be. It’s all very warm and fuzzy.

WordPressIn the last few weeks I decided to give WordPress a shot and see what it was all about. Let me say, I am impressed. Very impressed. WordPress is smooth, so smooth. It’s as if everything I hated about MovableType was accounted for, improved and turned oh-so-simple. The WordPress interface is so much cleaner and easier to navigate that MovableType. The installation process is a breeze. The output is clean and crisp and the learning curve is much easier to come to grips with than what I went through with MovableType.

Why do I feel guilty writing this blog post in a MovableType blog? Anyway, moving on…

In a nutshell my favourite features of WordPress are:

The only gripe I initially had was that while the themes/templates system is easy to get your head around, it still is heavy laden with CSS and PHP so there was no way I could get in there and change much without breaking things. The default WordPress theme is nice enough, but I wanted more options.

Long ago I did some searching for MovableType themes and I came across a very lacklustre collection, nothing useable in my mind. This convinced me that if I wanted a more customised blog template I would have to get my hands dirty and make it myself. Recently I did some research into WordPress themes, and yet again, I came away with another reason to love WordPress. There are hundreds of themes out there and more are added each month.

This was the real clincher for me. WordPress themes (in most part) are professional, distinct and oh my gawd they are easy to install. I came across Alex King’s Theme Competition first, and made use of the Theme Browser which has a great collection of varied and unique themes. I can also recommend the Comprehensive list of 280+ WordPress themes from the How To Blog, er, blog by Emily Robbins. To install all you have to do is upload the theme to the appropriate folder on the server and it immediately becomes selectable as a presentation style in the WordPress GUI. Too easy!

So there you have it. My next blog will be a WordPress blog using a custom theme. It won’t be truly unique as others will use the theme as well, but certainly it will be more unique than the default MovableType template I currently use. WordPress in my mind will come to dominate the blog marketplace because of the sheer power and flexibility that the community behind it provides.

The only question left is, should I move this blog to a WordPress blog? What do you think?

Yaro Starak
Blogosphere Member #1248632

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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57 Comments

  • Hey Yaro, i had the same dilemma’s when i was starting out. Actually i am still an infant part time blogger, with 3 of them going at the moment. I use blogspot, well, because it’s easy.
    Most of the heavy hitters so to speak are using other platforms, but i am interested in knowing which way you go. U have been bloglined.
    Alvin

    • One of the essentials in blogging is the blogging software. The success of blogs is actually greatly influenced by the type of software that is used by the blogger. Today, there are a number of blogging software that offers different features and services. If you are just new in the world of blogging, choosing the best software to use might be a little taxing, most especially if you are clueless about any of these at all.

  • Hi Alvin,

    So how do you find running three blogs? Can you provide fresh content everyday for all of them?

    I imagine that could be a full time job almost.

    Yaro

  • Just so you know, Movable Type doesn’t require rebuilding, you can enable dynamic pages powered by PHP and Smarty templates. Movable Type has had SQL database support for years, and actually supports several different database engines, in case you’d ever like to switch.

    As far as creating designs goes, we find that most Movable Type users are comfortable with XHTML and CSS. Our templates are, by default, just standard HTML which you place the MT template tags into. This lets you generate pages without having to include scripting in the page.

    If you don’t want to reuse one of the many Movable Type templates on sites like MovableStyle.com, you can use tools like Adobe GoLive CS2 or Dreamweaver, which support Movable Type template tags right within the application, letting you visually lay out your page and then just output the templates you need to publish.

    Thre’s lots more that Movable Type offers that you probably won’t find in other tools. Whether it’s something as basic as running more than one blog, more advanced abilities like being able to publish PDF or Microsoft Word format files from within the application, or esoteric things like being able to run on a wide variety of web servers, operating systems, and database engines, there’s a lot of potential for Movable Type that you might not have explored yet. There’s also hundreds of plugins available, with many of the best ones highlighted in our plugin directory. A lot of the plugins available for other systems merely enable features which Movable Type has included in the core system for years.

    Finally, we’re always looking to improve. If there’s any specific feedback you can give about how Movable Type isn’t currently meeting your needs, or what you’d like to see in the future, we’d be glad to hear about it from you. Feel free to get in touch if you’ve got a few minutes to spare.

  • Hello Anil,

    Thank you for your lengthy reply. I was sneakily hoping that a professional movabletyper or even a Six Apart staff member might see this post and make a reply with a few good links and advice.

    I realise a lot of my gripes with MovableType are due to my lack of technical profficiency with the software. I remember seeing announcements about the possibility to update MT using dynamic pages.

    I guess when it comes down to it I haven’t really explored MT that much, however there is a reason. I can’t put my finger on it exactly but it just seems a hell of a lot easier to play with WordPress than MT.

    I’ve actually purchased the MT Bible help book which I was intending to read-up and learn from but I am not sure I will now because WordPress seems to be filling most of needs with a lot of ease. In particular the comments system seems to offer better options for dealing with SPAM and while I thank you for that link to the MT templates, they really don’t compare with the options available with WordPress themes. There are just so many very good themes out there.

    I definitely think MT is great software for all the reasons and more that you mentioned, but WordPress just seems more user friendly to me. Perhaps I’m at a slightly less skilled level than the “typical” MT user that understands XHTML and CSS better than I do (I have a basic understanding only) and that is why my needs are not being met. I just don’t understand how to make use of all the powerful features of MT and WP meets my basic needs better. So it could be all about positioning, I don’t know.

    Anyway I have not given up completely on MT especially since I bought that book, but as I said in my post, for a person in my position WP seems to be better equipped to meet my perhaps simple needs.

  • Max

    Hi Yaro,

    We are currently using B2Evolution at the Chronicles of Yabbyland.

    http://orystes.com/~swaive/blog/blogs/

    I find it pretty user-friendly. B2E is also open–sourced (under the GPL license). However, a lot of CSS hacking was still required to come up with something personalised.

    I have actually evaluated WordPress before deciding on B2E. WP is a very bare-bones system. The installation was very light. This means that a lot of hacking is also required to come up with a personalised page.

    My favourite designer online happens to use WordPress for his site, not only as a blog engine, but also as a CMS. Check out Jon Hick’s site. Jon designed the Firefox logo.

    http://www.hicksdesign.co.uk/

  • Max

    My mistake. Jon Hicks uses TextPattern not WordPress.

  • I have started bloging couple of months back. Since I have experience in PHP based web development, I was looking for a blog software that can be customized easily. After trying 10-15 mid and small sized software, I have finally selected wordpress because of its highly user-friendly interface, large plugin database, extensive collection of themes and good support.

    I am doing a multi blog project at this time and what I miss in WP is the ability to support multi blogs. Although there are workarounds and hacks available but that’s not as natural as doing multiblog in Drupal or Moveable Type.

  • Hi Kashif, have you tried the multi-user version of wordpress? I haven’t installed it as yet but I’m quite keen to try it out – http://mu.wordpress.org/

    Apparently the soon to be released wordpress.com service is based on this software.

  • Hi Yaro, I have looked into the multi-user version of wordpress but have found it difficult to configure, especially working with themes and smarty is a pain.

    I have also tried the Multiply hack and tweaked it a bit but it has its constraints. I faced problems while working with user permissions.

  • Hello Yaro

    You should give CSS a try – really it’s actually quite easy – I learnt the basics in about a week. And it gives you so much flexibility with the look of your website. Check out this guy:

    http://www.cssplay.co.uk

    for what you could achieve. And if you want to learn then check out this site:

    http://www.w3schools.com

    simple, example heavy tutorials for free.

    Especially given that you can do HTML, you shouldn’t find CSS to hard at all.

    Anyway – good luck – your article has convinced me to go for WordPress!

  • Goutham

    First i Started using blogspot.Then i thought movable type will be better.I used it for a year.Now Im using WordPress.I think WordPress is the best.

  • what about blogger. any comments. nice read though.

  • I want to add Blog to my website and wonder any
    suggestion advice what softwate to use
    my website is http://www.jobklub.com

  • Yaro,

    Thanks so much for your article. I’m new to blogging and I went with the free hosting from Word Press. It did take me a little while to figure things out, but I didn’t have too much trouble setting up my site.

    I did notice that I couldn’t find my blog on the internet until after I published my first blog. I haven’t received any comments back yet, so I can’t really judge how well search engines do with finding my blog.

    Although the free Word Press does offer a variety of well designed templates, I am a little frustrated that you don’t have more control over customizing the templates, unless you pay extra.

    I don’t know HTML or CSS and like you I think that they both have a steep learning curve. Does anyone know of a good WYSIWYG software program for building a blog site?

    • Joomla is another alternative but for that special touch, yes you can w3c schools learn css, php and bounce your head off a wall as you need it today and just cant get to grips with it instantly, but I would suggest artisteer. It’s a great template designer, works for WP and joomla et al and allows you to flex your creative muscle… Hope this helps. Oh, and you can try it for free.

  • Hi Yaro, this article was written a while ago (2005). Do you still prefer WordPress to other blog software? The reason I ask is because I used to be a huge WordPress fan until one time I got bitten by its security holes, started to read about it and it turns out that it has really bad security issues many of which have no remedy. So I was wondering what you think about that and may be you have found a better alternative.

  • I personally use WP, simply because of the amount of plugins, though I must say…WP is really really expensive in terms of memory usage , you need pretty good hardware to support that.
    Check out this comparison of other blogging platform.
    http://tablefy.com/compare/545/Free-Blog-Software

  • Curtis

    What do you think of using Windows Live Writer for blogging to other places besides MSN.spaces.com?

    • Not a fan of MSN spaces for serious blogging. Fine for a hobby site, but I wouldn’t touch it for business purposes.

      I have not used Windows Live Writer so I can’t comment on that one sorry.

  • I have just made the transition from Blogger to WP for my monetized site. I can’t even do html (yet) so I am finding it pretty frustrating. That being said, I see the potential for configurability so it makes sense to switch and start learning.

    Blogger sure is easy though, I will keep that for my hobby site!

  • Derek Hills

    Yaro, This article is over three years old. How about an update to reflect progress between then and now?

  • Samuel

    Damn ! ran out of patience.
    I was bulding a simple blog for my 3 yr. old daughter and used a all in one plugin….two times it crashed…whole hard work gone…I could not find courage to attempt more.
    My req. was simple…to have a gallery and upload of videos.

    I am finding myself not having enough courage to use WP and after sometime..lost all my hardwork.

  • So right. The WordPress platform, especially now, is head and shoulders above the competition. Mainly because of the ease of use and all the options there are.

  • Do you still feel the wordpress is winning? I’m considering moving to a new platform (from blogger) for my current blog. Current lack of features combined with weird problems with comments not working and other issues have driven me away. Before I jump ship, I’m looking for feedback from long-time bloggers such as yourself.

  • I know what you mean about wordpress, I am currently in the process of setting up a blog as our company doesn’t have one – but I don’t like the ‘structured’ feel of a blog skin (if that makes sense).

    Anyway I have registered with WOrdpress, if I use it remains to be seen!

  • Wilson

    I have realized the need to retool and realize the utility of blogging. I have basic html understanding and my yahoo template website is not doing me justice. I want to use wordpress or moveable type to set up my blog and pray that one of you – brethren and sistren – will reach out to a newbie, help me feel welcome, and help me move toward seting up my blog. I’ve never tried this online outreach thing and hope ie will be memorable, productive and worth recommending to the next person. Each one teach one. TEACH ME!!! Thanks in advance.

  • Yaro,

    It’s nearly 4 years ago since you wrote this article, and I am just at the point where I am feeling new to all this, but am really glad I have chosen WordPress as my tool of choice.

    I don’t think I saw WordPress 4 years ago, maybe about 2 years ago for the first time, but it’s only recently I’ve started using it properly myself and for others. The latest version (2.7.1) is fantastic and with version 2.8 just around the corner it looks like things can only get better for WordPress.

    Just the fact that it’s still here and going from strength to strength is a great testimony in itself, and I am even trying to build my whole business around WordPress as I love it soo much.

  • Hey nice post, I have been thinking I am going to change my site to wordpress as it started as just a hobby but has since evolved into a blog style site anyway I will install wordpress tomorrow and start working on a template for it.
    I am finding it hard to change it though as it was all hand coded by myself and took a little learning to get it to look the way I wanted. I feel as if it was apart of me lol.
    Well in the interest of evolving the site I guess its a must.
    http://www.terryscarr.com

  • Nice post. To answer your last question – yes you can move to WP without any hesitation. At spunkjunks we also use WP and it is fantastic. Specially because of the many plugins available to WP.

  • How often are upgrades required?

  • I suppose you’ve already changed over to WP long time ago now. WP is definately the best. No one over, no one beside.

  • There is no big advantage in using whatever blog format you want to use. I like WP just because its easy to use and easily customize.

  • The problem I found with WordPress after a couple years or more, is that with the almost continual updates, if you aren’t very computer literate, you will more than likely have the blog crash, or at least have enough of it stop working so that it has to be completely redone.

    This is in no way a problem if a person is computer literate, but for a hobby blog, such as the one’s I had, the updates can be a problem even with the automatic upgrade system.

    I did find it quite easy to use and might use it again, but with the upgrades and the effects on the plugins and things that can happen, I don’t know that it is worth it for the novice.

    Right now I am so discouraged, I might not even put up a new blog.

  • Hi Yaro

    I have build my site based on your recommendation for wordpress 2.6.4 . Is there a security threat to it? Do I have to upgrade it to the latest version 2.8.4? If so is there any way you can help do this through your video?

  • Yes, wordpress is the best. The many amount of plugins and flexibility wins. It is the best content management system.

    Cheers,
    Volksphone!

  • I agree with u
    For me as a beginner, wordpress is the best
    First can be used offline (without internet connection) by using a local server computer that is often called localhost, so i can try anything i want,WP has easy posting management regulated .
    There are many themes and plugins for free, although some were paid.
    I Can change according to his own theme of our desire,m ake a backup of data very easily and supports multiple languages.
    It’s easy to find and install plugin or theme directly through dashboard so no need to go through FTP anymore, easy to optimize that can quickly indexed by search engines,Plugins available for free to support the process of optimization (SEO)
    I can insert multimedia such as videos, pictures, etc easily.

    Regards,

    Mets

  • I am also a WordPress user and I am in love with my blogging tool. It was good when I was a beginner and it’s even better now that I know how to write plugins and customize themes. My first blog was created with Blogger and I was able to migrate all of my old posts and comments into my new WordPress blog.

  • SEO

    I have looked into the multi-user version of wordpress but have found it difficult to configure, especially working with themes and smarty is a pain. I have also tried the Multiply hack and tweaked it a bit but it has its constraints. I faced problems while working with user permissions.

  • I have also been looking at wordpress. I have been using vbulletin’s blog software which is good for offering a blog for the website’s community – but I have been looking for something with more flexibilty that integrates better with my base web site ( http://www.selfhelpdogtraining.com ).

    Thanks for the post!

  • I must say when I first typed the words in to Google what is the best blog software and hit enter I was amazed to see how many blogging sites were out there on the internet. That was three years ago. I have about three blogs and I am about to start a new one blog it will all about information on directories submission listing tips and much more! Has anybody got any suggestions on blogging software. At the moment I use over blog it is French site and I must say it is very good. So I would love to hear from you with your comments.

  • I have been using WordPress for 2 years now and it seems to work well. I am frustrated at times with the quirks after upgrading the software and when reactivating plugins that may not any longer work correctly or mess something else go haywire. But this is few and far between.

  • Hey Yaro! this is a really brilliant post! I am currently using WordPress. However, I need something better to suit my blog theme, any suggestions?

  • Ron

    Hi Yaro. I’m with you and are where you where when this post was first written in 2005. Well I suppose age being the big difference :-) I love WordPress and wish to be half a successful as yourself some day. Great reading as always.

    • I have been using WordPress for years and currently run about a dozen blogs. Some have become too large to suit my hosting and I have to move them to a new account. This is where WordPress seems to fail.

      Large databases will not export, using the standards “Tools”, “Export” function. In PHPmyAdmin, it also fails at exporting when the database is large … or at least this is my experience.

      I have successfully exported several smaller blogs, but large ones, just don’t work. I have scoured their support forum but have yet to find an answer, or be provided with a solution … nothing seems to work, even the support recommended procedures.

      I can’t even get a backup of the larger sites.

      I’m in a position now of having the past five years of work lost, and starting all over, because I can’t export, backup or move my WordPress blogs.

      So, here is a question … how is Movable Type for backing up and reinstalling … moving … to another server?

      Anyone have other ideas for this type of situation? I very anxious to get past this WordPress export dilemma.

      –Robert

  • Hi yaro….

    hey..i have been using the multiuser version of wordpress….its like….so easy…like to teach a boy..to fix it up…not big issues…like one click and all the coding is changed in cms..to provide that service….it so cool.

  • WordPress.org ROCKS!
    It’s amazing jow a post that you worte in 2005 can still generate value, isn’it?

    Francesco

  • Go with the WordPress. WordPress also has a “pretty url” option in settings, so the SEO will be the same, if not better thanks to valid (x)html that wordpress uses. And for the sake of your sanity, i really suggest you do stop using this crap artist and move on to wordpress ;)

  • groovy article! Thanks for providing! Im a huge devotee of games and like playing and victory! My favourite game is bmtron it’s supported on the movie Tron. bm tron snakes is wicked and loads of fun! Check it out instantly!

  • Hey Yaro,
    you seem to have a a good feeling when it comes to such stuff. Nowadays everyone is using wordpress, but I bet back in 2005 when you wrote the article (god, I was so young back then!) not many people were using it and it was a lot less popular probably.
    What do you think about joomla compared to wordpress in today’s versions?

    Sebastian

    • I’ve not used Joomla myself, but my friends rave about it. It’s overkill for just a blog though.

  • Yea, wordpress is a good platform to work with especially when you’re blogging. You can get clean html templates too . I love wordpress.

  • WordPress is indeed a great blogging platform But if you like to control things in your own way, I suggest go for a Custom Content Management System.

  • what a nice post.

    Thanks
    Misbah Mumtaz

  • Anthony Pease

    i work with wordpress, godaddy and mono ads, on my little blog site, i wonder what other blog software is good, interesting post

  • I have been using WordPress now for two years. I have it on all of my 25+ sites. It is the best!

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