Earlier this year, when I first started writing consistency, I chose Squarespace as my first home. Its ease of use, simple interface and renowned customer support got my vote. I’m not a coder or designer, and I’m not shy to admit I’m really bad at tweaking around the simplest of codes. So, a platform like Squarespace is really ideal for me to customise certain aspect of the site to fit my needs and style. During my time there, I haven’t had a single issue. Support was responsive, site loaded up fast and there just wasn’t anything troubling me.
People that I follow, blogs that I read, they were leaving Squarespace…one by one. It’s seems strange to me, it’s definitely good enough for me. But good can be subjective. I don’t write for as wide a audience as Zero Distraction does. I don’t have the artistic pose of Smarterbits. I’m not a authority for technie stuffs like Curious Rat. In the list of blogs I follow, there’s still a considerable amount of Squarespace powered sites. I believe the exodus is not an indication of a lack of features or let down by the service, it has more to do with individual preference and the search for greener pasture.
The Hunt Begins
I thought of trying out Tumblr, lured by the hands-off approach of not having to worry about hosting and the backend issues. In addition, I like some of the minimistic themes available already. Besides the horror stories of the poor uptime, the closed system of Tumblr worries me more. I want control of my content, I want to be able to export it out freely and not be reliant on some third-party add-on. This could be less of an issue for bloggers who post things as they would to social media, the ever moving contents are linked and posted out freely. On the other hand of the spectrum, there are people who take time and effort to research and write a long form article. Such article is the blood and sweat of craftmanship, and the author would like to read through something they wrote with pride many years down the road. With such consideration, Tumblr is still an excellent platform to fill in the niche between blogging and tweeting, but at this moment it doesn’t fit into my values.
Statamic. This is definitely foreign to me. Someone linked to it, I got curious and checked it out. There were moments when I actually wanted to try it out. Deep down though, I know I probably couldn’t handle the technical aspects of the system. I don’t want frustration to set in. I want a platform for me to publish my articles, nothing more. Above everything else, ease of use occupies the top priority for me.
I source around for templates I could use. A simple, clean theme and focus on typography and content would be superb. Where better to find than from the highly respected design agency iA. I have been reading their blog, and the sound observation, analysis and findings of Oliver Reichenstein always provide me with valuable insights on design and information management. It’s only natural that I have a deep interest in the products they offer. The blog template is simple with ample whitespace for the readers’ eyes to rest upon. We mustn’t confuse whitespace with lack of design, and lack of design with simplicity. Judging with the increasingly number of sites that focuses on content and stripping away the redundant features, it is apparent the world is coming to grip with the concept of simplicity and embracing them with an open mind. The template runs on WordPress and since I’m going to self-host it, I need a new home.
I looked around for options, searched for alternatives and shortlisted a few that best balances affordability and quality. Choosing this is like having the least compromise. I went with Bluehost first. The first thing that irked me is the sluggish loading time. Playing around with cPanel option took 8-10 seconds for things to load after every click, and sometimes I wondered if I have actually clicked it or if there’s something wrong with my own net connection. I waited out a couple of days, tried it on different places using different devices, all returned the same result – the site is terribly unresponsive and slow. Their support crews were top notch though. They were responsive and quick to resolve any issues. If only if the actual performance of their hosting services could match their support peers.
My next stop – A Small Orange. The name itself is quirky, and it definitely stands out from the sea of saturated hosting business. Their website is like a representative of its name – cartoonish and vibrant. It’s miles different from the traditional type of hosting that is boring and serious. Fun and functional for a niche that is normally associated with stories of horror tales, who would have guessed that. They pride themselves in providing the best customer service experience for its customers and it shows in everything they do. It’s always customer-centric and it becomes a guiding principle in their way they conduct the business. What you pay is what you get. There’s a certain level of honesty in what they are advocating and this openness brings trust, a bond that can only be strengthened should the service standards be met. I’m only a few days into my plan with ASO, and so far I have been very impressed with them and it makes me a very happy oranger.
On a side note, the path to finding the right home triggers a few thoughts in me. First impression counts. If the site is unresponsive, sluggish, and buggy, it will be difficult to retain visitors long enough to read what’s on the page. Design matters. It comes as no surprise the authors I follow and the sites I read on a regular basis are mostly clean and simple, just right to the point. The design elements are all built around the content, allowing them to shine. No distracting decorations, no flashing banners. Everything is presented nicely in readable font that doesn’t require me to squirm my eyes to make out those barely rendered piece of sentences.
So, that sums up my adventure of sourcing a new home for Mintype. With a new home found, a clean template loaded, she’s ready to rock the world once again.