WordPress is a powerful and easy-to-use content management system. It started out as a simple blogging engine and in the years since has developed into a full-featured CMS capable of supporting almost any sort of site a business or solo webmaster might need — it’s also still very good for blogging.
However, as WordPress has become more capable, it’s also become more complex, in many ways more complex than a blogging engine needs to be. The trend over the last couple of years has been away from heavier database-dependent dynamic site generators and towards simpler blogging software. There are a number of different approaches to these lightweight blogging engines, each with advantages and disadvantages, largely depending on the sort of user you are.
I’m going to take a look at five of my favorite lightweight blogging applications, each of which is worthy of consideration if you’re looking for something that’s lighter on your hosting plan than WordPress.
WordPress is a dynamic site generator that uses PHP and database queries to build complex pages. Statamic keeps the PHP, but discards the database, instead relying on a flat filesystem for storage of files. Statamic is a modern content management system, with a focus on beautiful design, including in its elegant and intuitive control panel.
Unlike the other software we’re about to look at, Statamic is not purely a blogging engine, and is closer to a full-blown CMS without the overhead of a database.
Jekyll is at the other end of the spectrum to Statamic. Whereas Statamic is dynamic and uses PHP, Jekyll is a static site generator. In a nutshell, Jekyll takes a set of template pages and content written in Markdown, processes them, and spits out a website, which can then be uploaded to a server. Static sites are lightning fast.
If you want to give Jekyll a spin, there is an excellent tutorial to get you started.
Jekyll is best suited for those with a bit of web development experience, but if you want to use Jekyll without the learning curve, Octopressis a great solution. A framework build on top of Jekyll, Octopress takes care of templates, CSS, and scripts. It provides a responsive layout, support for social media, easy theming, and has numerous plugins available.
Anchor is another of the recent Markdown-based blogging engines, and it prides itself on its tiny footprint. Weighing in at less than 150kb, Anchor is small, lightweight, configurable, and very easy to use. Publishing is a simple matter of uploading a Markdown file.
For those of you who want lightweight blogging that’s super easy to use, Anchor CMS is an excellent choice.
Blogging doesn’t get much simpler than Dropplets. It takes around 30 seconds to install. Publishing involves a quick upload, after which Dropplets will process and format the post before publishing it. Dropplets itself is free, and it comes with a couple of great looking templates, but further templates, which can be accessed via the Dropplets interface, can be quite expensive when compared to competing blogging platforms (although they’re much less expensive than the average premium WordPress theme).
If you’re fed up with the unnecessary overhead that WordPress brings along, and you’re prepared to learn Markdown and some basic web development skills, any of these lightweight blogging engines makes a great foundation.
About Rachel Gillevet – Rachel is the technical writer for WiredTree, a leader in fully managed dedicated and vps hosting. Follow Rachel and WiredTree on Twitter, @wiredtree, Like them on Facebook and check out more of their articles on their web hosting blog, http://www.wiredtree.com/blog.
- 5 Modern WordPress Alternatives to Keep an Eye On (sixrevisions.com)
- Dropplets – The Markdown CMS (theindustry.cc)
- How to Get Dropplets CMS Up and Running (webdesign.tutsplus.com)
- Dropplets – Simplicity blogging System without a database (blogupstairs.com)
- 10 Open Source Blogging Platforms for Developers (sixrevisions.com)
- The updated big list of static website generators for your site, blog or wiki (iwantmyname.com)