This site is about doing things at their most basic level. A focus on simple design that pays off. Be it in the way we live, design or the products we use, simplicity helps us get things done.

Blogging Tools

Remember when WordPress and MovableType had a limited feature set that essentially made them easier to use? Now it seems they are not sure if they wish to be used solely for blogging or for becoming a full-fledged CMS. This is the one thing I worry about competition and how it can make simple products difficult.

You would like to think that a simple, beautiful design that does it’s job should be the only deciding factor in who uses a product, but if WordPress has a feature that MT doesn’t have you are sure to move some people from MT to WordPress.

In contrast, Apple’s iPod hasn’t added any new features besides the ability to view photos and color so what makes it so different than other industries where products with the most features win?

I think the market is ripe still for another well-designed and easy to use blogging tool. One that focuses solely on putting words to a page. Something so simple it could only serve one purpose and that is to blog.

30 Responses to “Blogging Tools”

  1. Anthony Says:

    I’ve also been thinking this for a while with WordPress and it was a great example you used with Apple’s iPod. I think it illustrates that the powers that be at Apple trust the product enough to re frame from overloading it. Though they can only get that trust through intimate knowledge of their products and customers.

    In defense of companies that do overload a product, you would have to imagine that it would be much harder to say no to new features than saying yes.

  2. Scrivs Says:

    Well WordPress will continue to add features no matter what simply because of how it is developed, by community. Apple is fortunate enough (and smart enough) to allow other companies produce addons to the iPod instead of trying to implement those features themselves into the design (eg. FM Tuner).

    This is definitely going to be an issue 37signals will have to face very soon with Basecamp. Many users are demanding feature X, but adding more to the design takes away from what makes the application so special.

  3. oneafrikan Says:

    I’m not so sure guys - I think that the WP community is pretty dedicated to making and keeping WP a blogging tool. I think a lot of people are using it as a CMS, but it’s intended to be a blogging tool…

    My 0.02c

  4. Sam Says:

    I highly recommend Textpattern, they just released RC5 to the 1.0 and it has a fantastic feature set.

    Still a great blogging tool, but also has the capabilities of being a great CMS as well! (Whether thats what you are after or not is a different story!)

  5. David Says:

    I love where most blogging tools are at, and I can’t wait to see what they bring to the table next. I want them to continue to add new things to make my life easier and to expand the usefulness of the program.

  6. MarkB Says:

    I am by no means an expert on PHP or CMS’s but I’ve used them often enough to know what I like/love/enjoy using and personally, I find WP to have a fantastic product.

    Like oneafrikan said, its developed & supported by community and that does set it apart. The fact that like Apple, most of the extra’s for WP’s product have come from other people, happy users offering their own ideas and bringing their own creativity to the party.

    I use WP on my site as a blog app, but I’ve used it on other sites purely as a CMS system and after seeing its versatility first hand, I’ve become a follower & a believer in a great product.

    Looking forward to future developments.

  7. Zach Blume Says:

    Well, doesn’t a Blogging tool have to be a CMS in the end? I’ve never seen a blog without at least a about page. A blogging tool without some CMS capabilities is like the brain without the body.

    Plus, the capability is good to have in all cases. If you downplayed the CMS side cleverly, you could have a pure blogging software that could be a CMS. I think the problem with MovableType is that the admin interface needs to be better structured. I think Scrivs posted something about that on Whitespace at some point or other.

  8. elv Says:

    Some blogging tools are clearly dedicated to blogs, like Dotclear, which motto is “DotClear was done only for weblogs management, and does it well”. It’s developer always refused to add CMS like features, telling it’s a job for other better suited products.

  9. Zach Blume Says:

    “This is definitely going to be an issue 37signals will have to face very soon with Basecamp. Many users are demanding feature X, but adding more to the design takes away from what makes the application so special.” It will be quite interesting to see how that pans out, because in a way, they are the first to develop a web-app with a large user base. I suspect whatever they decide to do will become the norm for web-apps.

  10. Kyle Says:

    “I think the market is ripe still for another well-designed and easy to use blogging tool. One that focuses solely on putting words to a page. Something so simple it could only serve one purpose and that is to blog.”

    I haven’t played with it in awhile, but isn’t that what blogger essentially is?

    I’d second the use of Textpattern, which has a great feature set, though, I personally have just migrated to whiz-bang AJAX happy, built on RoR, Typo. It appears to maturing in a rather unguided, but quick fashion, and is growing in popularity quickly.

  11. Glen C. Says:

    All this from a site called Simpl(e)y Done? Well I guess you can deviate from the norm once in a while.

  12. Zach Blume Says:

    Nothing is simple in life, except this design :-p

  13. Nathan Smith Says:

    I would say that the ability to write/edit content without having to “rebuild” the site puts WordPress above MovableType in my book. I agree with what Sam said above about Textpattern, and think it has great potential as a CMS (though Chris J. Davis has certainly shown us that WP can serve that purpose as well).

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that community-driven tools such as WordPress and Textpattern win out over somewhat out-moded and money-driven systems like MovableType (though it too has a strong community).

  14. ramanan Says:

    I would second Textpattern as a pretty simple blogging tool. Bloxsom is also quite simple. Then there is blogger, which is probably as simple and straightforward as you can get.

  15. Ryan Brooks Says:

    Ugh. Personally, I’m not too fond of the new trend of calling Wordpress and the ilk a content management system - they are not CMS systems, not in the slightest. They are publishing systems. Becoming an actual CMS is a heck of a lot more work.

  16. dave Says:

    I think it’s important to have an appropriate tool for the job, i.e. hammer/nail, screwdriver/vodka but your needs can change. I think we’ll start seeing compatibility between platforms, so you can start keeping a simple blog on WordPress and move it Drupal if you need a more full featured cms. It should be simple though, no heavy database lifting and a similar interface, so you don’t have to relearn anything.

    Typo looks like a pretty trim client, although i haven’t played around with it yet.

  17. MahiX2 Says:

    I get the feeling many people get (overly) excited about the “idea” of simplification.

    Personally, if I can get another feature -that i may or may not ever use- without it hindering the performance of the quality critical features, I’m all for it.

    I’ll take customizability/expandability over simplicity any day.

    Apple proved it could create a great digital music player - better than anyone else many say - but because they are so obsessed with simplicity they may never produce that next iPod. No?

  18. Paul Michael Smith Says:

    I agree, I would rather use a combination of tools with each tool designed specifically for it’s job than I would use one tool that is trying to accomodate too many functions/roles.

    I prefer MovableType to WordPress for powering a blog, some might disagree but personally I find the templates for MT much easier than that of WordPress.

    I am in the process of writing a quicklinks/sidebar script in PHP to power sidebars, it will include things such as XFN, hCalender, hCard, etc. In the past I have used another “Weblog” within MT to manage the sidebar but it is messy and generally just overkill for the job.

    I think Apple, Google and Flickr have shown that if you focus on making sure that you provide a solution to a problem in a way that makes “user experience” paramount, you will not only be a lot more successful but you will be appriciated a lot more too.

  19. Andrew Says:

    If it ever gets released, Symphony is going to do a beautiful job adding new features without compromising its simplicity. They’ve allowed for pluggins (what they call campfire sevices) to be easily be added for almost any function. Even the ability to have comments is treated as a campfire service. It’s pretty slick.

  20. Says:

    Simple is Beautiful

    Scrivs remembers when WordPress has a limited set of feature that made it an easier tool for blogging. He thinks that WordPress (and also MovableType) are getting more complicated and becoming a full fledges CMS. He also thinks that creating simple pr…

  21. Shawn Says:

    A CMS requires some level of publishing workflow (editorial approval, etc.) Not saying that Wordpress isn’t starting to take on a more advanced interface - like others here though I caution calling these tools content management systems.

    I feel a tool like typo (not typo3) is a stab in the right direction:

    And someone else mentioned Blogger. They have always focused on doing that one task well, it is a good choice if you are looking for something simple. Commenting seems like a bit of kludge in their current system though.

  22. MarkB Says:

    I’m sure its the same with most CMS or Blogging tools but I love the fact that WP is so easy to SEO. A few php functions and one or two plugins and you have a site that has great SEO from header to footer.. Its great.

  23. Lee Says:

    I’m not sure WordPress (or any other blogging software) is a good example here. Sure, blogs may have been about writing articles, but they have since morphed and changed. Now we do so much online people want things included, like their photos from Flickr, their links fromd and so on and so forth. End users also want this to be easy.

    The trick is to provide these features, make them easy for everyone to use and, at the same time, allow people to choose whether to use them or not and not allow them to clutter up the UI.

    I think you’re right in that a lot of ‘blogging’ software is morphing into full CMS software, but it’s only responding to community demands and if it doesn’t respond people will go elsewhere. iPods still do the most important things: they play the music and make it easy to transfer files to and from. What else does it need to do? There isn’t any market pressure to add this and that, so they haven’t.

  24. Matt Says:

    I think the problem with Wordpress and MovableType is that they weren’t built for what people want from them now. Adding plugins exacerbates the complexity of these programs. Although I doubt a site will ever receive so much traffic as to truly bog down a website like a messageboard does.

  25. Fabian De Rango Says:

    The alternative I guess to this is to remove features and add them as plugins again. But I don’t think that will do much anyway. I use Textpattern aswell as Wordpress I find wordpress faster and easy only for blogging but Gee Textpattern can do anything you want it to.

  26. erik mallinson Says:

    The point here is not simplicity in function, but simplicity in appearance. Crack open an iPod and it won’t look simple at all. A user interface that does not bring every bell and whistle to your attention at the same time is more useful than something that has none.

  27. Matt Says:

    Our plugin system is analogous to iPod add-ons, I’m not worried about the program doing too much in the near future. Every release for the past 2 years has gotten smaller.

  28. N. Says:

    Hey, what happened to this site? I miss it.

  29. Scrivs Says:

    yeah I miss it as well.

  30. deus62 Says:

    Revive it! Revive it! Revive it!

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