Integration or Third-party?

With Ghost’s strong emphasis on keeping the core as simple as possible, I’m asking myself the same question when it comes to all the plug-ins, services, and other utilities that one adds on to a website, particularly a Wordpress site. What does my website itself actually need to do?

In most cases the answer is (for me): serve content, or in other words work as a publishing platform. Whether one calls such a site a blog or a website isn’t terribly important.

But when blogging and business combine things get real complicated, real quick. In a Wordpress site you’d quickly add-in plug-ins and more feature-rich themes with support for e-commerce, fancy newsletter integrations, membership portals, backups, SEO, and other services. The lightweight blogging platform one started with is now a complex CMS with an increasingly confusing looking admin interface (some of the sites I’ve worked with…so many new sub-panels in WP Admin) and noticeably slower performance.

For some, particularly larger organizations, that may be worth it—they have the time and manpower to manage and optimize the site. Wonderful! For smaller teams and solo creators though, I wonder if it’s all a bit overkill?

##Service-sourcing

There are quite a few exceptional third-party service providers for just about any business or web related function. Need to sell individual items on your site? Gumroad is awesome, they even handle the downloads for digital items and support PWYW-style products. Need a full-featured e-commerce shop? Shopify is a potential solution. Combine services like those, with an app that enables connecting services, like Zapier (I’ve yet to try it, but it looks promising) enables one to weave together many services and automate them, all without adding further processing and management to your own website/blog (small Javascript and CSS additions aside).

Others?

Of the services and plug-ins that I can think of otherwise, the bulk of the ones that are specifically useful on Wordpress are those that enable easier (and more beautiful) content creation and management. Plug-ins like UberGrid are useful because they streamline and (optionally) automate a process that would otherwise require a degree of technical skill to create. Useful, but not unique to Wordpress or any CMS. Once Ghost matures further I expect similar apps will be created (or modified) to do all the fancy Javascript for it as well.

With the rest, it’s a choice between control and trust (of others). As someone who geeks out about new tech and tools it’s cool to have such direct control over everything to do with my site…but that’s beginning to waste time better spent elsewhere, not to mention sacrificing page speed and performance (yet another exciting reason for Ghost).

On the other side one has to sacrifice some of the ideals of keeping visitors on site, at all times, when using separate services. Plus these same services also tend to cost a bit more (often monthly), but I suspect the time saved in not managing everything can quickly eclipse the difference in costs.

As a solo creator I’m beginning to think making the switch towards external services is worth the cost. Less time managing and more time making, I’m all for that.

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