Trying out no-code tools

January 29, 2024 in Product design

If you’re anything like me, you’re always on the look out for the optimal setup. I want to find THE perfect calendar app. I’m always hunting for a solution that can track my finances without any issues. Discover a new, frictionless task management solution? I’ll download it in a heartbeat. Those of you long-time readers surely now that one of the itches that I keep coming back to is my website and email setup. For years I have run my blog and website on Gatsby which was great in many ways; fast, no monthly fee, and flexible. However, I have grown tired of constantly asking my developer for updates, or worse, making the updates myself only to break something else. After looking around, I began eyeing both Framer and Webflow after hearing how these no-code tools really simplified for creators like myself.

About 6 months ago I scratched my itch and moved my website over to Framer with the help of Aaron Rolston.

While I’ve generally been satisfied with my move to Framer - keep in mind Lighthouse still gives me great scores - there are a couple of things that I just can’t come to terms with:

  1. No RSS. They have a blog / CMS feature, but it doesn’t have any RSS functionality. As a strong proponent for the open web, this feels like a betrayal to not offer a RSS feed for my blog.

  2. Poor formatting options. While the CMS editor is pretty straight-forward and easy to use, it lacks standard functionality like block quotes. My blog is my commentary to things I read and see online, so the ability to easily include quotes is an important feature. I’m currently I’m using their code input feature for quotes - not great.

  3. No export option. I came across this as I was about to try different platforms. You can import posts from other tools as a .csv file, but there is literally no way to export the posts. Meaning, everything I add to Framer, I’ll have to manually copy-paste post by post if I ever decide to move to another tool or solution. This just feels… almost illegal? Keep in mind this is a tool created within the EU where the protection of our data/content/information is understood. While I want to give Framer time to improve on points 1 and 2, it also means that the longer I stay on, the more posts I’ll have to manually export. The longer I use Framer, the bigger the barrier is to leaving.

What’s next

While my portfolio is an important part of my website, it’s interesting to see that I actually only have one case study included in the top-20 pages over the last year. This means that clearly a majority of my users are visiting to read my blog. This puts me, and my digital identity, in a real pickle because while the blog brings in page views, the case studies are what pays the bills. Both are important, but the technical requirements to build a good case study is so much more basic than what makes a blog with all the expected features.

I’ve been eyeing Ghost for years since it feels like a great balance between having a web-based tool/CMS. I also find it interesting that Ghost is that it’s actually both a platform for my blog AND it can also host my newsletter. The two obviously feed into one another so it only makes sense that they would live within the same tool (not to mention it would save me $$$).

That said, there are things that’s making me hesitant about Ghost too:

  1. Theming is difficult. With Framer I can make all required visual changes myself, upload fonts, change colors, etc. There’s no editor to do any of this for Ghost meaning it’d be back to a code editor locally.

  2. Newsletter function doesn’t have it all. While it does have built-in newsletter functionality, it doesn’t have the option to send drip campaigns. I’d no longer be able to do things like when you sign up, you get a welcome email, then a week later you get another email with some popular links. It makes it harder to connect to the audience that wants to be connected with.

Importing of existing content hasn’t worked well so far.

What's Next? Maybe Ghost, Maybe Something Else

This whole adventure with tools is like trying on new shoes – some fit better than others and sometimes you just need a change. You know, it's funny how we chase after the 'perfect tool', expecting it to suddenly make everything easier, when it may introduce new obstacles. I've talked about this before in my piece, New Tools Don’t Equal Productivity, and yep, I'm still on that bandwagon. But let's be real, some tools do give us a boost – just look at how I mentioned Figma back in 2018!

Okay, here’s where you come in. I’m on the lookout for suggestions from YOU. Do you have a favorite tool that's perfect for blogging and sending newsletters? I want to hear about it! Seriously, any and all recommendations are welcome.

I'll keep you in the loop about my journey with Ghost or whatever tool I end up trying next. We're all in this digital world together, figuring out the best tools for our trade. Your experiences, your trials and errors – they're gold for someone like me, and probably for a lot of others too. Let’s crowdsource finding the next greatest tools that may just be flying under the radar!

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