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NUX: Setting Up Ghost Pro

I’m not giving up to Ghost quite yet, but it is an interesting experience.

NUX stands for “New User Experience” and I’ve been dabbling in it recently with WordPress, trying to understand where we fail for new users. My friend did a comparison for his company of other similar tools and told me that Ghost’s was the worst. I didn’t believe him, so I decided to check it out.

Ghost is a simple, powerful publishing platform. It’s dead simple. It’s basic. And it’s weirdly hard and complex. The code is simple, but much like WordPress, it’s hit the wall of explaining new concepts to people. Ghost Pro is their ‘managed hosting’ version, where you sign up and get a blog.

Of note, this is not talking about the self hosted Ghost application.

Registration Is Easy As Pie Registration Is Easy As Pie

This is easy. You go to the main page of Ghost.org, you pick a username and password, you press ‘test it out.’ That then asks if you want the download or to make a new site, and don’t worry about the credit cards yet. You get 14 days free. If you pick the new site, it asks for the site name, the URL you want (it’ll be something.ghost.io) and then…

Ghost prompting you for critical information about your site to be, like your name and your password?

It’s weird that it wants my name and password, and I do wonder if it’s making another account on the system. Do I now have a user account and a ‘network’ account?

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Writing A New Post Is A Lie Writing A New Post Is A Lie

Once you have your site, you’re dumped here:

Ghost's dashboard where it prompts you to make a new post

They even have an animated ‘Write A Post’ button there, which is great. Except it’s a lie. That link kicks you to the https://something.ghost.io/ghost/1/ page which is the ‘Hello World’ type post and you can edit it. Except you’re not told you can edit it. You’re just told your site is live.

First up, that “Write A Post” button should have been “Complete Setup”.

Second, when I do complete setup, I should have a nice popup to tell me “Your site is setup! This is your first post. You can edit it…”

There is a nice EDIT button, but that should have been animated too. That takes you to the editor, which is realtime and actually quite nice.

Ghost's Post Editor

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Continuing Setup Is A Five Continuing Setup Is A Five

If you go to https://ghost.org/setup, it will tell you there are five steps to setup.

  1. Create an Account (you’ve done that to get this far)
  2. Writing a post (you have to write a new one, not edit the existing one)
  3. Picking a Theme
  4. Add a domain
  5. Share your work

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Write A Post? Let’s Try. Write A Post? Let’s Try.

The setup is an editor only on the left, with a preview on the right. Fine. Click click type. Then I wanted to add an image, so I tried the old drag & drop from WordPress. Nope! Looking at the Help, I found this:

When adding images to your Ghost blog, you start by either pressing Ctrl+Shift+I or by typing in ![]() into your post editor. You will then see an image box show up on your markdown preview.

That was fairly easy to find, but then I got this:

Ghost wants me to link to an image, not upload it

It took me a moment to realize I could click on that to get the uploader interface. In fact, not until I hovered over and saw ‘No File Chosen’ did it register. The little link icon on the bottom left made sense, but there was nothing that told be “Click here and upload.”

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Scheduled Posts … Why? Scheduled Posts … Why?

I decided to try scheduling a post. Since by default the save button on the bottom right is ‘Save Draft’ and I knew by hovering that I could do a ‘Publish Now’ there, I assumed the little gear to the left was for extra things:

Ghost's Post Now buttons

And lo, it did show me a lot of options, that were just a bit too long for my 15″ monitor:

Ghost's Publishing Options

There I was able to pick a future date, but instead of changing to ‘Schedule Post’ the button remained ‘Publish Now’ which was rather disconcerting. Picking publish, it worked just as it was supposed to, though, so there’s that.

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Themes Don’t Fly Themes Don’t Fly

Time to pick a theme! From the getting started flow, I pressed the button for ‘Marketplace’ because I don’t need to watch a video, right?

Ghost, go to theme marketplace

That button takes you back to your Ghost dashboard. From there you have to click on the link at the top of the page for the Marketplace. Then you download the theme’s zip, go to the settings page for your blog, and upload the zip there. Very weird. Very odd.

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Overall? Not Yet. Overall? Not Yet.

I like it. It’s easy to write once you figure out a couple things, but the disjointed behavior of where you go to do things is confusing and a bit of a headache. For a brand new user who’s never have a website, it fails when you compare to WordPress.com except in the arena of posting content. It’s simple for that. It’s the management levels where it fails.