What's the best (not the cheapest) "3.0" blog host/platform?
April 6, 2012 10:54 AM   Subscribe

I'm new to blogging, but have a lot of content ready to go for release over a few months, and I want to select a full-featured, highly configurable host/platform. Can you recommend one?

I'd like to be able to customize layout, but have nice templates to start from, have the ability to apply a lot of custom tags, have a search function, eventually have the ability to use some CGI graphics to link to certain parts of the site, have a lot of data available to with respect to traffic and comments, enable/disable/moderate commenting, with a commenting log-in process, have the ability to serve ads via Adsense, etc., etc., etc. Ideally, I'd be able to get some ethical SEO services through the same provider as well.

Long ago, I was decent with html and ran a little web host, but those days are long gone. I am a relatively quick learner but expect that there might be a steep learning curve with some of the modern tools. Am I asking too much? I am only starting my search, and some of my requirements sound like they might have to be customized, but it also seems possible that there are off-the-shelf solutions, perhaps costing more than the cheapest prices, which are going to offer a lot of what I'm looking for.
posted by iknowizbirfmark to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
WordPress should probably be the first platform you look at. It's very popular, easy to use and modify, and widely supported.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:57 AM on April 6, 2012


Some excelent theme templates here:


Dreamhost and Webfaction are both excellent hosts with one-click installs for WordPress. Dreamhost is a little more user friendly.

By the way, CGI graphics? Could you elaborate?
posted by humboldt32 at 11:04 AM on April 6, 2012

Thirding WordPress. Dreamhost has been good to me so far (avoid GoDaddy like the plague). Themeforest has great options as does Themefuse-- my most recent site uses one of their themes and the support is awesome (answers within hours, not days). One thing I like about their framework is that you can click a button and import a whole sample site, which makes customization easier-- rather than starting from a blank slate, you just change what you want, add your own content, and delete their sample content. Much easier to see how HTML changes affect various parts of the site. Fastest customization I've done so far (and I've done six different sites in WP). Use Google Analytics for traffic data (available as a WP plugin too). With WP, no matter what the theme you choose is missing in terms of your requirements, there is almost always a plugin that will add that functionality, including SEO.
posted by mireille at 11:37 AM on April 6, 2012

Response by poster: "By the way, CGI graphics? Could you elaborate?"

Sure, probably poorly, and in a way that will reflect my misunderstanding of how this stuff works! I meant a .cgi file that returns a certain link, not computer generated imagery.

Basically, one of my ideas is that I'd (eventually) like the user to be able to use the mouse to trace over letters in a graphic to find tags and then go to that link. Kind of a word scramble that would lead to a link, highlighting the letters of the link as you go. Obviously, I don't know exactly how or if that would work, but that's what I was thinking of. My rudimentary impression of that is that I would have to have someone create a .cgi file that would go to a certain link based on the mousing,
posted by iknowizbirfmark at 11:43 AM on April 6, 2012

Chiming in with the Wordpress! They offer a low-frill free-hosted version, which is good to get started on. Additionally you can bump it up to a more high-tech intricate version if you have your own host. I think it would be good to start on, as when you become comfortable, if you want to bump things up a notch, you can keep the same site (just change the host).
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 3:43 PM on April 6, 2012

Nthing Wordpress. A cautionary note, though -- moving a wordpress.com site to your own host (as Lt. Bunny W suggests) is not a one-click process. Before you go that route, check out the awesome Wordpress Codex so you'll know what you're in for.

If you're not familiar with doing that kind of thing, I'd recommend building the site where you want it to stay, which means getting your own hosting right away. I've used Dreamhost for lots of Wordpress projects, and it's definitely really user friendly. They also now offer CloudFlare as an easy add-on, which is an absolutely incredible new service that has a free plan that will greatly increase site performance, security, and has loads of other goodies.

I'll plug my personal favorite theme-builders here: RocketThemes and ElegantThemes. I think they both have a couple of free themes, but their paid themes are really awesome. RocketThemes are a bit better built, but ElegantThemes are really great too. Have fun!
posted by nosila at 4:10 PM on April 7, 2012

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