Postach.io Preview: Using Evernote As Your Website Platform
I’ve been trying out a new platform for this website, and if I like it, I’ll be moving more of my sites over. While I take it out for a spin, follow along. Maybe this will be your new website platform as well.
I’ve been using Wordpress as my CMS for about 15 years. It continues to be my platform of choice for most uses, despite the many options with what are meant to be more intuitive webpage building tools such as Squarespace, WIX, and others. Because it is a more open environment, I find it to be more flexible and powerful. If you know what you are doing, you can build what you really want rather than struggling to get the default tools to get you close to what you really wanted. Also, I’ve always just struggled to get the visual editors to do what I want them to do. Sometimes it’s just better to know where you content goes and just let it go there.
Let me back up for a second
If you’re new to the idea of creating a website or blog, and maybe just thinking about starting something new, I might have already lost you. Let me explain how websites work. You are reading this website on your Browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, etc.). A browser is an application that is created to interpret information it receives when it goes to a web address (URL - like https://biggreenapp.com) and display it for you as close as possible to the instructions found in that information. It’s like a phone call. Safari is your phone, and there is a computer on the other end that has files on it. Those files are your website. Now, in the early days of the web, a single page on a website was just a single file on that computer. If you wanted to add another page, you created another file and added a link in the first one to allow someone to follow it to the second. Technology has come a long way though. Today, most websites have a more developed system than the individual files. Rather than learning code, there is now an entire system in place that avoids the need to understand code, and instead presents a simple text editor for anyone to simply add what they want to say. This is a CMS or Content Management System. A CMS hosts the files like the old websites used to, but those files are more of the instructions on how to lay things out and how the website functions. Themes, plugins, and other add-ons usually sit there. The stuff you write, your content, sits on a separate database. The files on the computer (the web server) send instructions to fetch your data from the database then drops it into the structure and sends the complete code, with your content, to the browser where it’s all pieced together. You don’t have to be an amazing web developer to make something that is pretty feature-rich using these platforms, but selecting the right CMS for you may mostly involve finding the balance of your comfort and knowledge, willingness to learn, time for development, and particular demands for your site. Of course, if it’s a professional website you are after, I do recommend hiring a developer and designer almost regardless of the platform. You’ll save time and frustration and get a lot closer to what you actually want.
If what you are looking for is something simple like a blog or a basic website, and you’re alright with a website that could like similar to others out there, you can do it yourself, and reading this far hasn’t been a waste of your time.
Why I am trying something new
Really, it all comes down to money. I purchased a hosting account and my first domains on GoDaddy when I first picked up a book on HTML somewhere around 2004. I built a couple websites on my own and tried out a number of CMS environments in the first 5 years or so. I even started freelancing — building sites for others. Over the years, I’ve probably started and closed down a good 20 projects of my own, hosting them all on that same GoDaddy account. Marah has also developed her own web presence for her photography business at marahgrant.com. She has greater resource needs than most of my sites because of her traffic and the number of photos she shares on her blogs to follow up on her shoots. We’ve purchased more and more resources along the way, and we’ve started hitting the maximum limits of the most expensive personal hosting accounts. We’re already paying a good amount, but I’ve just not wanted to step up to pay for a business account, so I decided I need to free up space for her site and transition some of my projects elsewhere, and this was the easy first move.
Option 1: A New Personal Hosting Account
This would be the easiest option. I could just port my site to a new host and keep using Wordpress. It would also provide an excuse to begin moving over to my preferred host, Flywheel. I’d be happy to share why I prefer their services, if anyone would be interested. The only challenge here is that Flywheel doesn’t really just offer up space for you to host as many sites as you like / can fit. You pay per site. That’s hard for me because I have a handful, and I like spinning up new sites just to play and develop. So, before pulling the trigger, I thought I’d look around at other options. If you are looking for a solid place to host a Wordpress site, DEFINITELY consider Flywheel. It’s just easier, faster, and their support is fantastic. Particularly if you know you want a Wordpress site, but you don’t feel very comfortable with the process, use them. For my uses, I could just open another GoDaddy account for my sites, but I’m not crazy about GoDaddy these days, and I want to see what else is out there. I could also look at another hosting option that is more traditional like GoDaddy to give me the ability to manage files and host multiple sites. If I end up going this direction, I’m considering Linode. Pricing is fair and their reputation is really good with the ability to manage
Option 2: Squarespace
Of the visual builders out there, Squarespace is really the only option I would consider. It has strong features, the ability to "look under the hood" if you want to do some deeper development, great support and resources for website performance, and, in my opinion, a better editing experience. But Squarespace is also a bit pricey and I just don’t want to invest that much.
Option 3: Blog with Evernote
Yep. There’s a reason I’m writing about this on an Evernote site. As a twist on CMS environments, Postach.io uses your existing Evernote account as your database for your blog or website. I’ve played around with the free account for a couple years now while I waited to see if the company could hang on, but it’s been solid for what it was, so I decided I’d give the paid version a try.
The free account could be all you need if you are just looking for a simple blog. It’s easy, and the templates are decent enough to let you find a style that suites you. The limitations didn’t work for my needs, but I’d give it a shot if they don’t matter to you. With the free account, you can’t edit the template, you can’t have a custom domain, and integrations are a bit limited. The paid version is only $5 a month for up to 10 sites, so I thought it was time to give it a try.
Here we are
So, this is my website on Postach.io, and I have to say, "not bad." It’s still early days, but it’s doing the job for this site, at least. I love that I just blog and post directly from Evernote. I usually write my posts first in Evernote anyway. Just adding a tag to take it live is pretty great, plus my archive is synced with my live site, so if I need to make a correction, I only need to worry about it in one place, if I’m hoping to maintain Evernote as a reference.
I’ll be posting some of my customizations as I keep trying things out as a referent if you want to give Postach.io a try. Some will only apply to the paid version, but some will be helpful for others. For example, Evernote doesn’t allow for text-wrapping. That’s annoying. Notice though that I have text wrap going on on my about page. How did I do it? You’ll have to wait and see.
If you want to dip your toe into blogging and have an Evernote account, or want to start one up, I absolutely recommend giving Postach.io a try. I’ll be trying out some more intensive features in the future to determine if I think it’s a viable option for simple, standard websites as well. Stay tuned.