Why Medium Still Isn’t A CMS Killer (Sadly)
As much as I absolutely love Medium (really), long term, I’m probably still shifting to a new platform
Recently, I published another hundred articles on Medium. I did so in the span of about six months. I think. That information isn’t easily available to me through the dashboard. This is part of the reason I’m thinking about leaving.
I’ve recently been on something of a posting spree here, jumping in to share some thoughts whenever I have them to offer. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that posting here has improved my online quality of life.
It offers speed and performance that my self-hosted Wordpress instance could only dream of. The UI is an absolute distraction-free pleasure to draft in.
Because it’s so fast, fluid and enjoyable, I can unburden myself of my ideas and thoughts and passions between doing the more humdrum client work that I do day-to-day. I love the social aspect, too. It’s a network. I can get to know other creators and they can get to know me. It’s fun.
Other milestones crossed: I was recently curated into one of Medium’s official technology publications, OneZero; I recently surpassed the 500 follower mark; and I’ve begun getting the odd piece of engagement through Medium’s recently launched newsletter feature.
It’s been fun. But I’m still not committed.
There are a few reasons why.
It’s Minimalist And Easy To Use. But It’s Lacking Some Very Basic CMS Functionalities.
Before I ever heard of Medium, I spent way too many years running blogs on Wordpress for myself and clients.
To a lesser extent, I’ve dug into Joomla, Drupal, and the long tail of self-hosted CMSs that come after them. I’d like to think that I know what’s out there in the world of open source self hosted CMS pretty well.
This is why I find it so disappointing that Medium lacks some really really basic functionalities that make CMSs so useful (and I mean this as respectfully as possible; there’s something slightly uncouth about criticizing Medium on Medium!)
At the time of writing (this is a very partial list):
- Medium lacks any bulk editing functionality whatsoever. When you have several hundred articles posted on the platform, it becomes impractical to apply bulk changes. Virtually any CMS — and certainly Wordpress — has this as a foundational feature.
- Medium lacks a plugin library to build upon its core functionality of publishing. What you see is what you get in terms of functionality and Medium rolls out changes and upgrades rather slowly. This is actually kind of a good thing. Wordpress’s plugin library is something of a mess. I kind of like the fact that Medium calls the shots in terms of what’s available for us. The problem is that those baked-in functionalities are rather limited.
- The stats dashboard lacks some really basic data points that makes it far less useful than it could be for content marketing. While I can see how many reads and views my writing have received over the past thirty days, there’s no easy way to see the bigger picture — what my one year trailing average has looked like or extrapolate into the future. Medium has done a great job at creating a minimalist UI. But I think it’s taken simplicity too far.
Here’s another glaring feature missing from the UI: there’s no way to search through your own posts!
Do you see a search bar? Because I don’t!
Its Backup Functionality Really Isn’t Up To Snuff. Which Is A Problem Because It’s SaaS.
As a backup fiend, backup-ability is one of the first things I look at before committing any major tranche of data to the cloud.
I’ve documented, previously, how to back up your Medium.com stories.
How to backup your articles from Medium — and one thing you should know!
I’ve been using Medium as a hosted blogging platform for the best part of 2 years now.
Unfortunately, it’s not really a great backup process. As very few other people seem to have noticed, the backup export you get out doesn’t include the images you’ve included with your stories. Rather, those are locked up in the CDN and you only get paths to them.
Medium Is Entirely Outside Of Your Control.
The biggest problem with relying on Medium to run your blog is that it’s an entirely owned platform that is fully controlled by a third party.
You get to control, to an extent, the fonts and colors you’d like to use with your profile. But that’s really about the extent of it.
Without a plugin library, there’s not much you can really “do” with your blog subdomained on Medium.com.
Medium is a fantastic online publishing platform.
It makes quickly publishing writing on the internet very easy.
At the same time, compared to even a minimalist CMS, it’s missing features. A lot of features. And really basic ones too.
I continue to recommend publishing on Medium for some uses. Particularly for brands that are just getting started. But I always attach the caveat that (this goes without saying!) you should take backups of everything you publish here. Never fully entrust data to a provider you have no control over.