Please Help Me Find a New Platform

I want to migrate my website to another platform. Ning has disappointed me by being a pain in the usability backside, and by announcing “exciting new changes” in the form of a 500% increase of their monthly price.

Can you help me find a new platform?

Here are the must-have requirements. I won’t consider a platform if it doesn’t have all of these features…

  1. A blog posts feature, allowing me to post articles to the website.
  2. A content pages feature, allowing me to create separate pages.
  3. A comments feature for both blog posts and pages.
  4. A free HTML text feature, that allows me to create page parts with HTML.
  5. A great HTML editor that doesn’t feel like it was built during that last ice age (like the one on Ning).
  6. Custom CSS so that I can design the site in the style I want.
  7. Modern look-and-feel of the platform. I don’t want clunky GUI controls that give me flashbacks to the 90’s.
  8. Good spam control!!
  9. Hosted in the cloud. I don’t want local a installation.
  10. Support for a custom domain, in this case

The next list contains the should-haves. If one or two features are lacking, that’s OK. But if too many are lacking, then don’t bother suggesting it to me.

  1. A moderation feature, which enables other people to submit articles (under their name!) and allows me to accept or reject (or edit!) them.
  2. A discussion/forum feature, allowing people to discuss various topics.
  3. A news feed feature, allowing me to publish one or more RSS feeds.
  4. An image upload feature in the HTML editor.
  5. A document upload/attachment feature, so that the site can host PDF’s and other documents.
  6. Good image positioning features, allowing me to place images to the left or right of a blog post/text. (Ning does this badly.)
  7. Integration with Google Analytics.
  8. Social network integration of the comments system with Twitter, Facebook, and others. (Not supported on Ning.)
  9. A membership feature, so that I know which people are interested in/contributors to the website.
  10. Login with Twitter and Facebook, so that people don’t have to register on my site.

And the last ones are the nice-to-haves. I know most system don’t have these. But hey, you can't stop me dreaming…

  1. A groups feature that allows me to create separate groups/pages for reviewers, etc.
  2. Built-in Facebook fanpage integration.
  3. Built-in LinkedIn group integration.
  4. Support for migration of content from Ning.
  5. Preferably, it shouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg.

Thanks for helping me choose!

p.s. I have a very interesting Amazon gift certificate available for you, if you have a really, really good suggestion for me!

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  • Flavius Stef

    I am not familiar with it, but the propaganda might suggest I think it satisfies most of the requests.

  • Me

    As stated above, I’d go with WordPress. It’s very, very customisable, many plugins and widgets. I’ve only started with it and am wondering why I didn’t use it earlier.

  • Jurgen Appelo does not allow plugins.
    And is not hosted (see must-have #9)
    So I doubt if that is an option.

  • Alek Davis

    Jurgen, to get better suggestions, you should probably express more clearly that you need: (a) hosting provider that (b) supports the features that you have listed for (c) your price range. Saying that you’re looking for a new platform is a bit ambiguous (platform can mean a whole bunch of different things).

  • Jurgen Appelo

    I don’t understand what you mean. Requirements 1 to 10 are all must-haves, and “hosted in the cloud” is among them. I don’t know how to make this more clear than it already is.
    But if anyone still wonders… Yes, I want it hosted. And the hosted version _must_ support the other requirements among the must-haves.

  • Alek Davis

    One more thing. I haven’t visited your site, so after reading this post I wasn’t sure what exactly you need: a blogging site with some additional features or something else. I suspect that people who are not users, will offer you suggestion based on their experience with something resembling the features that you described. For example, WordPress seems to meet many of your requirements. Sure, WordPress — I mean the .org version — does not offer hosting, but it does not mean that you can’t take the WordPress platform and host it somewhere.
    But whether you would want to do it depends on things that you have not mentioned, like would you (or someone else) be willing to take a software solution/platform (like WordPress) and adapt it for your needs. And the bigger questions is: whether it’s the type of platform you’re looking for. Since you seem to be satisfied with Ning (with exception of new price), I assume that you’re looking for a similar platform.
    Based on my quick search, Ning belongs to the DIY Social Network category. I don’t have experience in this area, but Gogle found a couple of alternatives to Ning: and
    Sorry for not being more helpful, but I hope that my comment makes you question a bit more clear, so people more familiar with DIY Social Networking can offer you better options.

  • Alek Davis

    Sorry, I posted a follow-up comment before I read your reply. Hope I made it more clear.

  • Alek Davis
  • Kevin E. Schlabach

    Hosted wordpress solutions are readily available… I have one with Network Solutions and have plugins.

  • Samuel Jack

    I was going to suggest Blogger, which I’ve been very happy with for hosting my site. It supports everything in your must-haves list (though you are limited to 10 content pages), and several of the things in your should-haves list, but as far as I know, it’s not really designed for collaborative publishing or social media integration.
    They’ve just recently launched an update to the site designer with support for custom CSS, etc (although we’ve had full control over the page template anyway, with a very powerful templating engine).
    I always use Windows Live Writer for composing my posts (which blogger fully supports). This has good control for positioning images within the post, and then handles the upload to the blog for you.

  • Barend

    I can suggest 2, WordPress (.org), finding a hosting provider that does this out of the box is fairly easy. I host mine with HostGator, and it was a 3-click installation.
    Alternatively, have you tried, doesn’t support all the features, but getting there.

  • Hetu Pandya

    try Kentico

  • Craig

    Alfresco does it all except hosting – BUT they are about to launch a cloud hosted version.

  • Mfloryan

    Nice MoSCoW style requirements but I was expecting something along the lines of prioritised backlog with some value attached to each feature as this would give us more indication and would allow you to evaluate the proposals 😉

  • Michael

    Posterous is good solution. They even have tool for migrating from Ning.
    However I in doubt about “hosting in the cloud”. And second problem that they have not plugins or something similar at all.
    Also they support only tags, categories does not exists.

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