Ghost on the iPad, a Review

• 6 min read

Ghost has been a wonderful change of pace for my writing and publishing online. That said, there are a few things I wish they could improve on.

Ghost on the iPad, a Review

Aside from moving Tablet Habit to a newsletter format, I also moved the entire website from WordPress hosting on EasyWP to Ghost. As an iOS user, I was worried Ghost would be an inferior product on the iPad and iPhone compared to the desktop. I am pleased to say my worry was for nothing.

I wanted to share my perspective on using Ghost on the iPad and how I think Ghost can improve this going forward.

Why I moved to Ghost

Before I get into the details I want to talk about why I moved to Ghost. I wanted a platform that was good at both being a blog and being a newsletter. There are services like Substack, but I tried it and knew it wasn’t for me. I explained what it was lacking previously if you want to know more.

Knowing that Substack was out for various reasons I was back to the drawing board. Ghost has always been something that I wanted to try and when they announced the addition of newsletters I knew that I needed to try it out. Turns out, Ghost had exactly what I was looking for.

What did I like about it? Well, let’s get into it.

Creative and Easy Themes

Over the years I have tinkered with all kinds of WordPress and other themes. Seriously, I have edited the CSS of so many themes I could start a collection.

If you go to any website that offers free or paid WordPress themes you will find tons of the same looking themes being sold. It is a two-column theme with a different font and perhaps a splash of color or a border. That’s it. Nothing fancy, nothing unique, and nothing that is polished. I was tired of WordPress themes so much I considered making my own. I looked more into it and realized that it was too far in the deep end for me to know what I was doing. Needless to say I had an idea of what I wanted and the WordPress themes available weren’t cutting it.

Once I made the switch to Ghost I worried it would be the same thing, but it turns out that the Ghost Theme Marketplace is rich with different kinds of themes that are unique and fresh. Things like a progress bar on an article, built-in membership support, and more makes Ghost themes better than WordPress themes by a mile.

Not to mention, Ghost has a fantastic guide on how to create and edit themes to make them your own. Thankfully, I am delighted with the Substation theme I bought, and the documentation for this theme made is dead simple for me to change and add things I wanted.

Ghost gets two thumbs up from the “designer” and “web-developer” in me.

Other Awesome features

Here are a few smaller features that I wanted to make a point in mentioning.

Built in Unsplash support

One thing that I thought was a nice touch was that you can use Unsplash directly in the web editor. If you aren't sure what Unsplash is, it is a place to get free images to use online.

All you need to do is click on the Unsplash logo and find an image to make the featured image in a post. A very handy tool if you want something generic but pleasing to the eye. I have used Unsplash before for featured images and will probably do it again over time. Having this be as simple as a click away makes my life easier and makes Ghost a delight to use.

Ulysses Support

Ghost was recently added in Ulysses as a publishing platform allowing users to use the top-notch editor for writing, like I am now as I write this, and send it straight to Ghost.

WordPress has this ability in Ulysses as well, but it was always an issue for me. From broken sign-in issues or XMLRPC problems that my hosting provider, EasyWP, never seemed to fix permanently. For Ghost, it just worked, and that is something that I applaud.

App integration

There are a ton of app integrations with Ghost either directly or by using Zapier. Sure, Zapier isn’t exclusive to Ghost but what sets it apart to me is that Ghost has already provided built zaps for users to try, taking the zap creation struggle many have out of the equation.

Here’s just a few of the apps Ghost provides integration with:

  • Discord
  • Zapier
  • Slack
  • Mailchimp
  • GitHub
  • Google AMP
  • Typeform
  • Patreon
  • Discourse
  • Ulysses
  • IA Writer
  • Backblaze
  • Gumroad

RSS Support

I mentioned this before, but one big caveat for me in making Tablet Habit a Newsletter again was that I wanted to have it still be a blog. I wanted to make it a Newsletter but also have the ability to point to someone my work later on with a simple URL instead of making them dig through archives in an email newsletter.

The only downside was that because of the theme my RSS feed changed. You can find the new RSS feed here if you want it.

Now, if people want, they can read articles I make public, rather than for members only, entirely in RSS.

The Ghost Experience on the iPad

Ghost is a wonderful tool for blogging and writing, but it isn’t perfect. That said, the problems I did run into can be addressed easily, and until then, they are minor and infrequent.

As far as using the iPad with Ghost, it is about as flawless as you can hope from a blogging platform. Sure, there are a number of things that are web apps that work fine on the iPad. The only difference is that Ghost seems to have more finesse and ability for iPad users compared to something like Squarespace or Wix.

Best Text Editor I Have Seen in Blogging

I have used the web editor just to try it out, and it is by far the most clean and functional eel editor I have seen.

If you were to compare Ghost to WordPress’ Gutenberg editor, Ghost would blow it out of the water. On paper, you would think they are very similar, but when I used Gutenberg on WordPress it would move the text editor off-screen when I would use it on my iPad. It would also just be a clunky and unhelpful mess when it would cooperate with me. Whereas Ghost was super easy to handle and simple to use. The Best part is that the only issue I have is I might have to scale down the editor in Safari to make everything fit nicely. A simple keyboard shortcut would fix that, and I can continue to worry more about the content of my writing instead of its livelihood in the editor.

Improvements

There are a few small improvements that I think would make this an even better platform for iPad users, and I hope they do this sooner rather than later.

Improve the web editor.

As I said before, the web editor has a few hiccups when using it. One being that sometimes the 11” iPad Pro I use as my main computer is just a tad too small for Ghost to work as a desktop client. I have to scroll left or right to show the sidebar in the rotor at times, which can be difficult at times.

I often find myself having to zoom in and out when using Ghost it can be frustrating when your only wish is to focus on the content.

If Ghost can either provide a Tablet mode or a better responsive web app this can make things better eventually.

Allow Ulysses Users More Control when Posting

As of right now it is not possible to mark an article “featured” nor is it possible to choose a member list to send posts to when publishing in Ulysses.

I will say before I get more into this that I am not certain if this is a Ghost problem or an Ulysses problem. Either way, I would love for one or both developers to fix this.

Because of these missing options I have to always go to the editor and add that data to my posts manually. Thankfully it isn’t hard, and takes minimal effort from me. On the other hand, if I could do these things in Ulysses as my main point of contact with Ghost I would be a pleased user. I am not going to make this an Ulysses review, but I will say using Ulysses makes nearly every text editor I have used seem unpolished and unrefined.

Conclusion

While Ghost doesn’t come out unscathed in my hands-on review, I will say that Ghost is absolutely worth the free trial if at all possible.

You can learn more about Ghost here, and their pricing here.


Photo by Ernest Ojeh on Unsplash
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