Still Struggling with Platforms

Chase Raz

Chase Raz

Still Struggling with Platforms

Struggling with business tooling implementation is becoming the overarching experience of my professional life, quickly approaching a status as my personal bane. I'm going to start coming across as whiney if I'm not already... but stick with me, there's an important lesson in this situation.

For years, I've had difficulty with platform selections for most of my core mission-critical tasks in business. I've belabored website builders, financial software, design software, digital document tools... you name it.

I recently posted that I was finishing a current platform stack to be used on an indefinite basis. It felt great and I made major progress. But after having to walk away to address a teaching project, I found myself coming back to my platform stack very unhappy with several of the decisions I had made. Not because I made the wrong decision on paper, it's because the on paper possibilities weren't materializing in the real world.

For instance, here at, I was moving from Ghost to WordPress to avoid the large upfront cost related to hiring a theme developer. After spending just a few days back in WordPressland the theming complexities were much worse and just as expensive. I had been under the assumption that WordPress solved those age-old issues from the 00s, but I was incorrect in my understanding. By some of my estimates, the cost to go from "good enough" included themes to building a custom design for myself resulted in 5-10x the cost... on a recurring subscription basis that would never end! That's a large gap for a small branding improvement on one person's website. And the tooling WordPress promotes to offer membership features comparable to Ghost... it's just a complex spaghetti-like pile of the same tools that caused me to leave WordPress years ago. I fell for the newer and fancier landing page.

As an aside: I know WordPress is a major net positive for the web, and many people do very well with it. But that doesn't change the realities that I'm describing. It's not a tool for everything, not even when focused on its core origin story: blogging.

One of the best options on Ghost, or Wordpress, may have been to contract a theme designer and hand the project to them. Sure, there would have been a large upfront expense, and I'll probably do this in the future, but the resulting theme asset could have been used for years without additional licensing or royalty, as I'd own it. But even this seemed more in line with what I might do for a business venture rather than my own site. In a final effort to save my Return-to-WordPress blunder, I started trying themes available to me via my Envanto subscription. I should have started there... but it's too late. I'm once again disgusted by that spaghetti mess of tooling described before in what must be the third or fourth time since 2004.

No, it's not just me, and it's not just about a website. I talk to many business professionals and business owners who struggle with the same thing. They're in education, accounting, consulting, manufacturing, construction, and even public service... there are some good tools out there, but the vast majority seem to be mediocre at best, even in our modern age of code and no-code both being ubiquitous.

About half of the tools in the stack I've implemented are having some difficulty keeping up or doing the job they were selected to perform. Or, I've learned that the problem is me in some cases, and I simply can't commit the time, money, or other resources necessary to maintain the solution.

Better alternatives must be found in these situations. To guide myself in this time of correcting my naïvely selected platform stack, I'm relying on simplicity and minimalism. Simplicity leads me to evaluate the most basic tool that can get the job done. If I can mockup a business application in Excel, then I use Excel and shun the modern trend of a SaaS for everything, and three more just to connect them all! Minimalism leads me to look at what gets the job done in the cleanest way, a search for nothingness. Bells and whistles are nice but turning them off and focusing on the core purpose of the action being taken is often nicer.

I have hope for the future that software and computing continue to be more user friendly, especially with the rise of AI. I look forward to one day being able to simply instruct the computer on what I want to make happen and allowing it to work its magic. That would create amazing jobs in technology developing and maintaining those technologies, but also ease the burden that many businesses feel around the concept of business applications to support operations that don't have to eat the technology department's resources.

One day, we'll get there. For now, I'm making a pitstop and running on BlogHunch. I'm an early LTD investor in this tool, and very much impressed with how they were quickly able to build such a quality blogging and digital commerce product. They're not for everyone yet, and the team just disappeared for a quarter of a year for whatever reason... but the site still runs and at no additional cost to me at this time. Consider this an indefinite respite until a new direction can be charted by situation or business imperative.

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