At Human Code, we're always exploring new tools and technologies that can add immediate and tremendous value to our customers. Following up on our relaunch of our own website on Contentful, this month we are continuing to explore the world of modern content publishing tools and their potential application in building content-driven e-commerce experiences.
Ghost CMS was founded in 2013 as an open source content management system focused solely on professional publishing. Unlike Drupal and WordPress, which have really grown into frameworks for building complex web applications, Ghost's tenets and architecture are narrowly defined and built around the needs of professional bloggers and online magazines. Ghost can be extended, of course. But its goal is to be the most modern, future-forward content publishing platform on the market. And at that, it seems to be succeeding.
As an open source project, Ghost can be downloaded and installed for free. Digital Ocean is generally considered the easist place to self-host a Ghost instance, as they partner with the Ghost core development team. Or you can sign up for a fully-managed instance of Ghost Pro, starting at just $29/month.
Under the Hood: Ghost's Headless API
What's really exciting about Ghost is that it runs on a fully-headless content API, built with Node.js.
In other words, you can spin up Ghost as a complete content management solution, install one of these free (or paid) themes, and launch a blog — all in under 10 minutes. Or given its content API, you can simply use Ghost as a "headless CMS" to power highly customized content experiences, built with tools like Gatsby or Nuxt.
Admittedly, compared to other headless content management platforms such as Contentful, Ghost's feature set is somewhat limited. Unlike Contentful, for example, you can't extend Ghost's data model by pointing and clicking in an administrative interface to add fields or new content types. However, for simple content sites, those tools aren't always necessary. And for larger organizations, tools like Contentful can get quite expensive really fast as compared with Ghost, which can be hosted as a headless content management tool for large teams for just a few dollars per month.
Ghost for E-Commerce
As mentioned at the start of this blog post, we're interested in tools like Ghost for their potential to power content-driven e-commerce experiences. With Ghost, you can quickly and easily add gorgeous "Buy Now" product callouts to your pages, pulling data from platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce. In fact, Ghost has been designed to include out-of-the-box tools for doing so with Shopify. (See this tutorial.)
Using a tool like SnipCart, you can incorporate a complete e-commerce experience, including checkout, into your Ghost site without writing code.
Alternatively, you can leverage Ghost as a headless CMS to inject rich content into dedicated e-commerce websites, such as a Shopify or BigCommerce storefront. This takes some software development time, but for larger e-commerce sites, Ghost provides a great way to manage digital assets that can enhance a more traditional e-commerce experience.
Obviously, we're just touching the surface of what how you can use Ghost to drive commerce in this post. Give us a shout to learn more!