Hosted content management: Contentful, Medium and WordPress.com

Using a hosted content management tool is an interesting option for many people and organisations who do not wish to have the trouble of maintaining their own environment.

Even with a free Open Source CMS there is always some maintenance required as was powerfully shown in 2016 with Mossack Fonseca exposing the risks of unmaintained Open Source CMS like WordPress and Drupal.

Three common options for hosted content management platforms are Contentful, Medium and WordPress.com. All are valid options when your key target is to publish content, not create and manage a web publishing platform.

One notable trend going into 2017 is the rise of Docker as a deployment option. With a suitable architecture the combo of a PHP CMS and Docker can be ran as a reliable service, fading out some of the advantages of a hosted language.

Contentful

Contentful is a content platform that only offers an interface and an API. It claims to be CMS without the bad parts and it does indeed take the chore of maintaining a content repository. If you're willing to do this, then there are Open Source alternatives to Contentful.

The Contentful user interface is better for handling quite large amounts of content and the content model is flexible. Contentful can be used for managing large numbers of content, but it does still leave you with the burden of creating your own site.

Contentful comes with a number of subscription plans.

Medium

Medium is a fully hosted content creation platform that really took off through 2015 as the preferred medium for many tech heads. It's a proprietary platform that provides everything from analytics to a community, topped with a quality mobile applications. 

Medium provides a very fluent content creation and editing experience. The options for layouts are limited and for power users or complex content structures it does not cut it. But for putting your thoughts out there, this is a great tool.

Medium is free for private use, but they offer publishers a carefree and robust platform for content publishing: https://publishers.medium.com

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is the hosted version of the Open Source WordPress content management tool. The revision I have been using is the version based on WordPress Calypso, a new contemporary shell built with buzzword technologies like React and Redux.

WordPress can be used for a number of things ranging from a blog to an eCommerce application. The hosted WordPress.com on the other hand is limited only to a number of functions and is spiritually closer to Medium rather than the Open Source brethen.

The shell is a pleasure to use, but for casual users WordPress.com lacks the polished fell that Medium has to it. And while it's running WordPress behind, you can't access the wealth of plugins.

Using WordPress.com is free, but they offer additional services like custom domains as well as premium services for companies.