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Introducing Pika, a good-looking blogging service with a smart customisation system

Pika came out of beta three days ago, joining the likes of, Blot, Bear and among the choice of focused, independent blogging services. No excuses for not starting a blog these days.

I like Pika a lot, and not only for its minimal, going-with-the-grain design sensibilities.

The Pika home page uses few colours, interesting type and bold, underlined links.

This is good web design.

All these services take some sort of position on how to style your blog. Blot and offer full templating systems, simpler than WordPress but still requiring a fair degree of technical knowhow (although whether Hugo – the static site generator behind – is in fact simpler than WordPress is open to debate). At the other end of the scale is Pika, where you can choose from a handful of typefaces and colours, as well as style its out-of-the-box HTML and classes.

I find this non-technical approach to customisation more interesting – it’s similar to what I outlined when I was imagining a new blogging platform. Think of web browser reader modes, but with more options.

A set of font size, line height and colour controls above an article.

Vivaldi’s reader mode.

The more high quality settings you offer bloggers, the less they’ll feel the need to reach for templates. No-one cares that you can’t customise your Substack page, for example. It’ll be interesting to see how Pika develops non-code customising – it might differentiate it from other emerging blogging services.

Blogging is in a healthy state at the moment: if you’re looking to move from social media you have options beyond and Ghost. Ignore the handwringing over how difficult it is to set up your own website – there are services like Pika making it easy; it’s just getting the word out about them.

What I’d like to see is a self-hostable, Pika-like platform that outputs high-grade markup. It’s dispiriting that, just like Beluga, you can’t add alt text to Pika images. I mean, come on! But an easy-to-install blogging platform that generates quality HTML – stylable without code – would be perfect for the indieweb.