They’ve leaned pretty heavily into the membership system with this release. If that works for them and their users, I’m glad. It’s not really my thing, though. If I was using Ghost, I think I’d be a little put-off by its prominence in the dashboard, since it can’t be removed at all.
And that kind-of gets to the heart of one of the reasons I like WordPress so much — it really only does what you want it to and can be hacked and customized to accomplish your goals. Sure there are a lot of people that have bad experiences with bloated installs, but if you’re deliberate with the plugins you add, it’s not too difficult to keep it from getting out of hand.
I’m a little envious of the overall design of Ghost’s interface, though. The WordPress dashboard has remained mostly unchanged for years. It’s one aspect of the system that I’d like to see given a bit more development effort. Maybe when Gutenberg gets a bit more mature and established as a feature.
As a bit of an aside, Matt Birchler published a great video that goes over the features in this release.