Tuesday, May 4, 2010

First!

So I feel that it's fitting that my first post be about the eternal struggle between blogspot and wordpress. While my decision, if you're reading this, is probably obvious, I feel that it's worth saving anyone else considering treading these roads some time. So, without further adieu, the fruits of the better part of two days worth of HRGBLURGWORKDAMNIT:

I went with wordpress first, because for whatever reason, it held a more prestigious place in my mind, and it happened to have the url that I wanted, and I had already perused some of the themes on their website when I first started thinking about making a blog. So I figured, hey, I remember liking some of those, why not! So I made an account, snagged the url, and started to go through their set up your shit tutorial, which was nice. The interface is terribly swish, by which I mean it's all smooth and rounded and fancy looking, but after about 15 minutes I wanted to smash it on the ground - which, I will emphasize, is one of the instances that my frustration had NOTHING to do with my lack of html/java/web savvy, but instead had everything to do with the fact that, despite being pretty, wordpress's layout is really counter intuitive. It took me almost ten minutes to figure out how to reset my password, because there are many multiple pages which sound like "settings" or "preferences" or "hrugflurgmyfriggingpassword" but which deal with numerous other things tumbling in stacks of buttons all the way down down down the left side of the page. Many of these pages also have false bottoms, where it looks like the page should end there, but then there's a liiittle bit more underneath it. Like my password. Which was dumb of me not to notice, but it didn't save me looking in like five other places first.

And though that was all frustrating, certainly with enough time to get used to the interface, it probably wouldn't be an issue. Unfortunately, it also isn't my only qualm with the system. While, at a first glance, wordpress has more templates in their startup, and a metric gazillion on http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/ what you don't find out until after you've made the blog is that you can't use any of the non-basic themes (or design your own) without either hosting your blog on your own domain, or paying an annual fee.

The CSS editor lets you modify the visual style of your blog. You can edit your CSS and preview the changes for free. If you would like the ability to save your changes and make your design visible to the public, please purchase the Custom CSS Upgrade.


Sounds like a trap for people who feel like spending all day designing their fantastic new blog layout without reading the little paragraph at the top and then trying to submit it and having their heads explode. Thankfully, I'm a reader, and when I saw that - and subsequently decided that I wasn't all that fond of any of the 90 basic templates anyway, I hopped over to blogspot to see what I could do there.

Blogspot only has 16 basic site layouts (most of which have multiple color schemes), and I didn't find any on their website, but http://btemplates.com/ has exactly the same number (and, likely, exactly the same) layouts as wordpress does, formatted for blogspot and... the clincher, totally free. I hate to sound like an ad, but I have to finish the sentence with - and surprisingly easy to use. Which brings me to the interface. While I spent my whole time on wordpress fighting with the UI, blogspot hits me with this fantastically old school interface - it's boxier and anti-swish, but it's extremely intuitive. All the interface is at the top of the page, simply and clearly divided into four tabs with sub headers with link titles that clearly indicate what they're linking to. It takes about three clicks to upload a new template, and you can save all of the changes you make to the basic template as your own one, just in case you manage to horribly screw everything up and need to go back, but don't want to lose your work. Both blogspot and wordpress have ways to simply add content to your blog, and the interfaces there are roughly the same, but blogspot also has a cardbord cutout version of your website layout, where you can add and alter features drag-and-drop style. Also, when you're on your blog itself, there are edit buttons for your widget and html boxes, so if something's wrong or needs updating, you can do it right there. Though, admittedly, I'm not sure if I like it or not yet - it's very convenient for the building phase, but looks a little clunky. Perhaps I'll find a way to turn it off? One last thing I like about blogspot - when they talk about ads, they talk about it in terms of making money for the blogger, not forcing the blogger to pay, like wordpress.

For the negs, I'm having trouble figuring out how to add links within the blog (ie. shaples.blogspot.com/about) (Just kidding, it was right in front of my face), and some of the basic widgets that they offer (like the twitter one) didn't seem to work until I got them from the third party sites. Though, that said, both twitter and facebook have blogspot-specific functionality, which wordpress does not, though zomg, you'd think facebook wasn't trying to take over the world for how long it took me just to get the stupid like and share buttons working. Yeesh. Wordpress has an email subscription feature in addition to the RSS, which I like, and has a huge website statistics box front and center on the dashboard, and blogspot doesn't seem to have either - which I think encapsulates the difference. Wordpress has a lot of built in functionality on their http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=7841692274072922644website, and you have to pay to get it - with blogspot, you have to do a little more footwork, but it's free.

Oh, and it's harder to get back to your editing page from your main blog page on blogspot, which is probably something that won't be an issue once I'm done getting the setup set up.

TLDR version: Blogspot is free and I am cheap. Blogspot wins!

Let me know what you think of the blog - the layout is likely to change somewhat, but suggestions and gentle criticism would be quite helpful!

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