Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Reasons to go WordPress or Blogger


I have had a few talks at my local writing group about how to blog. Some members ask me what they should use, as they have read about multiple sites and ways of going about it. Here is a rundown of what I told them, and hopefully, it helps out you.

For beginners: Blogger

Google caters to the first-time user in blogging. Blogger is straightforward, everything is labeled and easily identifiable. This cuts down on technology confusion we all face when confronted with a new setting. To post, all that's needed is to click on the New Post button, and a screen with all the essentials pops up. Google Analytic keeps track of who's viewing, from where, and how they got to the blog. Templates give variety, and layout is a click and drag affair. As I said, everything is intuitive.

As a user of Blogger for many years, or Blogspot as I used to know it, I always recommend it. There's little to not like. Other blogging sites are difficult to understand, even if someone knows a thing or two. The key to Blogger is to become comfortable with the layout and the inner workings of the mechanisms, and go into Template and meticulously design an ideal site out of one of their pre-existing arrangements. Be warned, this will take a few hours, for me it was three, but it was well worth it. I had the look of a unique blog, with the functionality of Blogger.

The issue that will come up with Blogger is nothing that it does wrong, but will almost always stem from the user wanting more. As Blogger doesn't offer a huge array of choices in look, it puts all its work in functionality and ease of use. While Google has put an effort is allowing a variety of choices, it is sadly not enough.

For intermediates: WordPress

WordPress is for the user looking for a more customized experience, at the cost of a learning curve. Navigating WordPress is troublesome, no two ways about it. The user will get lost in simply trying to post a blog update the first time around. What WordPress will offer, that Blogger cannot, is a larger pool of choices of the blog layout.

Themes can fundamentally change how the blog is navigated. They can display a lot of information of the owner, or can be minimalist, and only be a blog roll. There is a wealth of free Themes, but a user can pay for a premium theme if it is the type of layout they are looking for. This will be the deciding factor for people, as all the functionality is about the same between Blogger and WordPress.

As with Blogger, there is a warning attached to WordPress. Even with all the Themes, and layouts, and widgets offered, the site will still feel constrictive. It is not true freedom, but an expansion of what Blogger will offer. Everything mentioned before are WordPress-approved, meaning if what they user is wants is not approved, don't expect to find it. The big problem is the lack of JavaScript allowed. I have a Goodreads giveaway which gave me a piece of code, that if posted, will create a nice button anyone can click on to signup for a free book. WordPress will not allow me to post what Goodreads gave me, because of the lack of JavaScript support.

Another huge pitfall for me, was the cost involved with WordPress that does not exist with Blogger. I own my domain, which means the URL is mine. I can link  my domain with Blogger, and it will connect, free of charge. WordPress charges for that role, which means an additional $13 outside of what the user has to pay for the domain name. WordPress users cannot change their font or other significant changes without another charge. One look at the Store shows WordPress keeps quite a few important things away, unless a credit card is involved.

Personal view on the matter

I enjoy both of the large beasts of blogging. They have their pros and cons, and I feel it is up to the individual user of what they prefer. To a number of writers who I work with, they like the feel of Blogger, and don't mind they can't fully change everything on the page. They want to blog. I use WordPress, because I like the additional little things I can put on the sides. I pay some of the cost to be able run a page I want, although I wish I hadn't. The expense of linking the domain I own was off-putting to say the least, and I don't like the idea of paying $100+ to create something close to ideal.

Still, I appreciate what WordPress offers for free, and the small cost associated with it. The advice to take and try both, and see which works on the personal level.