5.23.2008

A Change Ahead?


For a while now, I’ve been thinking about moving The Doc File to another blogging service.

There are things about Blogger that I like a lot: it’s free, it’s very customizable, and the Blogger people are always working to improve things and make it better.

What really kills me about Blogger though is how terrible its templates are. By my count there are only 16 templates to choose from (with color variations of each), and most of those are very similar to each other (so it’s more like having about five templates).

As I said earlier, one of the nice things about Blogger is that you can customize a template to the way you want it. I’ve tweaked the HTML code of my blog considerably to produce the current results, but at the end of the day, there are things about my blog that I really don’t like and I’m not nearly good enough with HTML to fix them.

The main feature I would like on my blog is page management (at least, that’s what WordPress calls it), which would enable my blog to contain separate sections, and make it more of a website and less of a blog.

For example, currently, in order to have an “About Me” section, I have to write a post, and then link to it in my sidebar. I’d much prefer for it to be a separate page rather than a blog post, and for it to appear in a navigational bar (this may not seem like a big deal to you, but to a person with some obsessive-compulsive tendencies like myself, it is).

So the simple solution would seem to be switching to WordPress, which has better templates and several which support page management.

But, while WordPress is free in its most basic form, if you want to do any real customization (other than just switching the picture in your header), you have to pay money, which I don’t necessarily mind, but I’d like to know exactly what I’d have to pay in order to get what I want.

And apparently, there’s a distinction between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, and that doesn’t make this process any easier for me.

So, any WordPress, blogging, or general computer experts out there want to give me some advice?

4 comments:

John Wright 5/23/08, 4:19 PM  

I've enjoyed using Wordpress for the most part, although the idea of better Google service integration (I use pretty much all of their other services) occasionally tempts me to switch.

There are lots of great themes for Wordpress, and you can tweak those even more.

Wordpress.com is a free hosting site, so it would be similar to Blogger in that you'd have a "lukedockery.wordpress.com" address or something like that.

Wordpress.org means you download the installation package (which isn't entirely intuitive for someone like me who doesn't know much from a programming/html/css standpoint) and install their software on your own domain. Domains aren't that expensive, but you need hosting for them, and it's not always worth the expense, depending on what you decide to do with it.

With the .org Wordpress, which I think is necessarily more customizable than the .com version, you have to manually upgrade it each time they put out a new release (every other month or so) and worry about backing up your site, or you risk losing everything or being overtaken by hackers.

Perhaps it's not as bad as I'm making it sound, though. I've managed to deal with hassles like that on my .org version of Wordpress for a couple of years now. I also tend to take for granted some of the great features and plugins out there for Wordpress.

If you've used Firefox and/or Opera, there's probably a good comparison to be made. I'd liken Firefox to Wordpress and Blogger to Opera. One is more customizable and tends to fit just about anyone's needs despite some hiccups here and there (FF/WP), while the other runs pretty smooth and probably has a better interface, while not offering a lot of the great features the other has (Opera/Blogger).

I'm not sure how to compare an open-source community like the Wordpress development community to Blogger/Google. I love Google's stuff, but even I prefer Wordpress for now. Blogger has a lot of potential, though, and I'm always keeping my eyes open.

Hope that helps you think about what you want to do.

Luke 5/27/08, 5:11 PM  

John,

Thanks for the input; I was hoping you'd respond.

I was kind of thinking that maybe my problems were kind of a "the grass is always greener on the other side" thing, and your comments have reinforced that somewhat.

I discovered that wordpress.com allows you to mess around with the CSS and then preview it. I might do some of that, and if I find something I like, I might just pay the small fee ($15/year I think) that allows you to mess with the CSS of a wordpress blog.

Thanks for your help.

ecarson 5/27/08, 5:54 PM  

I clearly do not have the tech knowledge that John has, but I will say I have enjoyed wordpress. You can transfer all of your post over, though I believe there is a catch with that and how you have upgraded blogger.

Luke 5/28/08, 3:26 PM  

Carson,

Yeah, I messed with it a little and saw that you can import posts (and comments!). It would mess up tags/categories, but that's a small price to pay compared to having to start all over.

I am still seriously thinking about switching, and am in the middle of researching all my options.

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