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Recently I’ve just completed a series on how to set up and run a WordPress blog for beginners.
What the series didn’t cover was the difference between WordPress and some of the other free-to-run blogging platforms out there. So in the interests of balance and all things fair, I’m going to take a look at Google’s Blogger from a UX point of view and see how it compares to WordPress.
As with all Google products, if you have a Google log-in through Gmail, YouTube or any other subsidiary, then your passage through Blogger sign-up is completely automatic.
It takes no time at all to get to the Blogger dashboard.
Blogger is very much geared up for creating a community of blogs. It devotes the majority of the space within the dashboard to the Reading List section, encouraging you to subscribe to multiple blogs.
It’s possible to do this within WordPress, however the feature is slightly hidden compared to Blogger.
Creating your blog
Creating your blog is just a matter of clicking New Blog, then a pop-out appears asking for your Title and a suitable URL. Blogger will automatically tell you if it’s unavailable while you type.
You’re then presented with this simplified bar with the most important links. Write New Post has an obvious bright orange call-to-action.
Writing a post
The layout of the CMS is very simple. If you’re already used to using Gmail, then this should come naturally.
The formatting buttons across the top are all present and correct including an easy quick-link option for adding URLs to text.
The right-hand menu shows options for adding labels, the ability to schedule a post for a specific time and option for writing your own custom permalink.
Adding pictures and videos is also a very simple process.
At the moment there is very little to separate this from WordPress, in fact from a UX point of view this is a much simpler experience.
Once you’ve hit Publish, you’re immediately presented with a large pop-out asking if you want to share this post with Google+.
This is perhaps where WordPress and Blogger start to differ. Within WordPress it’s possible to automatically post an update to Twitter and Facebook (or more if you have extra plug-ins) when you click Publish. That doesn’t seem to be possible here.
Of course any content you write can be publicised yourself through any social channel, but the automatic integration is quite handy especially if your post is scheduled.
However, as this is a Google product, you can be sure that posts on Blogger will be given a certain amount of deference in Google search results, especially if it’s shared on Google+.
Google product integration
If you’ve been running your blog for more than six months and you’ve passed the eligibility test, it’s possible to monetize your blog with Google AdSense. There is also a simplified version of Google Analytics in the backend so you can check your site visit stats.
The other important piece of Google product integration is the fact you’ll be given automatic authorship status.
Basically searchers on Google will be able to see your smiling little face next to your article, therefore encouraging a certain amount of weight and trust to your ramblings.
Authorship can be installed in a fairly straightforward manner on any website or blogging platform, however here it’s automatically done for you thanks to your Google+ profile.
There is a range of around 20 different templates to choose from to give your blog a ‘semi-unique’ look.
On the Template page in your dashboard you can see how your live blog currently looks on a desktop as well as mobile.
It’s worth noting here that none of the Blogger templates are actually responsive. Instead they offer a mobile optimised version of the website.
The lack of variation or range of choice of templates puts Blogger very much in the shadow of WordPress where you have hundreds of themes to choose from. WordPress also offers many responsive designs too.
Customising your layout
Within Layout, you can move the various elements of your homepage around by merely dragging and dropping the ‘gadgets’.
This is quite an efficient and easy to use tool. Each element can also be customised within it’s own box. For instance the Blogger Favicon (the little square that appears at the top of the browser window, tab or bookmark) can be changed to one of your own creation, by uploading it right here.
Even elements like the title of the blog itself can be edited directly from this page.
As a very straightforward, easy-to-use blogging platform, Blogger is excellent.
If you’re a newbie and want a simple, intuitive platform where you can just write as much as you like, without a care for customisation or that your blog may look like thousands of other blogs, then Blogger is perfect. Especially if you run with the notion that Google provides you with better security and easy access to all of its products.
If however you’re a bit more serious about blogging in the long-run and have an eye on future growth, WordPress is the platform for you. It’s far more flexible with it’s vast array of customisable options and it’s not tied to the Google platform and products. It also simple to make the transition from running a free WordPress blog to a self-hosted domain of your own.
Further WordPress reading...
Here are the other posts in my series on WordPress for beginners
- The first few steps involving sign-up, the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org, and your social media presence.
- Writing your first post using the WordPress content management system (CMS), in which I gave some helpful writing advice for first-time bloggers.
- Using the WordPress dashboard and its diverse world of widgets.
- An in-depth look the art of customising your existing WordPress template.
- The 10 best responsive customisable WordPress themes.
- SEO best practice tips for WordPress and for bloggers in general.
- Domain name registration and transferring your WordPress.org blog to its own domain.