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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

W3 Platform Spotlight: Blogger

            I like Blogger. I know many people swear by WordPress, and I’ll get to them in due time, but for now I want to go over the perks and drawbacks of Google’s mighty blog engine.
  • Google. That actually is the first perk. Blogger has the benefit of seamless integration with other Google services, and Google’s one account login. All of Google’s services that feature any kind of embeddable code are designed for easy integration with Blogger.
  • Free. Blogger is 100% free. There are some templates out there that can be purchased, but there are no other pay walls to deal with, including hosting. You will have to pay for your domain (and every serious author should buy a domain), but Blogger doesn’t charge any fee for hosting. Heck, you can even purchase the Domain through Blogger because of Google’s integration. Convenient.
  • Flexible. I know, I know. Everyone talks about the power and flexibility of WordPress, and they mostly right. But Blogger is no slouch. You have access to a lot of gadgets (widgets) for your site, and you can customize the layout to your liking with ease. It even supports HTML & javascript of your own design, so you can add functionality from anywhere.
  • Template Editor. I love the Template Editor. Colors, backgrounds, font choice, font size, column layout, column width, website width, and more are all there with an easy interface and live preview.
  • Redirects and Static pages. Most platforms can offer this, which is crucial for making a site that is not just a blog. Not everyone wants or needs a blog; many authors are just looking for a landing page to show off books and a little bit about themselves. That’s fine. This is possible through the redirects.
  • Still Updating. Though updates are sparse, they’re still there. Blogger updated with a new feature in May 2016, so they’re still working. Google also still uses blogs to get some news and support out there, so it’s hopeful they won’t disappear (though not a guarantee, alas poor Google Reader).

  • It’s not yours. While the content is all your own copyrighted material, it’s all stored on Google’s servers (much like your Gmail), and so they can discontinue service whenever they wish. Fortunately, Google’s not in the habit of instantly taking down their services, but it’s always a possibility that you will be forced to relocate your site in the future.
  • It might go away. Google has discontinued services in the past, and there has been some talk they might do the same with Blogger. Given that blogs have waned in popularity, it’s a possibility. Google has been pushing its own Social Networking Google+ for a while, but it hasn’t risen to the point to undermine Blogger. Still, you might have to move and set up shop somewhere else, but that’s the web in general unless you’ve got your own servers.
  • Locked in the framework. It’s still a blog platform. There are workarounds for many things, but there are certain aspects you can’t get rid of unless you much in the template, and even then Blogger’s XHTML can be stubborn about certain things. You’re never going to have 100% control, but unless you relish the idea of coding your website from scratch, you probably won’t care.

             Blogger fits on a continuum with other platforms as being moderately powerful, fairly user-friendly, and having the most features for free. Sorry to the WordPress lovers, but while I love power and flexibility to the nth degree, I dislike having “Pro feature” slammed in my face every time I want to do something I consider basic. I’m not made of money, the same as most authors.
I can achieve comparable results on Blogger to many of the WordPress sites without any of the aggravation, and a lot less hassle to my wallet. If I intended to host a site on my own server space or was looking to go with an e-commerce site I’d look elsewhere, otherwise, I’m happy with my Blogger space.

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