Blogging Service Shootout: Blogger vs. WordPress

Setup

WordPress and Blogger both offer relatively streamlined setup, although streamlined does not necessarily mean problem-free. After a simple signup procedure, you choose design specifications and similar options, which in the case of WordPress I found to be somewhat confusing, because in the beginning it offers an almost daunting number of options.

Blogger

Blogger's setup is exceedingly simple -- so much so, that it looks to me as if it has been built with the primary purpose of bringing blogging to the masses.

Not surprisingly, you'll need a Google account, because Google owns Blogger. Sign in using your Google account, or sign up for one if you don't already have one, choose a name that will be displayed on your blog, agree to the usual terms of service and you're done.

At that point, you're sent to an overview page which shares the same stripped-down aesthetic as other Google services such as Gmail and Google's search engine. The overview page is for more than creating a blog -- it's where you can also read other Blogger blogs that you've chosen to follow.

It's extremely easy to set up a Blogger site.
You click New Blog to create your blog. You then fill in the blog's title and its address, which will end in blogspot.com -- for example, when I typed in "HappyFlight" the blog address was happyflight.blogspot.com. ( You can use your own domain name if you want, free of charge.) You then choose a template, click "Create blog!" and you're ready to go. I found only a small number of templates at first as I walked through setting up my blog; later, I was able to manually choose from among a larger group.

After you finish creating your blog, you're sent back to the overview page. Click the Create new post icon (it looks like a pencil) and the posting screen appears.

WordPress

Signing up for WordPress was straightforward: I entered the usual registration information (name of the blog, user name, password and email address), clicked the link that was sent to me and I was in.

WordPress is a powerful tool with plenty of features and options.
If you're content with using the WordPress domain for your site (for example, happyflights.wordpress.com), then you can do that for free. However, if it's important for business or professional reasons to use your own domain (as in happyflights.com ), it costs $17 per year, a good deal for anyone setting up a business-related blog or site. (If you don't choose this on startup, you can always go back and do it later on for the same price.) At signup you can also choose to map to an existing domain for $12/year. There is also the option of creating the site using a language and character set other than English.

Signing up was straightforward, and once you register for WordPress, your blog is already set up for you. If you're completely happy with the initial design, you don't need to do anything else but create content.

However, if you want to make any changes, things can get a little confusing. WordPress is a powerful tool with plenty of features and options -- but offers too many at once when you begin. It doesn't use a fill-in-the-blank approach to creating a blog or site; there are plenty of options and features from which to choose. They're all available from the main Dashboard page; the left side of the screen bristles with options that have names like Blog Surfer and Readomatic. Even when the names are more understandable -- like Links and Media -- it's still confusing, at first. Quite frankly, I found it somewhat intimidating.

Because of that, your best bet is to watch the video that is available the first time you log in. It's concise and well-done, explaining the basic features and how to set up your first pages -- I found it helpful enough that after a few minutes, I had the blog set the way I wanted. And there's also a feature called QuickPress that is simpler to use than the dashboard, although it lacks many blogging tools.

Bottom line

No surprise here: Blogger has been designed, from the ground up, for simplicity, and so once you sign up, it's very easy to create your blog, write your first post, and publish. WordPress's myriad options can be intimidating at first, while Blogger guides you through the creation and publishing process with ease. I found it much faster to create my blog with Blogger than with WordPress.

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