Blogging Service Shootout: Blogger vs. WordPress
Getting a blog designed and set up is one thing; actually posting to it regularly is another. In comparing Blogger and WordPress, I looked first at the basic features such as writing a post, and then beyond that, at such tasks as embedding videos and pictures, adding polls and forms, and formatting text.
Once my blog was set up, adding content was straightforward -- click a button to create a new post, then simply type in text.
Across the top of the screen are buttons for formatting text, creating links, inserting images and video, creating lists, inserting quoted text, and so on. A spell checker is included. Code jockeys can turn off those buttons and instead compose in straight HTML. And you can always switch back and forth between the HTML view and WYSIWG view, although I found myself primarily writing my blog in WYSIWG view, because I rarely needed to add code that Blogger couldn't handle.
Down the right-hand side are a series of icons that let you create tags (which Blogger, true to Google style, calls Labels), schedule posts to be published at a later date, control whether and how visitors can add comments, and add geotags. There are also options for how to handle HTML code -- should the blog post display , for example, or instead use it to make text bold.
To change the layout of your blog and/or add themes, go back to your blog overview page and then use Blogger's global navigation, which is down the left-hand side of the page. Click Layout to choose from different navigation bars to use on your blog, edit the header (including using a custom graphic), and choose from a variety of gadgets (the equivalent of WordPress widgets) that let you add features such as the ability to display your site's traffic stats, allow visitors to follow the blog by email, embed Google AdSense or include a link for RSS feeds. Click Template, and you'll be able to choose from about two dozen templates. Being in inveterate tinkerer, I used this feature more than I really needed to, because it was so simple to quickly see how my blog would appear in different designs.
WordPress provides you with a page called the Dashboard where you both tweak and add content to your blog.
The QuickPress area, which is located on the right side of the Dashboard page, lets you create a very basic post. Type in the title and text for your blog entry, add tags, click Publish and it goes live. If you wish, you can save it as a draft instead. You can also use the Dashboard to easily add media content such as pictures and videos -- or a poll or feedback form (a nice touch, because normally those items would require substantial coding) -- by clicking the appropriate icons.
I started writing posts this way, but soon found it somewhat frustrating because QuickPress doesn't offer simple features such as creating links or formatting text; any QuickPress-created post has to be edited later using the Dashboard. A better bet, I discovered, is to head to the Dashboard menus on the left side of the screen, and choose Add New from the Posts area. There you get a fully featured post creator that offers a multitude of controls.
Two tabs allow you to choose between coding the HTML yourself or creating a post using a rich text interface -- you can click the tabs to toggle between them. I found buttons for creating lists, aligning and formatting text, creating links, inserting custom characters, and even a nifty feature for pasting text from Microsoft Word that deletes any invisible formatting Word might have added. There's also a built-in proofreader which, given my penchant for writing quickly, I found extremely helpful.
The Dashboard offers plenty of ways to tweak your site. It lets you select themes, change your background, create a custom menu for links, add polls and feedback, and add a variety of widgets, such as a calendar, a Facebook "like" box, and an RSS link.
You can create posts via email; if you create mail with a client that supports HTML formatting or rich text, that that will be included in your post. You can include images, and even create image galleries by attaching groups of images to your email.
For basic posting, Blogger is clearly superior, offering simple buttons and navigation for adding new content, scheduling content to be published, and automatically adding geotags to posts. WordPress also offers a quick, simple way to add content, but it falls short because some important features are missing such as the ability to format text. However, once you get used to its more feature-filled Dashboard, you'll find plenty of tools -- more powerful ones -- within reach.
The upshot? WordPress is superior for anyone who wants more advanced content-adding features in a blog. Those who care foremost about simplicity will favor Blogger.
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