Cosmo Digital

Web Log Reviews: Blogger.com

The first site I registered as was Blogger.com. It is certainly very easy to sign up for, requiring only an e-mail address and absolutely no personal contact information of any sort, in case a person is into maintaining their privacy. It is also very easy to get started, provided that one stays within the page templates that are provided. A new user must select a page template from about a dozen designs, although the site promises that the templates are fully customizable. We shall see if that holds to be true. The site I created is located at Wretchedwords.blogspot.com, if you are so interested.

When initially researching this site before I signed up, I became interested in the difference between "Blogger" and "Blogspot". These are in fact two seperate entities, as the Terms of Service makes clear. If someone actually takes the time to scroll though this agreement, they will find that it is actually two seperate agreements placed back to back. (As an aside, actually finding this document was slightly difficult, as there is no direct link to it off of the Blogger.com home page, and so I had to do a search for it. However, there is a link to it within the sign-up pages)

Using my methodology, with this blog I will create two site designs (if it lets me), one in which I use the provided templates, and a second one in which I intentionally try to manually edit/change/break the template and place my own design on the site. With Blogger I immedietly noticed a place to manually edit the template, and so decided to do that portion first.


Manually editing the template is actually much harder than the initial description makes it out to be, and it requires a good knowledge of Cascading Style Sheets. Even with a high amount of CSS under one's belt, a person may be confused by the liberal amounts of "blogger" code that is included in the template, which looks to be based on either PHP or XML (I am not yet sure, and could be completely wrong). An example of this template is below.


When deciding to change the site template, the first thing I attempted to do was to change the usual header text to an image. Now, from looking through various web logs, nearly all of them have simple text as the site header. This, however, would not be satisfactory to me, and I wanted an image. Specifically, I wanted This Image. It may be of interest for you to note the length of that image: at 689 pixels, it is almost guaranteed to break the layout of any site template I could have selected. And that is exactly what it did, once I figured out where to place it. You see, there is no easy or intuitive method by which someone can upload photos to their blog. At least, nothing that jumped out at me, even after looking through all the options in Blogger's "dashboard". The only way it seems to let you post pictures is to add them into a comment that you post, which was not what I wanted to do.

And so, changing the template is the only option for me here. This is slightly problematic, however, due to all the nested DIVs which the template uses. The place where I inserted my title image, for instance, is nested within no less than four DIVs, all of which needed to be resized so the long image would fit. Even after the initial resizing, they all required more tweaking with the width and padding properties before everything looked correct. A much easier method (in my mind at least) would be to set all the widths of the inner Divs to a percentage (such as: "width:100%;"), rather than a set number. Thus, when changing the width of the entire page, only one number needs to be altered for the outside Div, and all the other nested Divs should then adjust themselves accordingly. Perhaps this approach would end up breaking the template even further. Or it could be that the template was not meant to be manually edited, and thus the author felt safe defining the width of every Div. I do not know.

Although I am capable of doing this and managing to figure out the mechanics of the template, I can see how someone who only has a basic knowledge of CSS would be utterly confused. Thus, although the site proclaims to the user that the templates can be changed later, in practice manually editing a template requires a lot of work and a high knowledge of web design, including proficiency with CSS. "User Friendly" this is not. Perhaps they meant that a user could switch their template to a new one, in which case I interpreted it wrong.

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