Friday, February 20, 2009

Creating a Blog, The Easy Way

Tonight, I've been taking a few steps towards building a new web site. Blogs are passé; it's now all about Facebook and Twitter. But the easiest way to create a web presence is still to start a blog. So I've been looking at 3 contenders: Blogger, WordPress, and TypePad. I've been attracted to WordPress, and TypePad because I know Blogger. This very blog is on Blogger, which means that I am well aware of its shortcomings. So let's start with WordPress and TypePad.

WordPress


WordPress feels like a more modern, more powerful version of Blogger. They can host your blog for free, and you pay $15/year to have your own domain, and another $15/year if you want to fully control the CSS on your blog. All this is very reasonable, but their interface confused the heck out of me. The look and feel is polished, but I just couldn't find how to do some basic things like adding and removing sidebars. I felt like the WordPress interface was the headlight, and I was the deer. Not good. Some will tell me I should have been more patient. Maybe; but the evening was short, and I said: next!

TypePad


I heard a lot of good things about TypePad, and so thought it would be an easy choice. As I started exploring TypePad, their pricing page stopped me in my endeavor. The most affordable plan that allows you to use your own domain costs $9/month, but it doesn't allow you to setup multiple authors, and you can't fully control the page layout. The next level which has those features is at $15/month, or $180/year. That is 6 times more expensive than WordPress, and 18 times more expensive than Blogger (more on Blogger below). All in all we're still talking about just $180/year. If you're building a professional web site, this most likely won't stop you. If you're not, then you might be wondering if it is really worth paying 6 to 18 times more for TypePad. I didn't wonder for too long, and got back to Blogger.

Blogger

Blogger has many shortfall, but it is huge. It feels like everyone, their mother, and their dog is using TypePad. This means that some shortcomings have been solved by that large community. Consider templates: the standard Blogger templates are either ugly, or tired, or both. But you can find hundreds of free templates out there. Blogger asks $10 to use your own domain, which is as reasonable as it gets. And this is all they ask. Once more, it looks like I'll be using Blogger.

6 comments:

Olivier Bruchez said...

I use both Blogger and Wordpress. Wordpress is more customizable, but less user-friendly, as you noticed.

Sidebars are confusing, I agree. You can configure them under "Appearance > Widgets". Some options for sidebars are also "hidden" in the theme options (depending on the theme).

Goulu said...

I had a blog on Blogger, once.

Now I manage a dozen on WordPress.com and I created a dozen other on self hosted platforms.

a WordPress blog can evolve from a simple thing à la Blogger up to something close to a Joomla powered website, with the appropriate plugins

Alessandro Vernet said...

Goulu,

Ah! You're right: plugins are a big part of what makes WordPress a great blogging platform.

BTW, I was wondering: is the admin interface pretty much the same when self-host blogs using the latest WordPress software?

Alex

Alessandro Vernet said...

Olivier,

Next time I'll have to check the configuration of the sidebars in those two placed you mention. But already teaches us a lesson: when dealing with casual users, when dealing with users who have a choice, we've got to make darn sure that the applications we build are usable. Usability has to be the top priority.

Alex

Ken said...

Alessandro, I like your blog, I have a technical one, too :) I got a mistake into the title:
-Creating An Blog, The Easy Way
Corect is Creating a Blog, The Easy Way

When the next letter is a vowel (a, i, e, o ...) you have to use an, for the opposite - a

Keep up the good stuff man! :)

Alessandro Vernet said...

Ken, thank you for kind comments, and for pointing out the typo. I now fixed the title.