Software, Technology

Top Blogging Trio

Despite the meteoric rise in social networking, traditional blogging has not gone away. Some of the most influential websites on the Internet including TechCrunch and Mashable, started out as a small blogs.

Now there is a bewildering array of blogging platforms, both free and paid services. If you don’t want to shell out on the pay-per-month hosting sites like Squarespace and Typepad, the top choices for new bloggers remain WordPress.com, Blogger (now owned by Google) and Tumblr…

Blogger (“Powered by Google”)

Blogger (nee ‘Blogspot’) is still the mass-market choice for new to blog authors as Google makes it very easy to get started. Blogger is a very easy to use, quick-start-up platform demanding very little learning to get going. The free themes are mostly okay, if somewhat cheesy. Customisation options are extensive and if you are into HTML and CSS you can modify just about any aspect of the visual design. The control panel is relatively straightforward.

Blogger is just about gaining respectability after years of confinement to the “mom’s kiddy photo album and recipe” ghetto.

Pros

  • Easy to use dashboard interface for posts
  • Allows ads using Google Adsense and javascript text widgets
  • Integrates with Google Friend Connect
  • Allows basic template editing (HTML validation prevents malicious code)
  • SEO optimization

Cons

  • HTML code rules are opaque and not obvious in the editor. Simple and common CSS styles often not allowed.
  • Limited selection of templates and configurations
  • Can only import content from other Blogspot blogs

WordPress.com

Now with a massive user-base, WordPress.com is winning the arms race with Blogger to provide the most comprehensive blogging platform. More complex in terms of features, templates, control panel and settings, is presents a steeper learning curve but better ultimate control. WordPress offers a stack of theme choices suiting any type of blog. If you outgrow the free-hosted option you and always go self-hosted with the open source version for total control.

Pros

  • The ubiquity of WordPress means lots of support
  • Top posts get featured on WordPress.com homepage
  • Photo galleries can be added to individual posts
  • Affordable upgrade options like domain mapping
  • Import posts from any blogging platform (Blogger, Livejournal, Moveable type)

Cons

  • Free WordPress more limited than the self-hosted option
  • Ads and Javascript now allowed under restrctions
  • Theme templates cannot be modified (however, stylesheet CSS editing is available as paid upgrade)

Tumblr

Tumblr may be the newest platform, but it has learned from a mature market how to do things well based on the mistakes made by earlier startups. Unlike WordPress.com and Blogger, Tumblr is a microblogging service that allows you to upload videos, pictures or text quickly. Community engagement is encouraged, Tumblr users ‘follow’ one another and reblog interesting posts.

Pros

Easy to use
Good choice of clean, sleek and professional themes
Well-liked posts quickly get re-blogged throughout the Tumblr community
Popular among the younger, trendier Internet hip-cats
Good micro-blogging short-post platform
Free domain mapping

Cons

  • Reliant on Tumblr community
  • Commenting features are awkward
  • No stats, widgets or Google search optimization

Verdict

Blogger is the one for simplified, personal blogs, ads using Google Adsense and building a reader community using Google Friend Connect. You might find yourself banging into Blogger’s restrictions after a period of mature blogging.

WordPress.com is the recognised ‘professional’ platform with everything up to the kitchen sink included (shortly to be available as a WordPress plugin). The ‘can’t go wrong’ option.

Tumblr is for the community-minded youngsters with friends on Tumblr and keen to repost short stories. It may be doing Tumblr a dis-service but I always look in thinking ‘attention deficit disorder’. AJS

About Allan J. Smithie

Allan J. Smithie is a journalist and commentator based in Dubai.

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