I’ve been toying with the idea of moving this blog over to WordPress. However, there are some very evenly balanced pros and cons that will probably prevent it from happening for good. When I first started playing around with the free version of WP I saw it had several features that I liked. Stats, for one – in logged-in dashboard mode it has a graph of visits over time. I also like their dashboard interface – perhaps because I am not used to it, but it seems fresh, professional, and is customizable. Post editing is also superior, especially when it comes to managing tags and categories – Blogger’s “labels” are cumbersome by comparison. I also like how it handles categories and tags within the blog pages. In some themes, the categories list across the top as tabs. Widgets for sidebar tag clouds and category clouds or lists are built-in and seamless, not third-party and buggy as has been my experience so far with Blogger. WP allows you to add pages. You could, in theory (and many have in practice) build a “normal web site” out of blogger software. To what extent this is possible with the free version, I have not really explored.
The Cons: The templates, while graphically superior to Blogger’s templates (subjectively – and maybe just because they are fresh to my eye) are not customizable to the degree that Bloggers are. There are several designs that I would take as-is, if only I could change the color of the background or a font, or add a custom header image. Some of them let you do one or two of those things, but full access to the CSS style sheets is only granted to paying customers. To get what I want, I would have to pay almost nothing (for a blog read by almost no-one), learn CSS-ese, only to then agonize over the infinite options opened up to me. That said, even the free themes available have many more graphic choices beyond Blogger’s 2-column standard.
Here are a few screen captures of themes I played around with. (Click for larger image.)
This one feels very similar to my current color scheme, with a little more bright orange punch. Graphically I hate would do away with the orange sunburst at the top (there’s another one at the bottom) and be done with it. It’s a deal killer, for now. But I like the layout, colors, fonts, bars on this one a lot.
Two things I like about this one – the graphic design of the overlapping rounded rectangles, and the way the categories read like tabs across the top. Fonts are good too, and I could even live with the colors, although I would change them if I could. Without the ability to add an image to a header, or change the background color, it looks a bit sterile with text-only posts, though. And it’s too white. Sidebar widgets can and would be changes to liven it up a bit – Flickr slideshow (oh thats another thing – Flickr is the only photo widget supported), tag cloud, might just give it enough life.
It’s clean. It’s brown. It’s too both of those things, and too white to boot. Maybe I just yawned myself out of this one. It has the categories-as-tabs though.
This one I like because it has a grungy, blocky, low tech aesthetic, like an indie magazine. Less assuming and clinical than some others, but also a bit sloppy. And I love the large customizable image header (the one shown is mine not theirs…random). You could rotate images through it with each new post, perhaps. This one is still on my like list.
This one has very clean crisp graphics, and I liked the way the buttons in the header bar highlight when you hover over them (yes, that anal). Better looking if very similar to Titan, but it doesn’t have the category tabs. Sidebar would get some life with better widgets than shown. Too white.
Theme: White as Milk
I love the borderless layout of this one! Uncanny how similar it is to my current Blogger page, but slightly better. I can almost live with it’s whiteness, due to it’s cool minimalism and invisible margin justified columns. (main column could stand to be a bit wider, with today’s screens). Yet it’s so white. But at least it’s white in a 2001 Space Odyssey sort of way.