Blogger and WordPress both offer very popular free services to set up your own website and get blogging on the internet. Most commentators will agree that WordPress is the way to go, and Blogger is a good second best for people who don’t really know what they are doing. But is that true?
|A WordPress Website|
There are a gazillion articles on this topic, so no need to rehearse the arguments again here. But let’s look at it from the point of view of the blogs-for-free or low-cost web presence community. A community group, charity or campaigning blogger is going to have three things in mind. Firstly, price is an issue. If it will get you the same result cheaper then that has to be a consideration. Secondly, is it easy to use? Few people have the time or the inclination to learn html or to mess about with a website dashboard – they want it done reasonably simply and reasonably quickly. And thirdly, the site should reflect something of the character of the group or issue being promoted – not an off-the-peg look or the issue or campaign will just look like every other website you have seen.
Let the contest begin
So how do Blogger and WordPress measure up to these criteria? They both offer a range of attractive templates and both have easy to navigate dashboards and tutorials to guide you. The templates can also be changed and customised (to a point) and a range of interesting and impressive gadgets can be added to posts or to sidebars. But while Blogger offers a good range of colours, WordPress, it has to be said, offers a simple clean look and high quality finish that is very professional looking, and fits better with the popular minimalist style.
|A Blogger Website|
So what is the cost? They are both free. Or are they? With Blogger you can choose a template, change your header, and sort out the colour scheme of the site and its text, for free. You can also add video footage to any page or post or gadget and an infinite number of gadgets and feeds to a range of sidebars and footers. You are limited to twenty pages, but can have as many posts as you like, and the mechanism for adding sidebars, gadgets and posts is very straight forward.
With WordPress the ‘free’ stops fairly soon. If you like your template, then great. But if you want to customise the colour or font, or add video footage for example, then it will cost you (about 30 dollars per function, and it’s an annual charge). Blogger also remains advertisement free, with the option of adding ads if you want to earn money from your site. Let’s face it, most community bloggers don’t expect enough traffic to earn money, and they don’t want to put off their supporters with flashing adverts asking for cash which may also compromise their image or undermine the integrity of a campaign. So don’t have them? Well with Blogger you simply don’t choose to have ads. With free WordPress you have to pay not to have them. Another annual charge of 29 dollars.
Ease of use
While the Blogger dashboard is marginally quicker and easier to navigate, especially with its useful fast edit function on the home page, both are easy to get to know after a few hours of exploration. The WordPress site is clear and easy to use, but at every turn you are offered to enter areas that will cost you more money, which is frustrating. With Blogger, everything is yours to try out, and if it seems you can’t do something you want to, look up one of the Blogger sages like blogger hints and tips to see how it can be done.
If you get over the hurdle of cost, and learn how to navigate the dashboard, then customizing either website is easy enough. With Blogger in particular you can change the layout, width and the colour scheme to make quite an impact on the original template if you want to. With WordPress you are more restricted with the template you chose, but with the paid version you will have those options. The limitations of Blogger become clearer when it comes to adding gadgets other than the twenty or so developed by Blogger. While the finished blog has a very well thought out style, adding externally made gadgets tends to upset the look, and there are limits to the kind and range of add ons possible. WordPress on the other hand offers an almost infinite number of add ons and you can really make a highly professional site with many different functions if you want to. It will cost you, but it can be done.
And the winner is..
Put simply, if you want a template for free, have no intention of changing it but just want to get posting, either will do you fine. Really, it is a matter of taste which look you prefer. Blogger offers more colour and photographic backdrops which are very eye-catching, but a skip through the WordPress free templates will be bound to throw up something that will suit you, and the range of ‘looks’ is greater. WordPress can (but not always) certainly give you a more professional and finished look straight away, and there is a snobbery out there that favours WordPress sites as being a little above the rest.
If you want to individualise your site, but don’t want to shell out any more money unnecessarily, then Blogger is probably the better option. It immediately offers a whole range of customisations free of charge that are easy to apply, with a preview function that allows you to see before you commit. It also offers free video and photograph montage gadgets which can add to the impact of your site and allow your visitors to connect to youtube or your embedded videos easily. You can change font and customise your header and generally learn to manage your site more easily, quickly and cheaply than you can with WordPress.
But finally, if your long-term plans are to build a permanent and highly impressive website, then WordPress has fewer limitations (other than cost). The potential is much greater, and in the long term it will not hold you back in technical or space terms if you have greater ambitions for your organisation.
Critics vs public
So what do the public and the critics think? The critics certainly prefer WordPress if you read their reviews on the internet. But the critics are techies mostly, so they see the possibilities with Wordpress – and maybe they don’t quite like the fact that Blogger makes them redundant because it gets non-techies up and running without their help, thank you very much. And the public? They prefer Blogger, by the millions!