In the past few years two Blog providers have emerged as the best free Website creation tools – Google Blogger and WordPress.com. Note That I say Website because the page, widget, theme and menu features of these two tools added to the blogging features allow one to create more than a blog but a full web experience, a “real” website. These two tools provide the lowest cost and the best feature sets for users who want to get a web presence at low out-of-pocket costs yet still have a rich and attractive website. One can create a great looking gallery site, a customer oriented events service, or a magazine-like websites. In sum, for many users Blogger or WordPress may be the best approach to Web Presence in general. This post will attempt to guide users as to the best choice of Blogger vs WordPress. For a number of reasons there is no one dominant choice- so much depends on users needs and Web requirements.
In fact that is the crucial question, what do you want do on the Web?
Depending on your answers to the above question, determines how you want to approach the Web and incorporate either Blogger or WordPress. But consider the following fact – major companies like Google, CNN, NYTimes, Herman Miller and small ones like Sencha, WestBen, and GlassWorks are using not just Blogger or WordPress but also Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and host of other sites for their complete presence on the Web. You will want to do the same over time – use Facebook, Google+, and Twitter for instant notification among client and friends while also getting the SEO and marketing impact that comes from having multiple Web presences for your venture and site.
So we begin this comparison of Blogger vs WordPress with an Executive Summary that asks the big questions and then points to the parts of this review that most directly answers them. Note these questions are to be answered by the clients not the developers.
|The Major Questions
|1)Is simplicity and ease of use crucial to you?
2)Are you email savvy?
3)Do you use Word or DTP?
4)Do you know some HTML?
5)Do you use CSS for some styling?
|1)If you answer YES to 1, NO to last 5 questions – Consider using Tumblr, Facebook or Google+ for your immediate needs.
Using these tools will give valuable Web experience while getting your message to friends and colleagues.
2)If you said yes to 2 and 3 then you have the basic skills to handle either Blogger or WordPress – compare them here.
3)If you said yes to 4 but no to 5 & 6 – consider WordPress.
4)If you said yes to 4,5,& 6 – consider using Blogger.
|Is your website for promoting an event?
|If it is a onetime or infrequent event use Facebook, Google+, etc especially if your audience is local & among friends, colleagues.
But for recurring and broad regional events – use Blogger or WordPress compared in detail here.
|Is your website directed toward an interest with user chats key?
|Consider either Blogger or WordPress – compare them here.
|1)Is your website promoting a brand or service?
2)Are images with descriptions vital to your promotions?
3)Do you need to get customer info from forms, polls, surveys
4)Do you need to provide data to clients based on their queries?
|If 1 is yes but no for all others – consider using Facebook.
2)If 1 & 2 are yes – then either Blogger or WordPress are better.
3)if 1 thru 3 are yes then favor Blogger over WordPress
4)If 1 thru 4 are yes move up to your own hosted copy of WordPress
|Is your website intended to sell directly a product or service? or
Is your website intended to support hundreds of visits per day? or
Is your website intended to get and supply data on request primarily?
|Go directly to your own hosted copy of WordPress – the basic cost for domain name, hosting service and getting loaded up – about $70-150US. Recurring cost for domain name and hosting $55-100/year.
In sum, what this comparison will show is that :
1)For simple local events and services Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Tumblr and other social web services may be your best first Web presence. Move up to Blogger or WordPress when styling, design and layout become issues[and in many cases they quickly will]. But do not abandon Facebook et al. Rather use them to promote your new website and brand as well. Alert clients to events or specials on Twitter or Google+ but send them to your site for all the details.
2)Blogger and WordPress are perfect vehicles for promoting interests, events, and brands. They are less versatile when client specific data and reports have to be delivered by request. However, both tools allow a build up of stories about the event/brand and then pictures and reactions to the event to be posted. Finally, your website can becomes the goto place for downstream events for next years promotions and event. See FloatyourFanny.ca for an example.
3)For chat, diary and/or interest sites both Blogger and WordPress are prime candidates, so see the feature comparison below to find your best fit.
4)Finally for data intensive websites and/or eCommerce work go directly to your own hosted WordPress or custom-design website for best results.
So this is the excutive summary for the use of Bloggeror WordPress
Simplicity and Ease of Use
Blogger and WordPress are not simple but do have many ease of use features. But just look at the starting admin pages for both – yes somewhat intimidating for the first time or infrequent user.
|Blogger Admin Area
|WordPress Admin Dashboard
Users of both Blogger and WordPress will have to master 7 major commands with emphasis on Settings, Post, Pages, and Layout [Appearance | Widgets in WordPresss]. This is not impossible given that many of the commands like Post and Page are nearly identically the same in both systems. Thus it is imperative to understand the difference between Posts and Pages [see here or the sidebar below]. But there is a learning curve for first time users of blogs .
So at first, new users will be at a loss to find how to do things. Fortunately, WordPress has a distinctly better Help system embedded right in the Admin area’ in contrast Bloggers help which appears and disappears depending on what admin page you are on. But both Blogger and WordPress have good online and standalone Help systems with useful but not comprehensve Search for Help options. Both systems frustrate users when a search turns up nothing about “embedded scripts” or “link categories”. Both have some very good getting started books such as Beginning Google Blogger by Heather Porto for Blogger or Teach Yourself VISUALLY WordPress by Janet Majeure for WordPress both versions. The Blogger book is a bit out of date but users will find that staying up with the fast pace of developments is part of the excitement of blogging. In sum, give WordPress an advanage in ease of use and help over Blogger.
The Comon Feature Sets of Blogger and WordPress
Remarkably, one of the advantages of Blogger and WordPress is that they have a huge list of at least 32 common features[see table directly below]. As we shall see these festures set them apart from the many competing Web site creation programs like Adobe’s new Muse, Microsoft Web Matrix or Xara’s Web Designer. Also there at least a dozen Web based Website creation programs that have some but not all of the features provided by Blogger and WordPress. Or the vendors charge [sometimes after the first year] for features that Blogger and WordPress give away. Thus it is these superb set of Website development features that set Blogger and WordPress from all the other Website creations tools.
But equally important is the fact, that WordPress first and now Blogger have added well designed features and tools to the reportoire. For example, TopTen has a very informative table on the top ten blogs available in terms of ease of use and best design and writing features.WordPress is ranked number 1 and Google’s Blogger is ranked 4th. This section shows why Blogger and the online version of WordPress are right now the best free website creation tools with free hosted services on the Web.
|Common Features of Blogger and WordPress
|The most similar feature – Powerful WYSIWYG Page and Post Editors as shown above
32 Important Common Features For Both Blogger and WordPress
– Free user named URL like MySite.blogspot.com or MySite.wordpress.com
The 32 features above are quite formidable.Particularly the admin features go well beyond what is available from Web-based creation tools like Jimdo or Wix. Both Google and Blogger allow any user to create a distinctive Website with all the features of a professional Website except perhaps sophisticated forms, data, and e-commerce transactions. But an event site, or personal blog, or a beautiful gallery site are all possible just visit here for a sampler of Blogger sites and here for WordPress ones. But equally impotant is the fact that Blogger and WordPress sites are easy to maintain with a WYSIWYG editing and wizard based customization of the sites layout.
Now many might take exception to this anointing first rank to Blogger and WordPress.com . First many of the competing blogs and wikis have a long history of delivering services on the Web. But many of competing blog programs also require that users have their own web server either in house or through a hosted web services. There is also a requirement for your own own domain name [like www.theOpenSourcery.com].
Others in the Social Media camp can argue that Facebook Groups, Google+ Pages, and the whole Tumblr environ among others offer users great and easy to use Web presence tools- especially where users want it to be among their friends, acquaintances, and perhaps a wider span of “global” neighbors. What could be easier to get your event message out then a social media page? And there is no question this is true. But users message are controlled by the social media site like Facebook as to styling, positioning and layout – this is the most critical flaw in relying on social media to get your message out. As well others postings may move your story down the page a lot faster than you would like. In sum, social media like Facebook and Tumblr are vital to your web presence – but as suppliments that point to the full story on your own website.
There is no argument social media can be perfect tools for publicizing local events, publishing albums of pictures+stories, and promoting/advertising activities or business. But problems start to occur when the web announcement takes more than one page or requires special design flair or needs specific forms to be filled out and interacted with or fees collected. Social media pages are often the first stage in discovering you need a website.
So then there is a second tier of website suppliers. Companies like SquareSpace, JimDo, Weebly, Wix, and Yola among others offer real website creation capabilities including hosting services, subdomain names, template based designs, menu-driven pages, and some sophisticated drag and drop tools for creating specific pages. As well many of the major hosting services like 1and1 and Icdsoft offer their own website development tools which speed up the website creation process. This is often a case of the Web development tools providers getting into the hosting service business or vice versa – a hosting service adding on a quick web development tool. But these “free” website development services vary widely in costs and features – some create pages but no blog posting services; some have free development costs; but charge for space and time on a quaterly or yearly basis; some have a basic development or operational feature set; but charge for extras.
An ideal situation would be the ability to create a starter website and operate it essentially for free – no developer cost, no hosting service nor unique sub-domain name cost. And our argument is that the two blog services, Google Blogger and WordPress.com, do provide both the cheapest and the best web presence opportunities. You can go farther in creating your website in these two services and with the lowest out-of-pocket costs.
Our argument for Blogger and WordPress.com is threefold. First, that CMS and blog development systems offer some of the most effective website development tools. Second, among the many very good open source CMS/blog systems, three tools, WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla are standouts. And third, among the blog/web development tools offering nearly free hosting services, Google Blogger and WordPress.com lead that pack by providing not only free website creation [and later customizing, if you want] tools but also susbstantially free hosting space and services.
But there is another fundamental reason to consider Google Blogger or WordPress.com. Both of these systems have made designing and customizing your own website very approachable and easy to master. This is importnat for users that want to go beyond “cookie-cutter” websites. Likewise the operation of the resulting website/blog in terms of adding or modifying Pages and/or Posts is also simplified and familiar to anyone who uses word processing or email regularly.Finally there is an army of 3rd party developers and practitioners able to assist you for fee or free in developing and operating your websites – see the resources section at the bottom of this post. The following slideshow provides the specific details and argues in favor of Google Blogger or WordPress.com as your first choice tool for website/blog development. Click on a Gray Slide below to Advance to the next Slide:
[iframe src=”http://theopensourcery.ca/slideshows/bestblog2.html” width=’100%’ height=’750′] As you can see from the slideshow there are a lot of shared features for each blog system. And some of the screens, except for colors and font-size, look very similar precisely because there are more than 32 common features.
Comparison of Blogger vs WordPress
The second major advantage for Blogger are its gadgets – equivalent to WordPress widgets. Where WordPress has 50 widgets, Blogger has over 1000. Also Blogger is a little more flexible in the installation of its gadgets.
The third advantage for Blogger is not so clear cut but key aspects of its template system work in Blogger’s favor. Now consider that templates or themes are key to the look, layout and feel of your website. First, as delivered Blogger has 8 built-in templates while WordPress has over 193. And WordPress has a very desirable and easy to use preview system for
trying out before activating any of it 193 themes. Currently 34 of those themes are premium which cost between $45 and $70 one time charge. The premium themes feature Magazine layout, built-in image or story sliders, and more theme layout control. Second, Blogger allows third party templates to be used[about equally divided between free or fee]; however the process is not nearly as easy to use as the WordPress previewing system. So the advantage appears to be in favor of WordPress until you consider that Blogger users have access to hundreds of templates [see the Blogger resources below]. However loading up and changing anyone of those hundreds of templates is not nearly as easy as in WordPress.
The last advantage for Blogger is the Template Designer.
For $30/year/blog, WordPress gives you access to their themes and their driving CSS layouts. For free, Blogger gives you access to the same CSS layouts in either a guided Template Designer or direct access to the CSS like the premium WordPress service. The screenshot above shows some of the detailed control possible with the Template Designer which is easier to use than the either Blogger or WordPress CSS editors. For some bloggers, control over fonts, color, backgrounds , and other layout properties is absolutely essential and thus this is a clear advantage to Blogger.
Here is a table of the detailed differences between Google Blogger and WordPress.com.
|$5/year for 5GB – initial free = 2GB
|$19.97/blog/year for 10GB – intitial free = 3GB
|Hundreds of free+premium templates
-but 3rd party templates more complicated install
|currently 159 free and 34 $premium themes
|tags+categories +3 Formats
+Backup for all revisions
|Yes+users can be assigned various roles and permisions
|HTML+WSYWIG editors same Post and Page editors
+Fonts choice free
+fontsize control free
+choice of text highlight color
+set location of story on Google Map
-no access to revisions
-full screen for HTML edits only
|HTML+WSYWIG editors same Post and Page editors
+ full screen editing mode
+insert unique character popup
+all revisions saved
+able to compare and choose revision when out of sync
+proofreading automation available
+ SEO automated to Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo
-font and fontsize control cost extra
-no text highlighting
|simple list of properties
|rich list of properties
|+ text – richest set of text styling
+ free tables but must know HTML
full set image
+ yes free video – youtube
+ free .mov audio
+ Flash embed code HTML reqd
+Adobe PDF HTML reqd
+ GoogleDocs use iframes
|full set of images capabilities
-text – lacks controls except for $extra
-video costs extra $60/year/blog
– flash – cannot embed,
– $extra PDF
– $extra powerpoint
– $extra spreadsheet
|Post/Page HTML and CSS Support
|+forms – yes
+ iframe – yes
+CSS style inline
+ CSS yes style tag
+ allows textarea
+ <script> tag – yes
|forms – limited, but wizard based
– no iframe – stripped out
– CSS style inline – stripped out
– CSS style tag – $extra
– script inline – stripped out
– Script tag -stripped out
|-import XML only
export Blog Atom XML
|+ import 8 sources
export WXR XML
|List of Links
|Simple feature set
|More types but also $extra for all
|40 key free widgets
Drag and Drop design/layout
+1000 3rd party widgets,
many have appended advertising or cost
|About 40 key widgets
Drag and Drop design/layout
|– only 8 basic free templates
Preview of templates
+many free 3rd party templates
-complicated load of 3rd party templates
|+ 193 themes, 159 free themes
Superior review of themes
– $extra 3rd party themes
|Customize Themes or Templates
|Background edits Header edits Layout edits +widths
+CSS and fonts
+easier layout changes
Many options depend on provision by template builder
|Background edits Header edits Layout edits
-CSS and fonts $30/yr
Many options depend on provision by theme builders
As one can see from the table there is leadership positions for both Blogger and WordPress – its is situation dependent choice. As both a user and developer, ye Editor employs and develops for clients both Blogger and WordPress.com sites. If users are HTML or CSS averse and want ease of use as a primary goal, then I tend to steer them to WordPress. If on the other hand they have an existing website [and therefore some Web and HTML experience] or have a need for a specific features – say Flash or Video, then I am inclined to recommend Blogger. But both will do equally well for a wide range of simple startup websites – like a Church in Port Hope or an artistic creations outfit. Then because it is so easy, fast and no cost to create a site in both Blogger and WordPress I do so and show both systems and let the user choose. Some decisions are straight forward – use of videos and forms at lowest possible costs indicates Blogger. Also Blogger has the advanatge of the sheer number of design templates available.
However, there is one crucial difference between the two software systems. WordPress.com has an upgrade path not available in Blogger. Users can step up to free, enterprise caliber full WordPress software from WordPress.org[users include NYTimes, MarthaStewart, CNN amomg others]. Blogger does not have this option. Thus, WordPress.com users have a path to creating their own user hosted blog. And the task is remarkably easy given that your WordPress.com site provides a robust export function. The cost hosting your own site with your domain name is $100-200/first year which falls to $70-100/year thereafter. And the tiime to is 1/2 to 2 days at most and really is very much dependent on the users prior blog experience. Thus previous Blogger or WordPress usage will accelerate creation of your own hosted blog. The other factors that are critical is access to fastand reliable Internet connection plus experience with FTP and Control Panels like the admin areas in Blogger and WorkPress
Now consider the full WordPress.org software is a)uses most of features of the WordPress.com subset as model, b) is Open Source , c)available for free download at any time from WordPress.org and d)is constantly being improved . In fact many of the improvements are derived from features first developed on the WordPress.com site.There are 4 other advantages when you move up to your own hosted WordPress site:
1)Suddenly all that CSS Styling that got stripped out is now available; ditto for your own stylesheets, and the ability to change your theme’s CSS stylesheets ;
3)Plugins are like Android and Apple Apps. They can bring enormous features to your website. Like a calendaring system or an embedded wiki on your site. See here for a superior premium service or here for the WordPress core plugins.
4)hundreds of themes both free[the majority] and for a fee. Checkout the free themes here.
In sum, full WordPress puts users on one of the best web development systems available to day. See what 3DSystems did for their new Cubify 3D printer launch.
After 15 years, establishing a free Web presence has been finally been provided to end users in a set of very approachable yet also rich options. First, there are simple event and activity notice boards + gallery albums available from Social Media like Facebook Groups,Flickr Image Albums and Google+ Pages. These are perfect for picture galleries uploaded or getting one page notices out to friends and community at essentially no out-of-pocket costs other than time and effort.
Next, web hosting sites have improved their website design and customizg services greatly. Most provide design tools that simplify creating pages with drag and drop ease of use and the opportunity to change or customize those designs online. As well, sophisticated web development software makers now provide good Web hosting services. The net result is that getting your first or improving your existing Web presence has been dramatically improved in the competitive push between these two groups.
And at the top of the food chain are two services, Google Blogger and WordPress.com which provide the most bang for your $free buck. But don’t be fooled. Although the costs for both Blogger and WordPress.com are among the lowest in the blog and web development business, the costs of planning for, designing and operating a blog/website g are very real and can become substantial personal and/or organizational costs As websites becomes ever more vital to businesses or organization, the time and effort to run a good website cannot be ignored.
Finally, going with a blog does not preclude using other Web development systems. Facebook Groups, and Goole Plus Pages still have a vital SEO and blog marketing role to play. Both Blogger and WordPress.com can be integrated with existing websites in a number of ways. Bottom line, Blogger and WordPress.com are attractive because they can be easily fit into a cost effective web presence.However, now more than ever, it pays to know not just what you want now but where you ultimately want to be. Both Blogger and WordPress allow users to grow their Websites with maximum flexibility.
So consider this, it is now possible to have multiple, mutually supporting Web Presences at an out-of-pocket cost that is hard to beat – Free.
Artiseer.com – Blogger templates creation tool; also Drupal, Joomla and WordPress for hosted blogs
Artweaver.de – Free photo editor in Photoshop style, great for getting images ready for blog use
BasicBlogTips – good general advisories on blogging
iPhoto – Apple’s free Mac program is the best that Apple has besides Gimp and Picasa
Paint.net – free Windows photo editor with neat effects and fast editing
PhotoPosPro – another excellent Windows photo editor with lots of image composition features
PhotoFiltre – Windows photo editor with nifty filters and effects as well as fast editing
SpiceupYourBlog – great ideas and tips for Blogger and WordPress.
Blogger Account Limits – some of the info n size posts, no. of pages, size of images,, etc
Blogger help – official support and help site
BloggerBuster – excellent templates, tips, and tutorials on Blogger
BloggerSentral – great set of practical and integration tipsm for Bloggers
Btemplates.com – a wide range of free Blogger templates in a variety of styles and formats
DeluxeTemplates – good selection of blogger templates
Tricks and Tips – Blogger coding and CSS tricks and tips
Beginning Google Blogger by Heather Porto
Develop for WordPress.com – how to develop tools and themes for WordpRess.com
Teach Yourself VISUALLY WordPress by Janet Majeure
WordPress.com Support – helps and support pages for WordPress.com blog usage
WordPress.com Themes – Free and Premium themes – the only source for WordPress.com blogs
WordPress.com Themes – Free Themes for your own hosted blog/website
WPMU Dev – The premium plugin and theme vendor; yet prices are reasonable
WordPress Plugins – 19,000 not Apple or Android numbers and maybe that is a real advantage