It seems to me that commercial blog software these days is pretty standard. Some features you get on both Blogger and WordPress.com:
- Templates for blog layout
- Widgets or gadgets to display archives, blogroll, rss, etc.
- Certain level of control as to commenting, trackBacks
- Either WYSIWYG (What-you-see-is-what-you-get) editor or HTML.
The first ever blog I wrote was on Blogger. It chronicles the road trip that I took while driving from Minnesota to British Columbia. We did this in the car, connecting to the internet via a cell phone. I did the posts quickly, and didn’t fuss with many settings and found it very easy to use.
The second blog I wrote was on WordPress.com, which I found at first somewhat unsettlingly complicated. This blog was written on how libraries are using Flickr to enhance their collections, and was done for a class last term. This meant it was to my advantage to tweak the settings and make everything look as nice as possible. I found that once I got used to the more advanced “dashboard” that things were very customizable.
After just looking back over my accounts I’ve identified a few differences:
- There are many, many more templates to choose from on WordPress.
- However, you cannot edit the HTML/CSS of your template for free like you can on Blogger. This is so cool and something I really wanted to be able to do last semester.
- WordPress.com blogs allow “Pages”–a separate area for information like, About the Author, or Additional Resources. Nice for separating that information from the side columns on your main page.
- WordPress.com settings take a long time to save, and it takes a while to move between pages in your dashboard. This may be due to the site traffic, who knows, but it’s annoying.
- Blogger makes it hard to have an abbreviated post on the main page. This is when you see a little “More…” link on the main list of posts. I think those are nice, and keeps many posts visible at one time on the home page. In WordPress you can insert this by clicking a button. In Blogger you need to edit the HTML of your post with specific code found on a help page somewhere.
As for data portability, it is hard to say. Can you get your data elsewhere after you have put in so much work? WordPress imported my old Blogger blog just fine, and I didn’t even have to export it first, it was all done automatically through the web.
However, Blogger couldn’t import my WordPress blog, to my dismay. It apparently only supports importing from other Blogger blogs. I’m not sure if that is the fault of the WordPress export file (i.e. they export in a proprietary XML format), or if Blogger simply hasn’t written the software that can do the import. Either way, it seems once you are on WordPress it may be hard to get off.
This may not be an issue, however, because WordPress.com also supports a stand-alone server version of its software called WordPress.org. This is fairly robust, I think, and if you have the know-how and staff for it, could be a good option. There is an active community of WordPress users, as well, so tech support is probably often free. Perhaps you would never want to leave.
I think, overall, Blogger is the way to go for ease of use (and that CSS template editing). And, if it turns out I’m wrong, I can always get my data out. The page loading time issue on WordPress is enough for me to stay away, unless I was going to be running my own server.