I was asked recently to help some staff create a blog. Nothing too fancy – the content is the main focus. So I decided to build a mock blog that would contain the basics I thought they might want. Starting with a Twitter feed then including a poll and RSS feeds for instance. Adding a slideshow to allow a bit of visual candy.
I started with Blogger.com then tried to build it with WordPress. While WordPress is pretty powerful, it needs plugins to do a lot of its functionality. Many are free but you need to have access to the server to incorporate them into WordPress. With Blogger.com, the gadgets I could add easily make it the outstanding platform for creating free non-commercial blogs.
- Twitter feed. Easily done in Blogger using the html gadget for third party widgets. Not possible except as a plugin in WordPress.
- Using html from 3rd parties to add functionality. As illustrated above, Blogger does this seamlessly. WordPress requires plugins.
- Password protected page. This is an option in WordPress and it works well. I googled and found some code that would suit me for Blogger. Seemed OK but when I used it with my iPad (and our college is heavily into iPads), and tried to enter the password, the virtual keyboard wasn’t activated.
- Poll. This is a gadget that is standard in Blogger. It is a plugin in WordPress, so I couldn’t use it.
- Picasa picture feed. Yes for Blogger. No for WordPress as it prefers Flikr. My preference was for Picasa as I already have a Picasa account. One warning about using a single word like “nature” or “flower” as the keyword – many pictures that could have detrimental repercussions on your career can be displayed by such words! Best to create your own folder with a long name and use all the words as keywords. No nasty surprises that way.
So for me Blogger wins on the free features count. But as I had the problem of hiding some student results behind a password, Blogger didn’t tick all the boxes. I decided on a blended blog solution – I created a page in WordPress for the password protected material and linked to that from the blog I had created in Blogger.