Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Few Minor Cosmetic Changes to the Blog

Whenever I think about overhauling my blog, I end up making just a few tweaks instead. The "new" Blogger doesn't have any templates like mine (many of the new templates are rewrites of old ones, but mine wasn't "migrated" to the new style for some reason). What I hate about most of them is that they limit the width of the blog text so when you maximize the browser, there are big, empty spaces on either side (example1, example2). I like the way my text stretches to fill the entire space. The handful of templates that didn't have this flaw (in my eyes) were unacceptable for some other reason. I guess that means I like my current design too much to change it drastically, but it needed some updating.

My first concern was the right sidebar. I never liked Blogger's default "about me" section, so I deleted it. I changed my blog description to be more about me than about the blog itself, including links to my business and my book. Then I moved it from the sidebar to a more prominent position under the "DJWriter" title. In theory, putting my occupation up front will get me more work. I'll let you know how that goes (as far as I know, the blog hasn't captured any clients for me yet, probably because I sound too grumpy). Removing the description and "about me" from the sidebar brought the link for my book to the top. The blog may not bring me clients, but it has sold a few books.

Since I've been blogging for 36 months, the archive list of every month in the sidebar has become unwieldy. My favorite feature of the new Blogger is the expandable tree-view of the archives (example). Unfortunately, that option -- along with any other "dynamic" features using "widgets" -- appears to be unavailable to people like me who post their blogs via FTP (in other words, people who use their own Web host instead of using Google/Blogger's servers to host their blogs). I guess that's my punishment for being a control freak. Still, I had to do something. I settled for a drop-down menu of the months instead, which at least takes up less screen space. I doubt that people are going to look at old posts unless they find them directly through a search engine anyway.

I also added "white space" (actually gray space) within the sidebar to make it easier to read. Then I made my blog post titles (i.e. "A Few Minor Cosmetic Changes to the Blog") a couple of points larger so they would stand out more. I wanted to increase the space between the post title and the post body as well as decrease the space between the post body and the post footer, but I couldn't figure out how. Then just for the heck of it, I changed a bunch of margins by a few pixels -- something no one would notice anyway.

All in all, I suppose it doesn't make much difference, but I spent a lot of time on it last night. I suppose I should have known, but I didn't realize there is a whole community of bloggers who blog about Blogger, discussing tips, tricks, hacks, and quirks. Their advice didn't help me a lot -- it mostly told me what I couldn't do because I use FTP -- but it was fascinating reading.


Jennifer said...

Yeah, yeah, I know.

Jennifer said...

And I should also mention that the new format looks great.