Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Blog upgrade

Having been hijacked into switching to New-Blogger a few weeks back, I’d been toying with the idea of upgrading to their new template system. The draw had been the “Labels” option, which wasn’t available on Old Blogger.

My blog has always been a rather eclectic mix of posts and different visitors tend to be looking for different things. I have those who relate to the Down’s Syndrome posts, others who like the fatherhood stuff, some who respond much more to my struggles to figure out my existence in the universe and others who just have a fetish for an English accent and get excited when I do an audio blog.

A while back I thought I would respond to this by categorising my blog posts and using drop-down menus for people to find something of interest. However, in order to update the menus I had to periodically go into the template and get my hands dirty in the HTML and the whole thing was messy and time consuming.

New-Blogger’s Labels system puts an end to all that. I can label each post as I write it and it will automatically get added to the appropriate category on the sidebar. However, in order to gain this useful function for my site I first had to choose a new template to customise. Five-minute job, I thought. 2 hours later I finally had it looking the way I wanted.

The problem with choosing a new template is you lose anything you’ve done to customise your site, and in my case, this was rather a lot. In fact I had little idea just how much customising I’d done over the last 18 months or so until I had to rebuild the site.

My page is wider than the standard template, for example, and of course I created my own header. I had my links ordered in a particular way and extras like Sitemeter, Technorati and award banners added to the sidebar. I’d also changed the link colours and put in Google Ads in the vague hope of generating a few pennies (about $11 in 16 months at the last count).

Each bit took longer and was harder to change than I’d expected, but I think you’ll see the results speak for themselves…

Which of course they don’t. I’ve ended up putting in hours of work to make the blog look essentially the same as it did before I upgraded it.

Anyway, the one change I wanted is now there. If you look over to the right you’ll see a section in the sidebar called “Find your favourite topics”. I doubt whether it will be used much but it does give new visitors an at-a-glance idea of what my blog is about to help them decide whether it’s worth investigating further or just clicking on to Next Blog

12 comments:

PI said...

I got the labels thing just by signing on. No way would I have fiddled with the template - or is it tenplate?

Kim Ayres said...

For years I thought it was tenplate, but apparently it is template - at least according to blogger anyway.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

I stay as far away from code as possible, which it hasn't been just lately.

Well, it all looks the same to me apart from the sidebar, but yes, I think I do detect that certain new blog smell, the kind of subtle gleam of the fresh. It's still nice and comfy here though and that's all I care about.

Stinkypaw said...

You did a good job at re-working your blog, 'cause I can't really tell that you made a change, so that's good!

Whenever I "play" with the template, it's always a long, arduous experience to say the least.

Attila The Mom said...

Geez, I'm looking under my favorite topics, but I don't see anything like "Wanking" or "Jello Shots". I'm disappointed!

Kim Ayres said...

Sam - Well I made sure I brought the old sofa across with me.

Stinkypaw - you've got quite a fancy template - did you design & build that one yourself? I've not seen one like it elsewhere on Blogger

Attila - I've never heard of Jello Shots before - is it an American thing, or a euphamism?

Kitchen Bitch said...

Crikey, it just goes to show what one can do if one has a clue which I don't. I hadn't heard of audio blogs before, how on earth do you do that?

Christina said...

I got wordpress, but i was considering changing my theme too. Then I got a warning box saying all my current settings would be changed... So I decided against it. Looks good though (your site that is),
Cheers!

Kate said...

You did a good job - well done that man :-)

Stinkypaw said...

I got the design from a site in France and since then I've made some modifications...

As for Jello Shots, you replace the cup of cold water with Vodka in the recipe to make Jello, and refrigerate - it's so yummy but it does hit you hard! (if you eat too many!);-)

Spider63 said...

The problem with the labels is it forces you to lump things together. If you actually create lots of specific labels then you end up with a gigantic list.

I would like to think that some thoughts, feelings, and experiences cannot be so easily defined.

Kim Ayres said...

KB - record your blog digitally, then you need to upload it to somewhere on the Internet. If you look in my sidebar and scroll down to File Hosting, you'll see there are a few places that offer it for free. I tried out FileHut and Supload, but eventually setteled on Odeo as it allowed me to embed a player in my post rather than sending people off to anither site.

Christina - You need to make sure you have a full back up of your code so you can find and replace all the bits you need. If you're not comfortable with HTML though, I'd get someone else to help.

Kate - thank you

Stinkypaw - I think I'll give it a miss

Spider63 - welcome to my ramblings and thanks for taking the time to comment.

I know the labels are not ideal, but it is better than leaving people to find stuff chronologically. And some of the posts have more than one label.