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Why I Chose WordPress.org over Blogger

A lot of people, like Sarah and Daniel Smith, have weighed in on the WordPress versus Blogger debate, and now it’s my turn. I was with Blogger for three years, and have only been with WordPress for about a month, but I can’t say that one is hands-down better than the other. Each platform has its benefits, and for different purposes, each might be the best for you.

Blogger is a great free option.* After signing up, you can completely control your blog, from the CSS and HTML to the widgets. You don’t have to put a penny in to get total control over the look and feel of your blog. In short, Blogger gives you everything you could want for free.

However, I was never fully satisfied with the template options. Oh, I know enough CSS and HTML to redesign my site, but without the necessary graphic design skills, I had to rely on spiffing up my site with CSS only, and that only goes so far. Plus, I did not have the time necessary to learn the Blogger code in order to really redesign my page. In the end, I found myself jealously eying the many beautiful and easy-to-install WordPress themes.

Now that I have switched to WordPress.org (the version of WordPress for people who host it themselves, as opposed to WordPress.com, which is hosted by WordPress), I definitely prefer this way of blogging. Because the user hosts, it allows for extensive customization through themes and plugins. You have complete control over your HTML and CSS (unlike WordPress.com, which requires you to pay for access to the CSS)

5 Reasons I Chose WordPress.org

  1. I was ready to host my own blog on my own domain with complete control over everything. (You have same option with Blogger, but #2 easily convinced me switch.)
  2. Thousands of beautiful, free themes, plus many more “premium” themes that you can buy. Even the free WordPress themes feel much more professional than the Blogger themes. But you don’t have to settle for professional, per se. I don’t think my theme is completely “professional” looking, but rather a nice mix of professional and personal.
  3. All of the plugins give you the ability to add extra functionality to both the back-end WordPress dashboard and the front-end, your site. If you know how, you even have the ability to edit those plugins. I started off with five plugins that Sarah recommended, but I quickly found many more that proved useful.
  4. The WordPress interface is much more intuitive than the Blogger interface. It does, like anything, take a little while to get used to it, but now that I know my way around, I definitely prefer the WordPress dashboard. It is more logical and economic with your clicks.
  5. I love the idea of supporting Open Source, even if I don’t fully understand all the implications of doing so in my classroom. I have long prefered Firefox over IE, but I don’t use Linux, and I’ve just recently committed to trying OpenOffice.org**, but as someone who is careful with her pennies, the Open Source movement offers quality software for free (or donation), and I love being able to support that.

Question of the Day

Blogger users: What one thing would you change about Blogger?

WordPress users: What one thing would you change about WordPress?

Notes

* There is also completely free WordPress at WordPress.com, but since I have not used it extensively, I don’t feel qualified to comment on it.
** And by “trying,” I mean using as exclusively as possible for at least six months.

Why I Chose the Agregado WordPress Theme

After re-reading several articles weighing the pros and cons of WordPress and Blogger, I decided that when I bought my own URL, I was going to go with WordPress.org over Blogger (that’s another post for another day). I was more convinced when I tested out buying a URL through Blogger and found out that you have to buy through GoDaddy*. I have nothing against GoDaddy, but I have used Network Solutions when I was helping Mom with her site and PowWeb for Dad’s site, and I knew that I wanted to host with PowWeb (again, another post for another day).

So I installed WordPress through PowWeb’s Install Central feature, and several live customer service chats plus one long chat with Sarah later, WordPress was installed correctly. Now I had to find a nice theme! I searched through all of the themes on WordPress.org. After a while, they all started looking the same to me: newspaper themes, 2 columns, 3 columns, artsy pretty themes, blah, blah, blah. I didn’t want my blog to look like everyone else’s blog, even though there are many great themes available. I wanted something different.

A Google search for “free wordpress theme” and I found three themes that I really liked: Ligneous, Isolated, and Agregado. Ligneous is just pretty, and I seriously considered Isolated because I could play with my name as the name of a tree, not to mention how different Isolated is from 99% of the other WordPress themes.

I don’t remember how I found Agregado, but once I had played around with Isolated and realized the limitations as far as making my site look similar, I decided to give Agregado a try. I was immediately hooked. Here’s why.

5 Reasons I Chose the Agregado WordPress Theme

  1. The color scheme and graphics. I’m no graphic designer, and my web page color schemes have been compared to clown pants. I know when I see good color combinations, I just can’t put them together myself. Thanks to Darren Hoyt, Matt Dawson, and Smashing Magazine, I didn’t have to.
  2. The seamless integration with my lifestream. I like using Twitter and Plurk, Facebook, Flickr, and Google Reader, and I’ve done my fair share of convincing people to try out these sites, especially Twitter. But social media is only fun if you can use it with other people and sites. I could easily add a Twitter plug-in to any WordPress theme, but Agregado integrates all of my feeds into one beautiful “rotating carosel.” Go check it out, and play with the “rotating part.” Cool, huh?
  3. The most useable archives page I’ve seen. I’ve never seen a method of browsing archives that was useful, until the Agregado archives page. Most archives pages make you choose by month, only telling you how many posts the author made that moth, or by listing every post–every full post–over several pages. Neither of these methods is very useable. But the Agregado archives page lists the title of each post and the number of comments by month. You should go check it out; it is accessable it through the little tab menu in the upper right-hand corner and in any listing of my “pages.”
  4. The emphasis given to new articles. When you visit the front page of my blog, an excerpt of the most recent post is very prominent below the header. Below that, the titles of each of the last 8 posts appears, along with comment counts, so you can easily browse those by title. Basically, 9 of my most recent posts are visible in a glance. No scrolling down through the posts and excerpts or entire posts to read recent content. It’s all right there.
  5. It’s free! I’ve seen some really nice WordPress themes, but you had to pay to use them. I already paid for hosting and my domain, and that’s about all I’m willing to pay for to have my own website. Because this great theme was commissioned by Smashing Magazine, it is completely free. Sweet.

Question of the Day

If you had to choose between spending your birthday money on your own domain and spending your birthday money on [insert your vice here, i.e. buying new shoes, new purses, new gadgets, Starbucks coffee every morning for two weeks, books, etc], which would you go for and why?

*I could be wrong that you have to host through GoDaddy, but that is what it appeared to me. Please leave a comment to correct me if I’m wrong!

Say Hello to LindenAMueller.com!

I got some birthday money and decided to finally buy my own domain, lindenamueller.com. Right now, it is only hosting my new fancy schmancy WordPress blog (finally made the switch from Blogger), but in the near future it will host some general information about me and photo galleries, and in the not-so-near-but-not-distant-either, it will host a personal wiki and course materials.

If you are already reading my blog in a feed reader, you shouldn’t have to do anything special to follow me from Blogger to my own domain and WordPress. However, just in case this post didn’t show up in your feed reader, be sure to to take a second now to resubscribe by clicking here. The same goes for email subscriptions; since they are managed through Feedburner and I have already updated the settings on my end, you should not have to do anything to stay subscribed. If you want to make sure that you are still going to get my blog posts delivered to your email inbox or if you want to sign up, click here.

There is still a lot of work for me to do to make my new blog fully functional. First on my list is to create categories (something WP has but Blogger doesn’t) and tags (they were imported from Blogger, but I’m using this opportunity to clean up my old ones). Next, I’ll start migrating links so that links in old posts point to my url and not my old Blogger blog. Hopefully that’s all I need to do, but we’ll see. :)

In the next week or so, I’m going to tell you why I chose this WordPress theme–it’s got some pretty neat features–but in the meantime, feel free to look around the new site, read some of your favorite posts, and be sure to leave comments!