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Blog Format Discussion

There has been a bit of talk in the last few days about the need for new ways of formatting blogs.

Michael Parekh talks On Blogs Stuck in a Rut:

‘I’ve long wondered how great it would be if my current blogging platform Typepad (a part of Six Apart) or someone else like Google’s Blogger, WordPress etc., offered more flexible and alternative ways to present content in different forms within the same blog. In many ways, the blogging platforms companies have offered blogging templates that have essentially been frozen in time since blogs were first conceived…. For instance, why can’t we have a blog template with the ability to have multiple tabbed pages?’

Jeff at BuzzMachine suggests that it is Time to blow up blogs:

‘Blogs have already become prisoners of their format. Time to light some dynamite…. The problem isn’t the tools, it’s the templates. Blogging tools are merely content management systems without the million-dollar consultants and bills; that’s what I’m telling newspaper folks who complain that it’s hard to put content online. Templates let you format or unformat your stuff however you like and also include stuff of any medium. I’d love to see more clever examples of templates.’

My own reaction is that while most blogs seem to be doing much the same thing as each other there are many blogs doing interesting things with their templates. Most of them are on non hosted options like WordPress, MovableType and Drupal but really the sky is the limit when it comes to creative formats for blogs.

The example that immediately came to mind as I read both Jeff and Michael talk about tabs was my fellow Aussie Yaro with his two blogs, Entrepreneurs Journey and Small Business Branding.

Yaro has tied these blogs together with the use of tabs to the left of this header (screen cap below).

Tabbed-Blog

I’ve always found that when I take an idea for a new way to present information in a blog to a blog designer that they are almost always able to find a way to do it, often using a plugin or by writing some custom code.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Victor says:

    Typepad is great, but like many people notice, once you learn the ropes and start to stretch your wings, you want something more powerful. If all you want is to get your content out there, without much hassle, then Typepad is perfect. I’m satisifed and will leave my first two blogs there.

    I’ve recently installed WordPress as well, and am having a ton of fun with it so far for my other blogs. It does offer a large number of templates, compared to like 20 for Typepad, as well as wonderful flexibility (once you get over the slight learning curve).

    Vic

  2. Amos says:

    I’d love to see blogs take the “next step,” whatever that is. However, I’m partial to clean and simple. Part of this is I’m no coder so I have to reley on the “kindness of strangers.” Anything to complicated to maintain just isn’t right for me though I want the flexibility of a WP or MT.

    One of the WP themes that seems to be trying out a different blog look and feel is Kiwi. Worth a look for the curious.

  3. Peter Cooper says:

    I think it’ll involve a lot of tagging.

    Basically, you’ll have one blogging system to which ALL of your posts go into. You’ll tag one post ‘motorcycles biking sports’, perhaps.. and another post ‘swimming sports’.. and another post ‘motorcycles maintenance’, and so on. Then.. you have a front end where you can say, I want to make a blog out of all my posts tagged with motorcycles, a blog out of all my posts tagged with ‘sports’, and so on.

    In that way, you can end up with many different blogs heavily targeted at an area, but all with overlapping content so it’s easy to populate them. At least, that’s the way I’ll be going.

  4. Excellent thoughts on tags, Peter! Really, excellent!

    I’ve decided to take a different approach to templating for two of my blogs. One has not launched yet and the other I’m fielding offers from designers so standard templating approach remains for the time being.

    Really this stagnation in templates is due to the fact that they work. In western society, readers read left to right, top to bottom and basic header/sidebar/content approaches meet this natural reading instinct. It’s not that there isn’t any other way to meet that instinct but it seems to work well, so it’s hard to break that flow.

  5. Hone Watson says:

    Well Jeff Jarvis would say that since his blog uses the most basic wordpress template out.

    Personally I couldn’t care less how the content is presented as long as its easy to read and easy to find which is what most blog templates achieve anyway.

    Its the quality of the content that counts – not how its presented.

    Wikipedia is a great example of a website that is practical, though hardly beautiful to behold.

  6. pcunix says:

    “Personally I couldn’t care less how the content is presented as long as its easy to read and easy to find which is what most blog templates achieve anyway.”

    For many years, I had a very spartan, butt-ugly site. A year or so ago I had my son-in-law redesign it because I was sick of people complaining about aesthetics. But personally, I agree with Hone.

    I do agree that too many sites look so much alike. It’s boring, but more important is that I have no visual memory of them: like the old song, they are all made out of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same.

    In contrast, when I think of Darren, I get an immediate visual image of his face, the Problogger logo, and “orange”. If you were a regular visitor at my site, you’d probably remember the guys in the boat, the link bar, and “blue”. But far too many sites just blend together with nothing to distinguish them from the next one.

  7. Mário says:

    I was a beta tester for Typepad and used the service for a year, but after that i instaled Movable Type, and more recently wordpress. I think blog software should evolve to full content management software. From the Open Source ones i Think Drupal is perhaps the one with the most solid fundation (but i am not an expert), but it’s blog features are very poor when compared with wordpress for instance. The biggest problem for me is the dificulty in changing the “look” of your site, you should not became a css, or php expert f you want to create something that doesn’t look like the next door blog. Of course that ultimatly it’s content that matters, but diferent designs also grab the attention. Open Source CMS and blogs still have a long way togo in that aspect.

  8. rich says:

    Seriously… why are all blogs 1-template only? so boring (and sometimes) aggravating :/

Trackbacks

  1. [...] via ProBlogger [...]

  2. [...] As many have responded, templates are incredibly flexible and those feature requests are all possible with today’s tools such as WordPress and MovableType. It is easy enough to set up multiple tabs which will show different types of content (thanks to categorisation) and different templates depending on the category. UX Magazine (created in Textile) is a lovely example which does exactly this. Problogger shows a nice example of a feature post area and tabbed blogs. [...]