Blogger vs. Wordpress - a comparison of blog platforms

>> Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The recent blog redesign made me think a bit of the differences – advantages and drawbacks – of Blogger (blogspot.com) vs. Wordpress. Here are a few more comments. It is important to keep in mind that I am talking about Wordpress.com, i.e. the free version of Wordpress, hosted by Wordpress (don't confuse this with Wordpress.org, which offers the same platform, but without the hosting). Also, I am not trying to make any exhaustive comparison, just a few comments.

Both Wordpress and Blogger offer two excellent and completely free blogging platforms. Both can be “enhanced” if you pay a bit extra with e.g. personal domain names (url:s).

Perhaps the easiest thing to see in terms of differences is that it is easier to get a nice looking, well designed blog with Wordpress (Wordpress.com). This is mainly because in Wordpress you have more themes to choose from and they are generally better designed than the Blogger ones. In Blogger most themes look rather terrible.

On the other hand, you have much more flexibility in Blogger to customize a theme once you’ve installed it, changing colours, fonts etc. Wordpress does not allow you to tinker with the themes.

One of the things I discovered in my Wine Picture Blog redesign project was that it wasn’t actually all that difficult to install a new, nice-looking theme (I was almost going to say Wordpress-looking) theme. In Blogger you can install new themes, either from Blogger, or ones that you’ve done yourself, or from a third party. You can’t do that in Wordpress. This, in my view, overcomes one of the main disadvantages with Blogger (the sometimes childish built-in theme collection).

Another big difference is that with Wordpress you can build sites, not just blogs. Perhaps you can do that with Blogger too, but I have not seen it. This means that a Wordpress blog/site doesn’t have to look like a blog with new posts in a time chronology. You can build a site with static pages and a menu structure without it looking the least like a blog. Or you can do a mix of the two. This is a very good way of building a simple site. It does take some figuring out to understand exactly how to do the static pages and the front page, but once you’ve done that it is really easy to build the site. Here are two sites I’ve done in Wordpress:

This is also reflected in that Wordpress has a very different “back office” or management and admin pages than Blogger.

In Wordpress you get some built-in stats. It has its own statistics package that is part of their control panel. But it’s very basic. On the other hand, there’s no such thing at all in Blogger (of course, they want you to use Google Analytics instead). But what you really should do, both in Wordpress and in Blogger is install a separate statistics solution. I use two which are both very good: StatCounter, which is free with a limited log history and costs a small amount if you want to store more logs; and Google Analytics, which is free but a bit more difficult to understand. I strongly recommend using a stats package so you can learn from who your visitors are.

There’s an annoying limitation in Wordpress: it does not accept flash embeds. So you can’t pick up an “embed code” and put it on a Wordpress blog. On this blog (Wine Pictures) all the photo slide shows are flash embeds (from my Photoshelter BKWine Photography site). They are impossible to use on Wordpress.com. They say it is for security reasons. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is a way to encourage you to upgrade to a paying service. One of the most common flash embeds today are YouTube videos. In principle you can’t embed those on Wordpress either, but they’ve done a ‘fix’ so you can actually embed YouTube videos via a video module (that is built in). Quite an annoying limitation. Blogger has no such qualms about flash embeds.

Another big difference is what you can put in the side bars (the narrow column(s) to the left or right of the main column). Both Blogger and Wordpress have some “standard” modules that you can put in the side bars. Blogger calls them gadgets. Some call them widgets. The choice is limited on Wordpress but on Blogger you can basically put whatever you want in the side bars, in addition to the wide variety of standard ‘gadgets’. On this aspect Blogger is definitely a winner.

One more limitation in Wordpress.com is that they don't allow you to embed "commercial" links, for example product links to Amazon. So if you're an Amazon associate you can't publish product widget or links to the Amazon site. To do that on Wordpress you have to pay extra.

If I would make some kind of conclusion it would be to recommend Blogger, since Blogger is easier to use for the novice but it also lets the code-savvy person do much more sophisticated things with it (e.g. it gives you total access to the template code and css).

On the other hand, if you are looking for something that lets you build more of a “site” than a blog then I’d suggest Wordpress.com is for you.

But what is really the best option is to try both and see what you like best. Both are free, both give you the possibility to do unlimited testing and see if it turns out the way you want it.

Go ahead!

What do you think? What advantages and drawbacks do you see in the Blogger and Wordpress?

10 comments:

Wink Lorch Wednesday, February 10, 2010 11:13:00 am  

Great article, very useful, Per and congratulations on the new look blog - especially like the 2 columns on the right, which I imagine are useful.

I have 2 blogs, one on each and agree with much of what you say above about the limitations of Wordpress.com over Blogger (in terms of widgets and affiliate links etc). However, I do find Wordpress.com has the edge for someone like me who is not familiar with coding etc. and wants to make a decent looking blog. In particular WP.com is much better for uploading more than one picture into a post, in terms of positioning, captions and links. In fact adding links (to open in another window for example) is also much easier on WP. And finally, as I found just now, WP has a much easier facility for making comments - if you make just one mistake on Blogger with your ID - it's lost really easily as happened to me just now and I know the system annoys other people using Blogger.

Per and Britt Wednesday, February 10, 2010 11:36:00 am  

Wink,
Glad you like the new design. The 3rd column is really useful. Could also be useful for ads for those who wants that.

Good points on some other advantages in WP, links and images. Agree on those.

I've never experienced the problems you describe on commenting so I'm not sure what that's about.
-P

antociano Wednesday, February 10, 2010 1:51:00 pm  

I choosed WP long time ago because I need a self hosted solution.
Why do soy can't put embeded flash?
Hiere is an example of one, you can do it using a plug in.
http://bit.ly/9b9IOw
Hope this help for the other 2 blogs.
Regards,

Per and Britt Wednesday, February 10, 2010 2:28:00 pm  

Antociano,

I think you missed an important point: I specifically said I talk about Wordpress.COM, the free, NOT self-hosted version.

What you use is different: you use the WP software but you host it on your own server (or GoDaddy's or some other hoster's). So you don't use the Wordpress.com service.

If you do that then flash is not a problem for WP.

My comparison was ONLY for the NOT-self-hosted free blog platforms. Which is what many start with, until they want/need more control. (And many also stay with.)

-P

canvas Wednesday, August 18, 2010 4:04:00 am  

I mostly use Blogger and some time word-press but word-press are most popular.
Canvas Prints uk

Timothy Matias Sunday, October 03, 2010 1:59:00 am  

I can see why Blogger might be considered easier to use (although being tech savvy to begin with I couldn't discern any difference), but the primary reason why I went with Wordpress is because Wordpress themes are far more professional and elaborate than Blogger themes out of the box, and even though I know how to code, I don't like to mess with it.

If I wanted to change the theme coding, I probably would go all out and create my own Wordpress.org server (just three easy steps), where I could have complete creative control over my blog/site/etc. As you already know, WP.org beats both Blogger and WP.com hands-down.

I think that the main advantage of blogger is that it allows the end-user to get their hands dirty without getting their hands dirty. In other words, users are able to customize the site with code that they don't even know what it means.

I can understand why WP.com won't let you do this, for security reasons:

(1) People who used code in myspace resulted in millions of profiles bloated down with ugly and flashy animations that just annoyed people and killed most of myspace's precious bandwidth. WP wouldn't want this.

(2) Adobe flash is an extremely high security risk and causes instabilities, as the code is poorly produced and security updates are slow to be released. Apple deliberately took support for flash out because over 90% of their tech support is being wasted on flash-related crashes.

Per and Britt, BKWine Sunday, October 03, 2010 11:10:00 am  

Timothy, that sounds about right. Re. Flash one can think what one wants about it but it is a reality and you can't just hide away from it. Better to find a way to live with it and use it wisely. For example, this blog would be impossible without flash. All Today's Wine Photo posts contain a Photoshelter flash widget.

Christine Speno Wednesday, March 02, 2011 7:01:00 pm  

Thanks for sharing your experience with both platforms. I blog on both platforms and am still learning the ropes of Wordpress, but I can see that it has a much more professional look to it!

Thanks and I hope you will visit me!

Jaycee Adams Thursday, March 03, 2011 9:10:00 pm  

I've spotted two mistakes in your article. First, for the past few months, Blogger DOES allow you to have up to 10 static pages. And second, since July last year, Blogger DOES provide basic statistics and information about your readers. You're still better off with a for-pay solution, but they're not bad to get your feet wet.

Also, I don't know how Wordpress does this, but being a part of Google's shop is a good thing, in that you get integrated into Google's other toys, not least of which is Gmail and Picassa.

Adwords and Amazon are also easily added.

Just Gyan Monday, April 18, 2011 10:01:00 am  

WOW!so many comments on a singles post...anyways
I think blogger as a platform is much simpler and is perfect for small/large scale blogging. Plus it is google product and thus reach out to google users (many in number) is easier.
Few of the critical differences are listed here - http://www.gyandope.co.cc/2011/02/comparison-between-wordpress-and.html

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