Key features of blogs – part 1

Please note: This is the second post in a series of posts on the general topic “What is a blog?”  The series includes the following posts:
Blog or website – what’s the difference?
– Some key features of blogs : Part 1 : Creation; Structure and technical aspects
Some key features of blogs : Part 2 : Content; Community and relationship building
Some key features of blogs : Part 3 : Blogs and websites sometimes overlap; Advantages of blogs; Some concerns about blogs
Some key features of websites : Part 1: Creation; Structure and technical aspects; Content;
Some key features of websites : Part 2 : Authority; Website and blog overlaps; Advantages of websites; Some concerns about websites
– Blog or website?  Your conclusions!

Creation:

  • a blog is usually created using blogging software that creates a template into which you fill your posts and other information (though techies can choose to create their blog from scratch).  There are a great many blogging platforms.  Some popular ones are wordpress.com, wordpress.org, blogger.com, tumblr.com, typepad.com, drupal.org, movabletype.org and posterous.com.  They all have similarities but they also have some quite significant differences.  You will learn more about that in later posts.
  • blog platforms are usually designed to make it easy to create your own blog.  Nearly all the background computer language  has been done for you, so you just have to fill in a box with your article, and click a few buttons to add some special features.  It is also usually possible to add some of your own html if you want to create special features or effects.  But you can also add many interesting features with very little effort by using widgets and plugins.
  • blogging platforms started out very simply, basically just offering you a space to write posts.  Now some platforms offer so many different features that you can have pretty much anything a website has.  Therefore you should consider your future.  If you think that at some point you want to do more than just blog, choose a platform that will let you expand.
  • blog designs can be changed very easily.  So you can improve or make changes to the look of your blog quite simply.
  • you can start out with a simple, free blog, and then later if you want a more complex set-up, you can usually (but not always – so do your research) export your content, and import it into a new platform that has more features. Some platforms give you levels to make upgrading really simple.  For example, you can start with wordpress.com and then upgrade easily to wordpress.org.
  • when choosing your blog URL (internet address) and your blog title (which are very often the same, for some good reasons), you will want to definitely consider having your own domain, rather than a vigsub domain.

Structure and Technical aspects:

  • Blogs have a recognizable columnar structure.  Usually the posts are on the left side in one wide column, and extra static information is on the right side in one or two narrower columns.
  • blogs have a navigation bar at the top, under the blog title, tagline, logo, and header graphic(s).  It will list special pages (more about that coming up).
  • blog posts (articles) have a title and a date attached to them.  They are also posted in reverse-chronological order, which means the most recent post is at the top, and older posts are further down in the order in which they were posted.  You can scroll down the post page to find earlier posts; when you get to the bottom of the page, you can click on “newer posts” or “older posts” to see more.
  • you can find older posts on specific topics by: entering a topic term in the search bar; clicking on one of the category (and/or tag) labels listed in the sidebar; or, if you know the approximate date it was posted, you can click on the archives  list.
  • blogs have an RSS or similar feed that your readers can subscribe to in order to receive notice of each new posting as it occurs.
  • in the beginning, blogs were almost totally text-based posts, sometimes with a bit of clip-art included.  Now, blogs are much more versatile.  You can add video, audio, photo galleries, slide shows, podcasts.  You can integrate widgets and other tools that increase interaction.  You can link to other social media.  You can have separate static pages for your biography and other pertinent information.

Question: Are you feeling overwhelmed with all the new terminology?  Don’t be.  Click on the blue/underlined words and you’ll be taken to the glossary for simple explanations (or in some cases, to a site where you can see the term in action).  Are there other terms you don’t understand? List them in the comments section below, or contact me by email, and I will try to help you.

Tip of the day: Don’t get lost in the details of blogging and get overwhelmed.  It’s better to just get started, very simply, and develop your blog as you go.

Put it into action:  Look at 5 blogs, and see how they compare with what you have learned in this post.  What is a topic are you interested in (for example, sailing)?  In the search bar for your favorite search engine, type your search term, (ie. “sailing blogs”) and hit enter on your keyboard.  Choose 5 blogs that sound interesting, go to them, and really look at them and compare them.   Can you figure out what platform the blogger used?  How many columns; how are they arranged?  Do they use just text, or do they include audio, video, or other features?  How does the blogger help you navigate (find things; get around in) the site?  If you find a blog you really like the look of, why not tell us the name of it (and the URL) in the comment section below, and tell us what you especially like?  Or alternatively, tell us what features you would like to use in a blog if you had one of your own.

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One Response to Key features of blogs – part 1

  1. Norma, invaluable information – thanks again. Claire

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