Why I Switched from Blogger to WordPress

Date Mon, August 3 2009

I’d like to preface this by saying basic/free versions of both services are pretty comparable in my opinion. You can make your blog, change basic settings and post your first entry in a matter of entries, with either. Both publish feeds, have limited widget support and allow you some control over appearance. In fact, basic Blogger allows more control over appearance. However, WordPress has a leg up when it comes to comments (display, spam monitoring etc) and stats. Blogger also used nonstandard “labels” instead of categories and tags; labels convert to categories in WordPress but function much more like tags in my opinion. I’d go so far as to say that even the dashboard on WordPress is easier to use but not so much that it made a difference because, when I started this blog, I went with Blogger (obviously). And set up was easy and I customized a bit.. but I wanted to do more.

Unfortunately, there is only one way you can upgrade on Blogger and that is to buy a custom domain. It offers no additional options or features, you just get your own domain. Truthfully, WordPress.com offers the same thing and calls it domain mapping. My problems arose when I took a lot at domain prices on Google and realized that GoDaddy offers them cheaper. Browsing around told me it was possible to use a GoDaddy purchased domain with Blogger’s custom domain program and it shouldn’t be too difficult.

But it was.

I bought the domain, changed settings and waited but nothing seemed to happen. It took a while for it to go into effect and I had to sign up for other Google services and contact them before it finally worked. I kept running into this error: Another blog is already hosted at this domain. Still, I had my domain.

Sort of.

I constantly felt like owning the domain was a joke because Blogger’s custom domain set up crippled my domain. Uploading files still went to some generic Blogger server, not my own space (and there was no file management at all). I still was hosting my layout files on Photobucket because (and this may be partially due to GoDaddy’s convoluted hosting set up), I couldn’t figure out how to use hosting and Blogger’s custom domain. This was especially irritating when I wanted to switch layouts. So while I could do more with my blog’s appearance on Blogger than on WordPress.com, I had to take more steps to do it.

I also found that I was gravitating toward the style of layout which is really common on Blogger and – I know I may get some flack for it – this style is a lot less appealing than WordPress themes overall. Many blogs on Bloggers are bloated, sloppy, and amateur in appearance. It’s no surprise because the basic layout options they supply you with give this impression from the get-go. Few blogs really go above and beyond that and I was no exception. An example of an exception, if you’re wondering, is BloggerBluster.

But it’s really no surprise that layouts are so bloated because so is the code. Working with Blogger templates was frustrating, partially because I simply wasn’t as used to it and my coding style differed from the original creator’s, but mostly because Blogger uses a lot of pseudo code (and always has) for its themes. Besides basic code, there is code that sets up the drag and drop frame within the dashboard (including sections), where widgets are edited, and the widgets themselves. If you’re willing to wade into the code, you can hard code things into your layout like JavaScript or tag clouds or even to remove the ridiculous Title/image widget from the header.

It’s further difficult because miles of code are crammed into one textarea and there’s no syntaxual highlighting or handy tabbing. A fully featured WordPress blog (like this one now it, not just with the domain mapping) would break up that one page of code into several, more manageable pages which I would be able to edit in the text editor of my choice. As it is, it’s difficult to find specific codes/places in Blogger templates quickly.

None of this is to say that it’s impossible or even that you can’t become more proficient than I was but I didn’t even want to try it, the code was that messy. I constantly wanted to convert the code to a cleaner, more WordPress style which I suppose is somewhat possible but difficult whether I start from scratch or use a premade theme. I would still have to include all of Blogger’s made up code, of course but Google’s Blogger help does have this page which illustrates some template tags. In my opinion, it’s not nearly as helpful as the WordPress Codex (and I even find that confusing still). In fact, Blogger help has always been annoying. Half the time, the links to forums and FAQs were down. The section on Google contains some outdated information, too.

If you feel my pain, I am glad to say you get it. If you want total control over your blog and the option to use all features of a domain you paid for and own, you’re better off buying hosting as well and using a full service blogging script like WordPress (or even something else) rather than using Blogger or WordPress.com where limitations abound. Had I started with a hosted WordPress site, this would probably be a similar post about how I moved to my own hosting with a full featured blogging script because I just need more than hosted offers.

2 Responses

  1. autie August 7 2009 @ 1:35 am

    Funny, I just switched from WordPress to Blogger….WP is so much harder to work with, IMHO

  2. Cole August 7 2009 @ 12:41 pm

    I think initially, the switch will be difficult, yes. Is there anything specifically which is hard for you?

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