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September 26, 2011

Press Preferences – Blogging Software Explained

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One of the biggest advantages that the web offers is the relative ease of developing tools catering to the needs of a particular user set. For every ten people who want to perform a specific task, there will be ten ways for them to do it because each will have ten different needs to address. Blogging software is an excellent example of this phenomenon as there have been numerous blogging programs that have arisen since the advent of Livejournal in the late 1990s.

Understanding a few of the more common blog software programs can help any blogger make an informed choice about their particular needs and get their message out in the most efficient way.

Livejournal

Livejournal is the earliest, albeit not the simplest, of the blog creation programs introduced. It began as an early form of social media networking software; the emphasis was on friends sharing their journals online with one another. As such, it has a multitude of features aimed at creating a mutually-supporting network of watchers and friends.

There are groups that can be joined and monitored for content relating to the blog’s interest, which is a key tool in generating involved commentary. Similarly, it is easy to subscribe to specific blogs and monitor them on the “friends” list for the same kind of content. The Livejournal software also is used by a number of blogs, such as Deadjournal and Insanejournal, and was used by Greatestjournal before GJ went under. Thus, a great many people already are familiar with its functionality and there is a large user base to tap into.

On the other hand, it isn’t the simplest system to figure out, with some friends functionality buried under several layers of interface. Additionally, it suffers from a certain juvenile reputation, being firmly associated with high school students in many minds. The audience is still big, but it has its limits.

Blogger

Blogger is one of the most commonly used blogging programs out there. It has the advantage of being very simple and more or less omnipresent. It’s become so common to use that the .blogspot portion of a url has become inextricably associated with blogs of all types, be they serious or more casual in nature.

The simplicity of Blogger is its strongest advantage. It doesn’t bury the user in options, making the process of setting up and getting a blog moving very easy. Blogs can be tagged and disseminated on short notice, and there are a number of templates available to customize a blog’s appearance.

On the other hand, the simplicity of the interface is a slightly shallow concept. Blogs can be tagged, but they can’t be categorized within the blog itself. This makes organizing a Blogger blog a bit difficult. Going further, templates cannot be edited easily — doing so requires CSS and HTML knowledge. Any business hiring a blog writer to use the Blogger software will need to stipulate that CSS and HTML editing knowledge are a must as well.

WordPress

WordPress is growing in popularity as a blog platform because it offers a compromise between simple but limited options like Blogger and the more robust yet incredibly complicated options such as Movable Type. WordPress is essentially a word processor built into a publishing package.

A whole slate of editing options are available for writing the blog itself, such as font and formatting adjustments, and the option to edit in visual style or to go right to the HTML if the blog writer is comfortable with that. There are options to make a quick post with very little adjustment as well as options to make a more complex offering with jumpcuts, embedded video and elaborate pictures. Also, the templates can be adjusted without knowledge of HTML, allowing for much more customization.

Moveable Type

This is an unusual entry into the software. It is very well known and incredibly powerful for people who know what they’re doing. However, it is also notoriously difficult to install properly and even harder to use to its full effect. MT offers many options for customization, but then so does being able to program in computer languages such as HTML and C++. This is an option not for the beginner, but for someone already experienced with blogging and computer language in general who wants full control of every aspect of his or her blogging experience.

Self Made

This is a bit of a trick in that it isn’t explicitly a blogging software program. Instead, some users do elect to simply make posts directly onto their front page using the basic text software of their site. This has a certain simplicity to it, minimizing the need for complicated installs. However, it also has an unfinished look about it, and severely limits the options of what can be accomplished, and as such is an option more to be avoided than embraced.

As a final note, it is fairly easy to get a hold of these blogging programs. Before committing to any one of them, a user should create a “dummy” account for each and try a few sample posts to see how they like working with the software. This will make the entire process a bit more complicated up front, but will ensure that the company gets the tool it most needs.


Enzo F. Cesario is an online branding specialist and co-founder of Brandsplat, a digital content agency. Brandsplat creates blogs, articles, videos and social media in the “voice” of our client’s brand. It makes sites more findable and brands more recognizable. For the free Brandcasting Report go to http://www.BrandSplat.com/ or visit our blog at http://www.iBrandCasting.com/.

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