I always look at other peoples blogs and see other features that I like. When I was at the Blogher conference I asked a table of women one morning what is the best blogging platform. They all said WordPress- self hosted. As the day went on and I went to a blogging technology talk, basically how to mess with your blog. I saw one group working with WordPress and another with blogger and Typepad. These 3 seem to be the biggies. I really liked what I saw on WordPress, so I have been thinking about making that change, especially when I found out that it really is possible to transfer your archives. I sat in on the Blogger discussion and learned a few things about the template coding. I told my daughter about this and the next thing I knew she was searching the internet for xml blog templates and putting them into a test blog, then adjusting the code by trial and error. This is both fascinating and incredibly frustrating. After hours of making little changes and previewing to see what happens where in the layout we realized a trip to Borders was in order and bought two books on CSS, which is the language of the template code in new Blogger. My daughter is really interested in learning how to design websites etc. I want to know but I get a little overwhelmed by it, her young mind works double time to mine.
We found a template design we both liked, copied the code and put it in the template of a test blog and played with it for hours over a couple days. I liked the idea of tabs at the top where I could organize things, and de-clutter the sidebar somewhat. The big problem we ran into happened with the sidebar. All the sidebar content went to the bottom of the page below the posts if there were more than two items in it. So I ended up making a tab for links as a temporary solution to reduce the amount of things in the side bar. We pulled out the books and poured through them and after some more trial and error changed one word in the code and the sidebar content miraculously went to the top of the page where it is supposed to be.
Nina is already trying out more things and has found a way to make a photo change every time the page is refreshed on her blog. Creating a three column blog design is next and playing with the width of the blog page and the columns with in it.
Messing with the blog design is starting to not feel so scary. The important thing is to download and save your original template and then save a new template copy with every modification that you make and like.