Thursday, September 1, 2011

The New Blogger Interface

Blogger was founded in 1999. Since that time the Blogger dashboard has seen only one major change, that in 2006. This included the ability to edit templates by dragging and dropping elements, as well as providing new options for web feeds. In 2009 a few more changes were introduced, including time stamping at the time of publication rather than the creation of the post (personally, I prefer the latter), the ability to edit links in Compose mode, and a brand new Preview dialogue. Over all, however, the Blogger dashboard has changed very little. That is until now.

Yesterday Blogger rolled out its new interface, which it is giving its members a chance to try out. In theory, at least, the new interface is supposed to be easier and more efficient to use than the old one. As is often the case, however, the new interface is actually neither easier to use nor is it necessarily more efficient than the old Blogger dashboard.

To show you an example of how much less efficient the new Blogger dashboard is than the old one, below is a screenshot of the old Blogger dashboard:

You will notice  that New Post, Edit Post, Comments, Settings, Design, Monetise, and Stats are all easily accessible by links, which are clearly visible. Below is the new Blogger dashboard.

You will notice that there are no links for New Post, Edit Post, Comments, Setting, et. al. These are accessible only by clicking the drop down menu by the little Post icon (the icon with a picture of a pencil). Now this seems neither easier nor more efficient to me for two reasons. First, it may not occur to everyone to click on the little drop down menu to find New Post, Comments, et. al. I was able to find it in about a minute, but I am not sure everyone is going to find it as quickly as I did. Second, it is just common sense to me that it is much faster to click on a link that is right there on the page than it is to click on a drop down menu, then click on the link. 

Of course, once one finds the links to New Post, Comments, Settings, et. al., the new Blogger interface isn't too much different from the old one. Below is a screen shot of the old Blogger interface after clicking on the Posts link.

Below is a screen shot of the new Blogger interface after one has clicked on the Posts link.

You'll notice the only real difference is that Posts, Comments, Settings, et. al. are now listed on the side rather than the top. To a degree this would seem to really make no difference, except for one thing. On the new interface one has to scroll down to see the entire list. On the old one they are all right there at the top.

So far my complaints about the new Blogger interface have been very minor. If these were my only objections to the new interface I would be willing to give it a chance, even if I feel it is harder and less efficient to use. That having been said, I do have two major complaints with the new interface. The first is the way templates are handled. As near as I can tell, there is no means by which one can edit the raw html of one's blog template. For someone with a customised blog template as myself, this makes editing one's template nearly impossible. This is a major oversight on Blogger's part and one that I hope they will correct. Much of what makes Blogger superior to some other blog hosting services is the sheer amount of customisation one can do to his or her blog template. 

My second  big complaint with the new Blogger interface is that it is all done up in blinding, mind numbing, corporate white. As with most web sites that are done entirely in white, I find myself having to adjust the brightness on my monitor simply to be able to see (I happen to very sensitive to light). This is made even worse iin that some of the print (as you can see in the top image of the new Blogger dashboard) is a light grey, making it very hard to read! While I cannot say that my complaints about the new Blogger dashboard being harder and less efficient to use than the old one are major ones , I have a very big objection to the colour scheme of the new Blogger dashboard. Quite frankly, it is one of the worst colour schemes I have ever seen on a web site.

Now I do have to say that there are some good things about the new Blogger interface. There is a new Overview section, letting you know how much traffic you have had at your blog with a little graph, as well as the usual number of blog posts and number of followers a blog has. The new post editor also has a big advantage over the old one--it expands to fit one's post! For someone who can make very long blog posts like me, this is a veritable godsend (if only it wasn't all in white).  Another good thing about the new Blogger interface is that the post button is on nearly every single page, so that one can start a new post from almost anywhere on the new Blogger interface. This also seems to me like a handy thing to have.

Over all I cannot say this is a Facebook level overhaul where a good deal of functionality is lost. In many respects the new Blogger interface is not that much different from the old Blogger interface. The problem is that it seems to me that the new Blogger interface sacrifices too much in the way of ease of use and efficiency and far too much in terms of functionality with regards to blog templates. It also happens to be blindingly, mind numblingly, corporate white. I think the best course for Blogger right now is to simply incorporate the Overview section, the ability of the post editor to expand, and including a post button on every single page into the old Blogger dashboard. This would improve the old Blogger dashboard while not sacrificing ease of use or functionality.

UPDATE: I was just informed by someone that when you click on Template>Design, there is an HTML button beneath the screen shot of one's blog. I could have sworn it was not there yesterday! At any rate, it seems that it is possible to edit the HTML of one's template on the new Blogger interface. Of course, the new interface is still done up in blinding, mind numbing, corporate white!


Little Gothic Horrors said...

Oh, this news has filled me with dread! I'm somewhat technology challenged and have a customised template... sigh!

Mercurie said...

Well, they now have an "edit html" button under Templates! I didn't see it yesterday. I must have been something they just fixed today!

Little Gothic Horrors said...

Oh, well that's a relief, at least. I'm still a bit sceptical about the changes though. I suppose we will just have to wait and see how things go.

Thanks for your comment on my "Mad Monster Party" post. In case you didn't see the reply, we just don't have the same tradition of Christmas movies in Australia (probably because it's summertime), so I have seen very little in the way of Rankin/Bass productions. By the time I saw Rudolph I was probably too old to form a nostalgic attachment to it.