Do You Need A Different Blogger Template

I change blog templates every 5 minutes but one simple truth seems to remain. Some templates really do feel better, look better and make more money than others. I have no idea why that is or how to master these aesthetics. I have come to one conclusion that web design is really an art with definite parameters. For example there is a million ways to do a blog. Some people may have the posts in little boxes so people can scan the last 100 headlines and the first 200 words of the article, some templates dynamically feed the blog content to the main page, while others just list content with minimal navigational hyper links.

The thing I look for in templates is how well do they engage the reader. A great template should ad minutes to how long people hang out on your website.

Some things to avoid that I am proudly guilty of are clutter, slow pages, lack of flow, underutilized bottom of the page, ads that shock and awe but do not convert, fonts that do not feel good to read, not enough space between the elements, not enough subtlety, overlapping elements, hidden comment forms, among countless other issues.

Any site can always be improved even the best. We must also remember that if a blog is successful it may not actually be the template that made it that way. Many of these sites do have public releases of their template because of the exposure the site gave to the template. But in many cases the template usually feels familiar and dated.

For blogger these challenges are especially prevalent. Blogger looks and feels different than Wordpress which is the common blogging medium of probloggers. Blogger loads differently, behaves differently, and looks differently even if the image we see is exactly the same. I could not tell you why this is but we must keep a few things in mind:

1. Certain widgets from a few sites have been known on occasion to slow the site to a halt. You may want to figure out which widgets, or banners do this and strip them off immediately.

2. Consider customizing the template so people can not immediately recognize it as the template that 500 other people have. This may not matter if you have a unique template or honestly you do not really care. But tweaking the template seems to be part of the process that many of the pros do.

3. If the top of your template is a disaster people will flee immediately. The old saying in the world of advertising is throw ads above the fold for money. Unfortunately this can also drive people away. Some people do other things above the fold that hurt their site like putting 900 page slowing horizontal widgets or having red page error script.

4. It can help to just take a decent temple and focus on your blogging and let the background evolve with the blog. Many people rush to stack a template with too much stuff and do not realize that the template out of box was probably pretty optimal.

5. Incorporating social and content sharing icons into your template are fun and fancy ways to make an impression. After all the only reason to blog these days is for Twitter followers. Just kidding.

6. Weaving your brand into your template can be an especially pronounced tipping point. I guess if you are just article marketing nothing really matters but google. On the other hand if you really want to impress people it never hurts to try.

7. Where is branding headed? Unfortunately the whole look and feel of online branding has changed drastically in the last 6 months. In blogs people have really been pushing content fore ward and in business sites people are trying to take out words to increase conversions. Brand icons have been squeezed, changed shape and moved to different strategic locations.

8. Some templates are timeless. For example the Minima template for blogger has been around forever but people always seem to like it. I consider it one of the most like able blogger templates. One issue is the Nav bar. I am not sure where blogger stands these days in the terms on this. If you remove it from the minima you may need to have a blogger icon in the site to keep promoting their brand.

9. People hate black templates, but I don't. I believe much like many people wear black shirts, black templates are increasingly comming into style. Whenever I click on a link and the site goes black I get immediately impressed and spend a lot of time on it. If it is a blogger blog then I subscribe.

10. The blog incorporation of Friendfeed is the newest trend. To be honest I have a hard time with friend feed. My fingers burned trying to subscribe to people who have subscribed to my feed. Many of the navigational elements are daunting and the community is much like facebook in that it takes longer to get to the bottom of things. On the other hand Friendfeed represents the future. It is the receipt of Twitter especially and also blogs and other social media that can be annotated. Friendfeed has a big following among the professional crowd in ways that would make Linked in jealous. Some people liken Friendfeed to a powerful Twitter app for people who want to connect with people and gain real contacts. One thing is for sure, the avatars on friend feed are much bigger than Twitter or Facebook so I definitely take them more seriously.

11. Incorporating other feeds, syndicated content, feed catchers and other engines into your blog. I am seeing more excellent use of technology on blogs to bring together the best of the web content around the niche. This frees up the author to annotate this content below for example and offer an opinion. If Guy Kawasaki says that great blogs are ones that link to great stuff then why not just get a content catcher and do this automatically in your sleep.

12. Discovering what you are really about. The branding effort is continuous but the best brands online continue to be just regular people on a blog. There are too many fake people online for the purposes of marketing shady deals that just being ourselves does a lot of good for the business brand.

13. There is no template secret. Many pro bloggers for instance only have a bought custom template on their money site. Lately this has been evolving into just using hot premium themes that are widespread but cost money because they have SEO properties. I have seen countless bloggers launch new projects on free templates just to keep costs down until they establish how profitable it is. Another consideration is that if you are creating a network of sites linking into your main site that it may be a waste burning through millions of dollars on the planet templates when your sun site is really where the action happens. I am all for free.

14. It is best practice not to move attribution links. If there really is a page rank penality then that is probably a reasonable payment to the builder of the template. There are plenty of page rank 8 blogs that link out liberally. There may even be legality issues especially on business sites where the template forms a major part of the brand.

15. Many blogger templates have hidden customizations like the page elements can go certain places. You may not know about this until you move it over and the area between the header and the content highlights, or right above the posts highlights. Some pro blogger templates also do this between columns where people can squeeze in extra columns. Always learn the features of your template because in them you can unlock the mystery of blog money. Sounds good right?

16. It is very easy to upload templates onto blogger. If you see squares in the code you have done something wrong. But do not fear if you see the words widgets deleted in red. This scared me so much I destroyed a site. It may help to save your widgets somewhere else because they usually do get destroyed. If you destroyed a widget and want it back try reverting to the theme that the widget was on. It may magically come back.

One blogger template site that has interested me lately is Our Blog Templates.


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