Oh well, Google is finally paying some attention to its vastly overrated blogging service, Blogger aka Blogspot (where my Cargo Cult Medicine blog is hosted). Blogger has come up with “Dynamic Views”, 7 new and snazzy ways of making your blog look so very web 2.0ey.
I have just started using the Dynamic Views on CCM and based on the experience of the first few days, here are the things that I learnt:
1. Fresh, Snazzy Looks
Boosted by its zillion users, Blogger has always taken for granted the fact that it looked very boring. Its interface and templates stayed unchanged for years until this year. And the changes though rung in, often made little impact for real users like me. However, with the rolling out of these HTML5 or whatever hi-techy stuff these templates are supposedly built up on, Blogger has entered a new era: of being cool
2. Reader can sort through the templates
OCD readers like me often wish that all the blogs we read were of the same looks so that we did not have to spend time worrying about how the bells and whistles of every blog work. I know. Sometimes I click a link and go to a wonderful looking blog and end up playing with a hamster on it instead of reading the blog itself! If you are weird like me, this is something you are going to like. You can change the views to whichever view you find suits you. I prefer the sidebar looks – it helps me sort through the different posts quickly and scan through the titles at a rapid go. If it’s a photoblog, the best way to go is with Flipcard.
3. Infinite scrolling
This is yet another improvement, says the Twitter addled segment of my brain. While this may bring the irritating *page loading* blinker, it is a worthy trade off, in my opinion. Although clicking older posts and loading pages may have been a good thing for page views and ads served, infinite scrolling definitely puts the focus back on the readers (which is what it blogging is about, anyways, if I am to believe the big shots)!
4. Cool placing of Ads
Now when you click to read a post, it zooms in from the main page and opens up like a pop up or something (I am not very techy, so I am sure there is a better way to explain this). I think it is cool. But what is cooler is the fact that the annoying google ads are no longer served on the main page, sandwiched between two posts in an incoherent and ugly manner. And if you were using a ported template (wordpress look alikes) then unless it was ad-themed, you were royally screwed by the google ads that would run rampant over your template.
No longer so with dynamic views. If you click open a post then the ad shows up in a neat little sidebar of its own. Now as it is I never served too many ads on the blog, so I would not know whether or not this applies to the blogs of people who have monetized every free pixel on their blog… but, then again, it works for me.
5. No Sidebars
Now this is the first major disadvantage of the Dynamic Views. I love me some bells and whistles and widgets on the sidebar. But the new look templates do not seem to have any sidebars. Either that or I am too technically retarded to find out the way to put this feature on. If there is a way this dynamic views can have a sidebar, do let me know, I want my bells and whistles back.
The other way is, of course, open a page and put in all the most important widgets there. Like the email subscription or sign up page and stuff… stuff which is absolutely essential. No making hamsters run!
6. No headers (?)
I spent a lot of time pondering what might be the header for this blog once upon a time when I created it. Now it seems like with the dynamic views, the option for layout editing and header image insertions is gone. Once again, I might be very wrong, since I am not a very tech-adapted person, but the truth remains, so are most of the bloggers anyways. Again, a plea: if anyone knows how to insert the headers, please let me know; my blog called, it wants its header back!
7. Good handling of images
The new dynamic looks templates are fantastic for blogs which are image heavy. Especially the ones like flipcard are brilliant for this purpose. Now my blog is text heavy, so I am not really sure how well this will go down, but hopefully, there will be a compromise. Or maybe this is google’s way of telling me to put in MORE images into my blogs!
8. Social Buttons well placed
One of the things I have agonized over have been where to place the social sharing buttons. I had a wordpress look-alike theme up a few days ago and had to spend 3 hours before I realized the futility of trying to get the buttons in the place I wanted them. Dynamic views, however, puts the buttons exactly where they should be. Centered. At the bottom!
9. A Smart Intro Video:
Google is very good with a lot of things. Making how-to videos is not one of them. I know this is not something about Dynamic Views per se, but thanks to the rolling out of this new template system, Google’s standards of making Intro vidz has gone up several notches. That is a win, in my book. Here, take a look if you haven’t already seen the intro vid for the Dynamic Views. Trance music is always a crowd puller. Seems like finally Google have got it right!
10. Something new to play with
As bloggers we tend to get bored with stuff if they are not moved around and the cobwebs are not dusted off periodically. With blogger, it was years since we had anything to warm our hands on. Thanks to the recent spate of “improvements” we now have several things to try and experiment with. This HTML5/Dynamic Views thingy looks a pretty rad way to shake things up for us.
And like all people with a shorter attention span, I must say I am hooked!
P.S. detractors say that this looks mighty close to Google+ (while the Gmail has also started to look a little like that). Is this the beginning of the end for variety?