Friday, 1 April 2011

A Look at the New View Options on Blogger

Logging on to Blogger this morning, up popped a helpful mention of a new feature that might come in handy for readers and bloggers alike - so being curious after watching a video of up coming features on Blogger Buzz not so long back, it didn't take long for me to start playing to see if they were April Fools or not - it turns out they're real :)

The new features released so far are different ways for readers to select or view your blog posts. Per the Blogger Buzz page - Blogger Buzz: Fresh new perspectives for your blog - this new way to view public blogs (when you have full feeds enabled) makes for a quicker viewing experience and will make for faster ways to view and interact with posts.

After having a look over the views I'm a little sceptical as to how much use a few of them will be. The Mosaic and Flipcard views are pretty but I don't really understand the concept behind how this would improve the viewing experience unless you read blogs like a Magpie - i.e. chasing shiny pictures. The pages are a little busy but when you do click a link it does give a clean and fresh view of the post. Maybe good for a photo only blog but I don't know of many around as people who are just displaying photos would probably use one of many social networking photo hosting sites.

The Snapshot view I kinda like but yet there seems to be one big drawback. If like me you like to add lots of images to one post - you'll end up filling the snap shot view with many 'snapshots' all linking to the same post - therefore it's use seems limited as a view for those who like to give a lot of visuals. If they could add several smaller snapshots to show all the photos of more posts on one page I think this view would prove more useful.

The Timeslide view I like a lot. The ability to view a preview of all a blog's posts on one page with quite a bit of detail to tell you what the posts are about is kinda handy - having it all squeezed onto one page without the need to click - you can just scroll through the entire blog until you find something that is of interest - I can see it being a really handy view to get a feel of a blog for the first time and to see if you want to subscribe to it. If you use sites like BlogCatalog, 20SomethingBloggers or even the likes of Twitter, it could be a useful page to send people to if you are just mentioning what your blog is about.

My favourite of the 5 views so far has to be the Sidebar view. This simply gives a sidebar with a blogs page's picture, title and amount of comments. This bar can be scrolled to go through every last post on the blog. On the main frame of the page the post selected in the sidebar is shown in full. It's simple and sleek and I think I'll be using it a lot to view and comment.

A slight concern I have about these views though is the way they work at the moment means that all your customisation within the current template you have on your blog is lost - but only in the same way this occurs if people subscribe to your RSS feed and read in a reader rather than from your blog directly. So yeah, it will just be the bare content on display... personally I have no problem with that apart from the fact some of the posts I write are laid out with my template in mind. Its no big problem though, I think it will just be a slight swing towards thinking more often about how the post will look on a blank page.

The issue though will be if people start to use these a lot, there will be a lack of connections between blogs, what I mean by that is that links to pages and other sites such as twitter/facebook/other peoples blogs etc, won't be viewed as often. Currently that happens a lot anyway since people do use external readers to view posts but it might start to impact a little more. Perhaps though the Blogger team will eventually allow some form of customisation of the views or even merge the views with the design of the blog? For instance I'd love to have that Sidebar in my actual blog design.  Just the means of having a subscribe button would be a nice update, currently people who want to subscribe to your feed won't know from just viewing in these views what your site is unless you posted a link within every last blog post which is just unrealistic.

The ability to view the blog without having to click to a 2nd page is great but how this works in regards to stats is still a mystery. I presume it's like people viewing via an RSS feed, stats won't be tracked? I could be wrong though.

Overall, I like the innovative choice these views bring and I do see how some of the them bring something new (at least to Blogger) to the blog reading experience, however I do have some doubts over how useful some of the views are in their current form. As these views are seemingly just a means to view a blog which most of us have set ways of habits of doing already (either directly from the page or a reader), I'm not sure how much people will use these streamlined views and really if it adds enough to warrant being on a separate page?

On the other hand, I think if these new view features could be incorporated into the design element of Blogger then I reckon the people at Google will be on to another winner.


  1. I'm glad you explained this. Although I read through the descriptions on Blogger, it all kind of merged together, leaving with a "Huh?" feeling. Now I get it!

  2. I thought it was a strange feature to roll out and strange that they rolled this out first. I know there are many changes on the way and I hope they're more exciting than this!



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