Are you a hobby or a business blogger? Have you been wondering how to choose a blogging platform that’s right for you?
Blogging is becoming a very popular and important method for individuals and brands to communicate their message and attract new visitors to their websites.
As you try to figure out which platform or content management system is right for you, here are four important considerations to keep in mind.
Hosted or stand-alone platforms
With a hosted platform you will not need to install any programs, get a web hosting account or buy a domain name.
All you have to do is sign up, set up your own blog account and start blogging. No customization is needed apart from choosing a color, template and theme. Typepad is a good example of a hosted platform.
With a stand-alone platform such as WordPress you will need to download and install software programs in order to create your website and blog.
The good thing with a stand-alone platform is that it affords you the flexibility to customize and tweak your template further and to install many functional and user-friendly tools that make for a sweeter blogging experience.
Ask yourself, “What do I want my blog to do for me?” Do you want to focus on writing, or on showcasing pictures or video? Are you going to need more sophisticated tools to support your needs?
If you’re looking for very basic functionality, Tumblr is a good option to consider. It is very easy to use but also has a limited choice of templates and widgets. However you will be able to post text, pictures and videos in simple, un-sophisticated layouts.
Both versions of WordPress – the self-hosted WordPress.org and WordPress.com which hosts a blog for you – are very popular. The latter provides basic blogging functionality but not the advanced tools and plug-ins that make for a versatile platform.
But WordPress.org is just the opposite. It offers numerous third-party tools, widgets and themes that support more advanced features on your blog platform.
Blogger is also a versatile platform which lets you focus on the ‘writing’ part of your blog. While Typepad gives you all the functionality you would ever need on a hosted platform, it also provides an unparalled user-interface with social media servcies such as Feedburner, Twitter and Facebook.
Ease of use and technical support
Are you comfortable exploring new widgets, plug-ins and templates? Or are you the type that prefers to focus on writing your blog rather than fiddling in the back-end of your platform?
Typepad and WordPress are both user-friendly environments with discussion forums that provide a strong support system. They also come with numerous tools and plug-ins to enhance the user’s experience. Most are easy to install and don’t usually require much coding experience (apart from initial set-up).
On the other hand, Blogger does not have a very good support system and might be difficult to use if you don’t have strong technical skills. However if you enjoy experimenting and have the time to spend figuring out new tools, then Blogger is an option to consider.
Layout and Design
Whether you’re writing text or showcasing pictures, you want an attractive, easy-to-navigate platform that will appeal to new visitors and encourage them to stick around.
WordPress and Typepad are both excellent for design, attractive layouts, easy navigation. While Typepad offers a more advanced navigation system, WordPress gives you the option to tag, categorize and sub-categorize your posts which encourages users to browse through a huge amount of content.
Blogger has an old-fashioned navigation system which makes it very difficult to find content within the site. You practically have to scroll through each page one by one. Tumblr also scores very low in this area because it lacks good navigation options, search functions, categories and design features.
Choosing the right platform for your content needs is not a straight-foward decision. With so many options at your fingertips, you want to make sure that you do your homework and pick something that you will be comfortable working with.
For further reading on this subject, I recommend that you read this tutorial, which digs deeper into the selection process of blog platforms.
Over to you?
Have you picked a blog platform yet? How did you select the right one for you?