Archive for : May, 2015

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Getting under the hood – Modify settings of your blogger blog

In some of the previous posts, we took a look at how to start up with a blogger blog, and how to make some changes to your blogger blog, after selecting a suitable template for your blog. This time around, we will get under the hood, to further modify some key settings for your blogger blog. This time around, we will be using the Settings page in your blogger blog;s dashboard. This page hosts a number of tabs, which in turn contain key settings for tweaking some features of your blogger blog. From changing the blog’s title or the url altogether, to changing the number of posts visible on the homepage, to changing how the posts and comments are visible on the blog. This section contains a lot of settings you will definitely need to be in control of your new blog. So, without any further ado, let us dive deep into the settings page.

Blogger Dashboard - Settings(Basic)

Blogger Dashboard – Settings(Basic)

Shown above is the Basic settings page. This page allows you to make some changes to your blog’s title, it’s description (a small introduction about your blog, displayed in the page header of your blog, underneath the blog’s name, then it’s privacy settings, which lets you change whether the blog is added to blogger’s blog listings, and whether search engine bots can access/crawl it. Apart from these, under the Sub-section Publishing, you can modify the url of your blogger blog, and alternatively add up a custom domain name, you purchased. We have done a post on how to add up a custom domain name for your blogger blog. You can take a look at the post here.

Further below, the Permissions sub-section allows you to add members to your blog, useful for those who are in a collaborative partnership for blogging, also, helpful when you intend to allow guest authors “guest post” blogposts on your blog. You can provide different levels of access to people, using their email addresses, which,  once done, will send a confirmation mail to the person asking him/her to accept the role, of Author or Admin. Moving further down, there is something named Blog Readers, which lets you set the privacy settings of your blog, which decides whether your blog is visible and accessible by everyone, just a few selected members handpicked by you, or just the blog authors, ofcourse, apart, from you, the blog admin, or any other admin(s) you chose.

Blogger Dashboard Settings - Posts & Comments

Blogger Dashboard Settings – Posts & Comments

Moving forward to the next tab comes up the page to modify key elements governing the display of blogposts and comments in your blog. Here you can set the number of posts/days of posts, visible on your blog’s homepage. For this particular instance, it is always advisable to keep this number under control as letting in too many posts/days in the home page might make the homepage unnecessarily heavy, and making the number too less will mean that many visitors will miss on many of your posts, as it is generally known that a lot of people close the website from the home page. The page also shows something named Post Template, which lets you specify custom code for formatting your blogposts, again, independent of your blog’s template. This can help you with a lot of customizations, when you are doing changes to post formatting, and font faces, sizes and colours. The Showcase images with Lightbox option lets you choose whether blogger should display your images as a separate overlay as a navigable gallery, in case your blogpost has multiple images, or should it open in the tab itself if the option of No is selected.

Blogger Settings - Posts & Comments (Comment Moderation)

Blogger Settings – Posts & Comments (Comment Moderation)

Now we come up to Comments section which manages how comments on specific posts are taken and displayed. And who all can comment on your blogposts. Considering the fact tha comments are a really important part of blogging, and that most bloggers do consider the number of comments as a measure of how successful their blogs are, putting a check at commenting is something worth considering, even if yours is just a new blog. This page lets you decide whether you want your blog visitors/readers to navigate down to another page to post comments on your blogposts, or that they can do this on the page itself. Also, you can decide whether anonymous users which includes everyone capable of using the internet, can post comments on your blogs, or some registered users using the OpenID API, which includes accounts of a number of participating web services including Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter to name a few, or someone having a google account can only comment on your blogposts. Beyond everything, you can choose to let only people who are members of your blog to be allowed to post comments on your blog. This is particularly helpful when your blog has too many subscribers or when you intend to receive comments from just a handful of people. Comment moderation is equally important in today’s time when spammers are always on the lookout for selling fake medication and all kinds of stuff to you. They find posting comments on blogs rather good to make their point and reach out to people. This, however might come down in bad taste for you  when, say, for example, one of your most popular blogposts shows comment and links to some cheap and fake viagra. Here comes the role of comment moderation. While blogger does have a good comment spam blocking system in place, which eventually filters out most of the spam messages, there are instances when one of these hits your blogpost, and this is where manual comment moderation comes in. Blogger gives you ability to moderate comments manually, and to do this, you have various options to set the comment moderation and comment display in blogposts. The options available for comment moderation are – Always, Sometimes, and Never, which, as their individual names suggest, put up all the comments for manual moderation by the blog admin before publishing the same on the blogpost, sometimes ask you to manually moderate a comment, based on the conditions specified by the options you selected, and Never ask for any manual comment moderation, which means that a comment once posted will directly be published on the blogpost, or will be sent to spam comments (if the blogger’s comment filters suspect it to be spam). The system learns from the activities, and once you mark a comment by someone as spam, such a comment will always end up in your spam box. Then, you may make your blog visitors fill up Captcha to further restrict spam comments, by changing the options under Show word verification.

Blogger Settings - Mobile & Email

Blogger Settings – Mobile & Email

Further down, under Mobile and Email, you can set preferences to do blogging by your registered mobile phone over SMS/MMS and also, by sending an to a predefined email ID, which you can set on this page, to be published, saved as draft on your blog, this comes in hand when you are unable to access your blogger dashboard for posting blogposts, and thus can manage posting on your on the go with the help of your mobile or email. You can also set a few more options like setting an email address to notify you of any comments posted on your blogposts, and also, choose to get yourself a copy of blogposts published on your blog, on your email.

Blogger Language & Formatting Options

Blogger Language & Formatting Options

Then comes the tab Language and formatting which manages settings like blog languages, timezones, transliteration settings, and formatting of dates and times on your blog. It is usually advisable to set the timezone as the one your country/region follows.

Blogger Search Preferences Settings

Blogger Search Preferences Settings

Next page is Search Preferences. The page is quite dangerous, as if something goes wrong, it can screw up your blog’s visibility to the search engines. So, one must proceed with caution, unless they know what exactly they are doing and that if something goes horribly wrong, how to correct the issue, as this page deals with Custom robots.txt and header tags for search engine bots, which directly pass on instructions to search engine bots regarding the blog, and if something goes wrong, your blog might not be available for th search engine bots to crawl and hence make available in SERP’s. This page however does have an important tool which deals with custom redirects, something is quite important in the web arena. We have done a post about custom web redirects here. You might find it useful for something on the other related to blogger. You can add meta tags that are nothing but keywords help search engine bots determine the contents of the page. This way, search engines can find the contents of your blog more efficiently, and hence your site may be displayed better in search engine rankings based on the keywords the user searches for.

Blogger Settings - Other

Blogger Settings – Other

Finally, the Other tab, gets you a few more options and more control over your blog. This is the screen to look for when you want to import another blog into your current blog, which uses an XML file to import the contents, or export your current blog to either keep it safe, or to import it somewhere else, or some other platform, again this option creates an xml file with the contents of your blog. Please bear in mind that both these options work on blogposts and don’t do anything with the blog’s template. There is a different option under Templates tab to import/export blog templates. We will take a look at that in one of the upcoming posts. Apart from importing and exporting blogposts, you may choose to Delete a blog, for reasons you better know. Again this removes the blogposts only, and not the entire blog. If you want to delete a blog, it can be done from your Blogger Dashboard. Then comes the settings to manage the Feeds (RSS/Atom) feeds for your blog. Further, you may define whether your site contains adult contents, since this is somthing Google has prretty stringent policies about. You are supposed to declare if your blog contains adult content, that should be kept away from minors, as this will give the visitors a warning and confirmation about the content and whether they wish to go to your site or move away. Finally, it’s the Google Analytics’ Analytics Web Property ID: a string that is provided to you when you sign up on Google Analytics to track the usage of your blog, and create a web property to track down a specific site. Once you key in the property id here, Google Analytics starts tracking down your blog and it starts displaying in your account accessible at www.google.com/analytics.

With that, we have done away with a quick tour of more customizing settings available for your blogger blog. You may choose to check out one of the many followup posts, explaining one or more features in detail, to understand them better. Do let us know how did you find the above post. and how helpful it was to you in getting over the customizations in your Blogger blog.

Ciao!

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Start your Blogger blog – Customizing Templates

Now, since, you have now made a new blogger blog your yourself, and have decided to put up your work in it for the time being, unless you need “more” features, or you finally find your the blogging platform isn’t really upto the competition. As we promised in the last post, we will be doing up a few more rounds of posts detailing for you, how to customize the blogger themes as per your wish and requirements, afterall, this is your first blog, and everyone likes having their things made up their way. It’s time to get your hands a bit dirty with some customizing. If you’re still not ready to get up dirty, you may choose to get yourself a pre-made blogger blog theme, and believe us, there are many websites that do provide you hundreds of themes, many free, many, demo and many premium ones. Yes, people do make a lot of money selling those themes to people who don’t really intend to get their hands dirty indulging in some coding behind the scenes. However, when you are into blogging, it’s really useful to learn a few things, so that you could do these things according to your wish, whenever you want.

Blogger blog layout page

The blog layout page of Blogger

Anyways,  if you are not comfortable doing stuff under the hood, and getting entangled in the web of code, almost all the blogging platforms, just like any other application, either online or offline, provides you with a GUI, a way, by which, a regular user might use the application to customize its features. Blogger is no different, and it too provides a good enough GUI, though, not really an intuitive one, just that gets the work done. This time around, we are going to take a look at these ways to work around on the theme/template of your new blog. There are a number of ways you can work behind the curtains to modify the look and feel of your blog. Moving forward with the customizations in your blogs template, blogger provides you with multiple options. Either you may choose to change the way the widgets on the sidebar are arranged, or you might choose to remove and/or add more widgets. These tasks can be carried over under Layout section in your blog’s dashboard. The screen provides you with a somewhat limited drag and drop facility for rearranging the widgets in the sidebar(s). Additionally, you may choose to add a header, a footer and a few other elements in your blog’s template. More than these, blogger’s widget gallery also provides a number of widgets that can be used to modify the blog’s template. One of these is an HTML/Javascript widget, that lets you add custom HTML/Javascript code to your blog, much easily for those who don’t want to go through the excruciating hundreds of lines of unfamiliar code in your blog template’s HTML code.

Beyond the rather limited scope of the layout page lies the Blogger template editor, which let’s you modify the blog’s template as a whole, however, this depends a lot on the blog template you choose. A number of template developers don’t make their templates compatible with the blogger template editor, and hence, when trying to make changes in such templates, the template editor tells you that there is nothing editable in this template. Let us take a look at the blogger template editor with the help of some screenshots, that will help us better understand what the blogger template editor is capable of, and how to go through using it to make changes to your blog’s template. For illustration purposes, we are using the template editor on one of the blogger templates, available from to be chosen from the blogger template gallery. The template editor can be reached by clicking the button Template on your blogger dashboard.

Blogger Template Editor

Blogger Template Editor

The template editor gives you a number of options. Starting from the beginning, there are previews of the currently active template on your blog. This preview loads the actual template that is live on your blog at the current time. Besides it is the Mobile view of your blog’s template, that is available to the users who browse your blog over mobile and other handheld devices. And you can actually change the mobile theme of your blog, by clicking that gear icon button underneath the mobile view. It lets you choose whether you want to display a mobile theme for mobile users or the desktop only theme is served to mobile users too. Though, in view of the recent revelations by search enging giant, Google, sites which are mobile ready will be given preference in Search Engine Results Pages (SERP’s), so having a mobile friendly theme can help you get to the top of search results in Google search. Apart from that, you can change the themes as well, by selecting from a list of some already available mobile ready themes, or choose to upload your own by clicking Custom.

Blogger Mobile Theme Options

Blogger Mobile Theme Options

Moving out of the mobile theme settings, Blogger allows you to change your template from a list of free to use templates submitted by generous users. These templates are categorised on the basis of their capabilities. So, before moving forward, to editing a template to your likes using the template editor, you can choose to change your current template to something much better looking instead of investing too much time in changing a template. It is always advisable to check out different templates and themes, by previewing it live on your blog, before going down to make changes to one of it, since, once you make changes to a template, and then look out to change the template with another one, you stand to lose the changes you did in the previous template, as the changes in templates are standalone, and aren’t passed over to other templates, and ince you remove the template you changed, all the changes you did are gone. So, it is always a better idea to save a copy of your current template (if you have made any changes) before trying to make any changes to the templates altogether. This will be even more helpful when you are doing the changes inside the Template’s HTML, which we will take a look in one of the upcoming posts. Anyways, trying not to deviate from the topic any further, let us take a look at the blogger template editor.

Blogger Template Editor

Blogger Template Editor

So, once you click on that orange Customize button in your blogger dashboard, it takes you to the page as shown above. Based on the template you chose, the looks might differ a bit, but the bar on the top remains almost same. Again, this depends upon the blogger template you chose. Some third party template you got from somewhere else might not let you use the blogger template editor. The blogger template editor provides you with different sections that lets you make changes to different aspects of your blog’s template. The first one is Template, which, like one of the previous discussed page, lets you change the template altogether. Here, for each template, you can choose colour themes and layouts.

Background - Blogger Template Editor

Background – Blogger Template Editor

Moving downwards, we have the Background tab which lets you change the background image/colours and other theme colours of your blog. The template editor, or the template designer, as it is called, offers you a  few suggested colour themes for the presently active template. Alternatively, you may choose to change the colour themes yourself from the dropdown under the text Main color theme, as well, as from Advanced tab, which lets you change the colours for specific elements of the template.

Adjust Widths - Blogger Template Editor

Adjust Widths – Blogger Template Editor

Next comes up the tab Adjust widths, which lets you change the overall width of your blog’s main content area and the sidebars. You can set up the entire width of the blog, out of which the sidebar widths are deducted to give you the content area where your blogposts will be visible. Here, since we have selected a template with a single sidebar, that on the right hand side, it is showing us the option to change the width of the right side bar. Since, most of our computer screens these days are capable of displaying HD resolutions (i.e. 1280×720 pixels) where 1280px is the width and 720 px is the height, you can safely extend the width of theEntire blog by moving that slider to 1280  px, or lesser, or, directly type in the value in the text box, same is the case with the sidebars. The wider the sidebars, the lesser is the space for the main content area, and anyways, sidebars are not supposed to display too much important contents, since the visitor is visiting your blog for the content in the main area and not in the sidebar, you may choose to suitable reduce the width of the sidebar to 240px in case of a single sidebar, and something around 200px or lesser in case you have multiple sidebars.

Layout - Blogger Template Editor

Layout – Blogger Template Editor

We saw a layouts page in the blogger dashboard as well. How is this one different from that one. You might wonder. Well, the answer to that is here, the template editor lets you change the layouts, be selecting from a various sets of layouts, while the page in the blogger dashboard lets you only edit, add/remove the widgets, and rearrange them. here, you can do all of them, except adding/removing the widgets.

Advanced - Blogger Template Editor

Advanced – Blogger Template Editor

And finally, the Advanced tab. This one takes the cake when it comes to the ability to make changes to the template. This tab has a lot of options to make edits to the template, formatting of typefaces (fonts), sizes, colours, links, and backgrounds to name a few. What more? If you happen to be able to write custom CSS (yes, Cascading StyleSheets), you can choose to put up the css codes in a text box available with the tab Add CSS, and the content will be updated in your blog’s template. More or less, most of the tabs under Advanced tab are self explanatory. You might choose to make changes to one of them to see the imapact on your blog.

With this, it will be wise not to stretch this post any longer, or you will get bored and turn this off, something we won’t like. We invite you to take a try at editing things, making them how you like them, instead of using the template how someone else liked it, afterall, it’s your blog, it should be the way you like it to be. Do share with us your views on how was the stroll through the Blogger Template Designer/Editor went through. If you find it difficult to understand, we might take a look at how we can try to make it easier to comprehend for users, afterall, these are supposed to be read by the users and not by us!