What’s happening blogwise?

by Maskil on April 7, 2008

Just a brief update on where I am regarding blog technology and direction.

Templates

I’ve really been wanting to switch to a new template (preferably with a 3-column layout), especially for Altneuland. To me, the 3-column format just looks much smarter, and allows for more widgets above the (all-important) fold. It would also allow me to put all my blog tools on the left (say) and all the stuff for paying the bills on the right.

Problem is, though, that Blogger doesn’t have any “built-in” 3-column templates, so you have to look further, to third-party products (usually of an uneven quality). I eventually settled on the Garland Theme, the JackBook implementation. I played around with it on my test blog (Workbench), but still wasn’t 100% happy, e.g. the JackBook Favicon really irritated me.

The upshot was that I eventually decided (I think) to stick with the bundled Blogger templates. I’ve simply switched from Stretch Denim Light to Stretch Denim; after having been exposed to the two for some time now, I think Stretch Denim is a tad more readable and better looking. (I like Stretch Denim for its wide text column. I need that because my posts tend to be on the longish side.) I would still like to eventually implement a 3-column layout, but only once there’s an official Blogger choice.

Search widget

I’ve tried using the built-in Blogger Google search widget, but never liked it. Advantages are that it uses Google, you can search only your site and it integrates with Adsense. It just looks a bit clumsy though.

So, I started going through the search widgets I’ve bookmarked lately and it looks as if Lijit is going to be the tool of choice for now.

Blogbar is pretty good, especially the choice of search engines, the AdSense integration and support for microblogging services such as Twitter.

I also had a quick look at Rollyo, but it didn’t seem to have what I’m looking for.

Lijit offers a high degree of customization and brings all the other places you blog into the picture. So, searching on Altneuland will also bring my other blogs, coComment, Tumblr and Twitter into the frame. It doesn’t integrate with AdSense, but I think it more than compensates with all the other value add. What clinched the deal was when I received my first Lijit Weekly Stats e-mail message and realized the kind of reporting I could get.

Blog roles

  • Altneuland continues to be my main vehicle, especially for longer, polished posts on the J-Blogosphere.
  • Everything Else to be renamed (Café) Birkenreis and used for my drive-by blogging and stuff that’s off-topic for the J-Blogosphere, e.g. the Alternate SAJR stuff.
  • coComment for my breadcrumb trail on other blogs and sites
  • Twitter for my microblogging
  • Workbench for testing.
  • I’m not sure whether that leaves a role for the Tumblr blog I started. I started backing off from Tumblr because of the lack of support for WLW and lower visibility than Blogspot.

On the horizon

The kind of stuff I’ll be looking at over the next couple of weeks includes:

  • Optimising my Google AdSense ads and Amazon widgets. I want to use widgets that don’t require regular background maintenance for now.
  • Going through my hundreds of bookmarked services and widgets and seeing which of them can add value to my blogs.
  • Removing any obsolete or redundant widgets to speed up page loading and compensate for any additional services I bring in.
  • Generally just getting into the habit of doing constant maintenance of what’s on my sites.

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