I am not, nor do I claim to be, any sort of web development/design expert. Even after having spent the better part of a year building this new blog I still consider myself a reasonably clueless amateur equipped with just enough foolhardy stubbornness to avoid defeat. As such, although I did consider writing a detailed post about my experience, unfortunately I feel in no way qualified to offer in-depth advice to anyone on the intricacies of website crafting or blog migration. There are already numerous on-line articles about the subject written by much more competent folk than I. That said, I do feel somewhat obligated to share my acquired knowledge (scarce as it may be) with any of my readers seeking straight-forward information about DIY’ing a WordPress site from someone who has had the experience. So if you do have a specific question please feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer.
So although I may not have an expert opinion to offer on the matter, I do feel reasonably confident expressing a personal one…
When I first mentioned my proposed move from Blogger to WordPress, and since the launch of this new site, the most asked question by far has been “Why WordPress?”. Again, there are already numerous on-line articles about the subject, though if you’re keen to hear some points from the perspective of someone you can perhaps relate to then please read on.
Note that the following views expressed are based solely on my personal experience having used both WordPress self-hosted and Blogger blogs. If you are seriously considering changing or choosing a blog platform I recommend seeking information from various sources first.
:: I initially switched from Blogger to WordPress for cosmetic reasons (no, not the make-up kind). Don’t get me wrong though, I could have created an aesthetically lovely site in Blogger though for whatever reason I had quite a specific design in mind and whilst Blogger is customisable to some extent it just doesn’t offer the flexibility of WordPress. Blogger guards many of its files whereas WordPress grants almost unlimited access. This allows for total freedom in the modification and addition of content. If you’re planing to work with a designer then file access may be reasonably inconsequential to you, if you’re planning to self-design then some knowledge of coding is necessary (HTML, CSS and for WordPress, probably PHP also – note, even if you’re not planning to design your own site I believe some knowledge of HTML and CSS is still beneficial). If you’re not too fussed about a totally customised site then both platforms offer numerous ready-to-use, well-designed templates which can be personalised. There are just more options (in terms of features and functionality) with WordPress.
:: WordPress is supported by a vast community of generous and passionate volunteers who offer amazing free content, services and advice. Most noteably, Plugins. Plugins are software components which can be easily used to extend WordPress to do just about anything. There are thousands of awesome free Plugins though also some powerful paid ones. I use them mainly for cosmetic reasons, such as creating dynamic slideshows or galleries. My little Shop was also created using a fantastic free Plugin.
:: In most cases having a Blogger blog is completely free. Having a self-hosted WordPress site means paying for hosting. This can vary from as little as $10 to as much as $500 per month! Choosing the right host is one of the most crucial steps in establishing a new website – it took me a few weeks to make my decision. The cost involved in hosting is generally reflected by the amount of traffic you receive. Most hosts offer plans based on average daily page hits (for example, if you regularly have around 5,000 daily page hits then monthly hosting might cost you $20/if you’re closer to around 50,000 daily page hits hosting might cost $200). It’s a tricky balance – you don’t want to pay more than necessary though if you choose the wrong host/plan you risk having a slow-loading site and even crashes!
:: WordPress offers unlimited static pages (static pages are stand-alone pages such as that used for About, Contact, etc). When I first looked into redesigning my blog on Blogger the amount of static pages you could have was limited to 20. For me this was frustrating. I’m not certain whether Blogger has now lifted this cap.
:: Maintaining a WordPress site comes with a greater level of personal responsibility. Blogger handles pretty much everything on your behalf – storage, backups, hosting, security, etc – so all you need do is concentrate on writing awesome posts. Because WordPress sites are self-hosted, you (or your trusted designer) are responsible for ensuring these finer details are properly managed.
:: There is more choice with WordPress though just remember that isn’t necessarily always a good thing! If you’re indecisive by nature or daunted by options WordPress can be overwhelming. In this instance the simplicity of Blogger is its strength.
In summary, the shuffle to WordPress was the right move for me. I’ve really enjoyed both the challenges and avenues it’s presented. Both platforms have their pros and cons. There is nothing definitive which makes one clearly better than the other. The right platform is the one which best suits you. Remember, you can always establish a trial blog to sample a platform before making a final decision. If I had to make recommendations; for casual or hobby bloggers – Blogger, for serious or fastidious bloggers (or those with an interested in web development/design) – WordPress.
I hope this little summary of Blogger v WordPress (in my humble opinion) has been somewhat helpful. Like I mentioned, if you’re seriously considering changing or choosing a platform do some research first. There are loads of really thorough on-line articles about the subject. If you’d like further clarification or information about anything I’ve mentioned please feel free to ask – I’m more than happy to try and help.