Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Blogger Dynamic Views (Technical Tuesday - Special)

Blogger just announced a new template feature called Dynamic Views. They change the way your readers can see and use your blog in some dramatic ways. Here's a video trailer Blogger put together that gives you a quick introduction:

Over the next few days, I'm going to try out each of the views and give you my thoughts. I'll also post the steps I used to get each one working.

I'm sure some of the views won't be right for this style of blog, but I'm going to try them anyway--for science. Okay, maybe not for science, but it should be fun.

Try It Out Now

Blogger has a way to try out the new views without changing anything on your blog. You can go right ahead and see what yours will look like if you switched. I don't know if it's completely accurate, but it's worth a shot.

Just type the URL of your blog (or anyone else's) and click Preview to see.

A Quick Warning

If you use a custom template (like Cutest Blog on the Block or Hot Bliggety Blog) then you might have some problems. I tried previewing couple blogs and they mostly worked, but some of the views had problems. I don't know if this is because of the custom template or because of stray codes in their posts.

The new views won't have any of your cool themes (background, colors, etc). I'll be researching how to make that happen.

Why It's  Cool

Before I get into the technical pieces over the next several posts, I thought I'd share a couple points that I think make these new views cool.

First, "Infinite Scrolling". This is what Blogger is calling it, but it means that your readers will be able to keep scrolling through your posts without having to click a "See previous posts" link. Your visitor can scroll all the way back to your first post if they want to.

When I find a blog I like, I typically scan through until I get to the bottom of the page then move on. Now, I could keep scrolling and scrolling. This will allow me to see a lot more content before I visit someone else. Cool.

Second, "More Content". The new views allow for more of your posts to be accessible faster. Currently, blogs fill the front screen with the latest post. You might see the top of the next post if the first one is short.

With the new views more of your posts will be visible "above the fold". I hope this leads to visitors clicking on more than one post. It can also lead to your popular posts getting more visits. Cool.

Why It May Not Be Cool

It's not all singing birds and happy elves. I can think of a couple problems with the new layouts.

First, "Where's the sidebar and gadgets?" A standard feature of many blogs is the sidebar. Some blogs have multiple sidebars that go on and on and on. But I don't see that feature with the new templates. Maybe it's there. I'll have to let you know when I try them out.

Second, "Pictures, pictures, pictures". Many of the new views put a heavy emphasis on the images you include in your posts. If you don't have a lot of images, or your images are low quality, this could adversely affect your visitors. The new views will even pull images out of old posts to show, so if you have a bunch of old, blurry images it might not be pretty.

Aaaaand We're Off

Stay tuned for my experiments with the different views, and if you have any questions put them in the comments and I'll work them into my research.


Maria Hoagland said...

Totally looking forward to it! Thanks for being our scientific guinea pig. You're right...I do like being able to see more info without having to click back. And the clean look. It'll be great to see what works and what people think of the new templates.

John Waverly said...

Maria - I'm kinda excited to be the guinea pig. It's like stepping into the unknown and documenting it for the next group. I'm not sure if I'll like the new views, but I'm hoping I will.

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