Saturday, October 1, 2011

I Have Dynamic Views (Technical Tuesday - Special)

My initial impression: Dynamic Views aren't quite ready for everyone.

In this post, I'll walk you through the switch-over and some of the hurdles I encountered. There's a fair number of them and I don't want this post to become negative. I'm going to keep working on finding a way over each of them and will post my suggestions as I figure things out.

The Big Switch

Switching to Dynamic Views is very easy. Here's what my blog looked like before:

  1. Login to your Blogger Dashboard and go to the Templates section.
  2. Make a backup of your current template. I posted instructions for doing this a couple days ago.
  3. Select one of the Dynamic Views and apply it to your blog.
  4. Done.
I decided to use the Classic view mostly because it was the first one in the list. Here's my blog after the switch.

The Hurdles

The new view is simple, clean, and worked like a charm. All my posts showed up and were formatted well. I don't use a lot of fancy formatting in my posts, so I didn't expect any problems with this.

Hurdle #1: Branding

I like the new look and how it makes it easy to read posts, but I want to make it a bit more my own. Right now, there aren't a lot of people using the new views, but as more people use them my blog will blend into the sea of simple black & white.

The new views are all about the content. They push everything else to the background and put the posts in the spotlight. I think this is a good thing.

Still, I want to put my own spin on it, and this is hard to do right now.

Hurdle #2: Who Am I?

As you can tell, my sidebar is gone along with all the gadgets. So, how are people supposed to know who I am? How can they find my profile? How can they find me on Twitter or Facebook or Google+?

Hurdle #3: I Lost My Friends

I haven't really lost my blog followers, but you can't see them anymore.

Honestly, this doesn't bother me much. I know there are many people who put a lot of emphasis on how many Followers they have. The problem is that there are so many other ways to follow a blog than clicking on the "Follow" link.

If you're a reader who uses the Follow button to keep up on blogs then you're out of luck.

Hurdle #4: No Preview

I don't know if this is related to switching to Dynamic Views but since switching over I can't Preview my blog posts. The button is grayed out.

Hurdle #5: Tags and Archives

This isn't really a hurdle. It's just different. The new search feature is way cool. Just start typing in the box and it will filter the posts like magic.

Hurdle #6: Money, money, money, mo-ney

If you use your sidebar, header, or footer for ad space, then it's gone.

Hurdle #7: Platform

Most blogs use their sidebar as a platform to promote products, other blogs/websites, events, and show off their awards. The sidebar is gone, so how can people see the cover of your latest book and purchase it? Or see your most recent blogging awards?

To be completely honest, most people don't see those things anyway. When was the last time you visited a blog and just perused down the sidebar looking for something interesting? Even if your answer was "just five minutes ago" ask yourself how many time a week do you do that? Not often.

People aren't looking at your sidebar much at all. And if your visitors are like me they rarely see your sidebar ever. I read blog posts in Google Reader. This means that I only see your posts formatted the way I like to read them, nothing more.

Still, I think the sidebar images are like billboards. Marketers learned long ago that billboards rarely drive sales directly. Instead, they reinforce a brand. When you see a billboard over and over again, you form a subconscious relationship with that company. Then when it comes down to making a sales decision, your familiarity will give them an upper hand.

The new views have torn down all the billboards. Great for people who think they are eyesores, not so great for people who want to promote their brand.

Hurdle #8: Copyright

I try to be a stickler for copyright. I make sure I only use images and quotes with permission and I try to give proper attribution. For example, my header image is based on the Night Sky theme by Ray Creations. In my old template, I added this attribution to the footer. The new view doesn't have a footer, so where do I put this?

Also, everything I post on my blog (unless otherwise noted) is released under a Creative Commons Attribution license. This means that anyone can use any quote, image, or whole posts from my blog without asking as long as they give me proper attribution. This information used to be in my footer.

Hurdle #9: Javascript is Broken

This won't apply to many of you, but I use custom javascript in several of my posts. For example, the tool I made to create image buttons. It doesn't work anymore, and I'm sad about that. I know that it's possible to make it work because one of the Google blogs did it. I just need to figure out how.

The Finish Line

Whew! That's a lot of hurdles, but I'm planning on finding a way over each of them. If you have any suggestions put them in the comments. Or if you want to add a hurdle or two--feel free.

How do you like the new view?

* The hurdles photo was taken by David Morris and can be found on Flickr. I'm short, so this is pretty much exactly how I envision skyscrapers hurdles.


Diego said...

hey check out and tell me how it looks I ve changed many things, and if you want I can tell you how to do it.

Sarah K. said...

Thank you for the indepth look at the new dynamic options for blogger. I've looked at several sites to try and learn a bit more, and so far, I'm most impressed with yours.

I really like how you have a picture in your header. I think I want figure out how to do that. If I can't figure it out, can you post how you did it (unless I missed something in your blog). I tried a couple background templates with the dynamic template, but ended up feeling that it took away from the blog. A header would be the perfect solution.
Thanks again for the dynamic rundown ;)

John Waverly said...

Diego - I used to live in NYC and I agree, the bagels there are the best in the world. Your blog looks good.

Sarah - Thank you. On 10/3 I posted about how I set my header background. Here's a link:

Creative Commons LicenseUnless otherwise noted, all posts on the John Waverly blog by John Waverly are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
* Background image based on Night Sky theme by Ray Creations