Thursday, October 10, 2013

Choose Your Own Adventure: Navigating Google Blogger Layout + free re-design!

In this post I compare the two different Google Blogger "layout" designers and suggest ways to improve the Blogger user experience by changing the way the menu is structured.

A week or so ago as I was starting this blog I started having some difficulties with changing the layout on my page. I noticed that sometimes I could add gadgets to my layout and sometimes I couldn't. I noticed that sometimes I seemed to be able to move gadgets around, but other times I couldn't. Because I was new to blogging and Google Blogger, and I was having so many other problems with the user interface that I figured I'd sort it out later.

Ok, so now it's later.

After a little more experience and a blog post about the Template Designer I realized what part of the problem was: there are two different Blogger layout designers which look somewhat similar and have some of the same features but not others. Yeah, this is kind of the UI consistency that I have come to expect from Google. On the negative side, Google UI seems to be designed piecemeal and updated piecemeal. On the plus side, Google can do quick releases to improve things. I can at least imagine that my critiques will have some measurable good in a reasonable amount of time. But I digress...

Sometimes UI is so confusing it's hard to figure out how to describe coherently why it is confusing. Here is a handy dandy chart for your reference even if you don't take the time to read this entire post:

Two Blogger Layout Designers Feature Comparison
Feature Dashboard Layout tab Template Designer Layout tab
Add Gadgets yes no
Edit Gadgets yes yes
Remove Gadgets yes yes
Rearrange Gadgets by Dragging yes no
Change Sidebar Location and Columns no yes
Change Footer Columns no yes
Preview Changes no yes
Clear Changes no yes