Wordpress... Blogger... Wordpress... Blogger... and Templates

I'm very new to blogging, having moved over to it from Twitter only recently (hit 2000 Tweets last night, woot!). I started at WP for one simple reason; somehow, long ago, I had signed up with them so I could comment on another blog. It just seemed to simplest way to get started; use my account there.

WP is simple, elegant and intuitive. I barely had to look at the support or go to the forum. I hit a snag though; lack of template editing ability. If I wanted to move away from the pre-set themes I would have to pay them money. Didn't really want to do that; what if, in a couple of months time I found I'd got bored of blogging. I'd have wasted my money.

Okay, so it's not a huge amount of money... but it's still money I don't want to be spending just yet. Blogger, on the other hand, allows people to play with their template to their heart's content (and if they think it's worth it; monetize with AdSense... genius move on Google's part there).

I'm not much of a dab hand with html and css editing, though I'm a pretty quick learner. If I want to change something that Blogger's own layout editor won't allow, I can pretty much work out what I need to do to the template through trial and error. Yeah, I could just look it up or ask someone... I enjoy the challenge though. I'm not very creative, visually, either... so anything I create myself tends to come out looking a bit bland... a bit 1.0.

Google to the rescue! I have no idea why, but I'm finding searching template galleries and directories rather addictive. Many a morning I have got up after only five hours sleep because I had to look at just another page the night before... and another... and another. *sigh* In the last week and a half I must have viewed nigh on a thousand templates. Ouch.

I'm so damn picky though. I want something blue with light grey gradients, rounded, three columns, clean, image free... but has to be just the right blue. Microsoft blue, as I refer to it, is hideous, but template designers seem to love it. Yeah, I could and do play with the colours... but the right blue in the template demo will catch my eye more than the wrong blue, so I ignore the wrong blue.

Aaaanyway. Figured as I've been going through all these bloody sites I'd do a list... because everyone loves a top five list!

1) BTemplates This one's pretty easy. Type 'blogger template' into Google and this is the first one that will come up, most likely. They have a search option but also have an excellent list of categories including number of columns, basic colours, rounded, web 2.0... Has a 'Features' section for each template, detailing properties and compatibility.

2) Mashable Kind of a cheat; Mashable's list of articles about the best template sites they've found. Takes a bit of going through though. They also have some great articles on finding html and css guides, widgets, advice on monetizing... just a great all round site for anyone interested in social media.

3) BloggerStyles A lot of overlap with BTemplates here as they not only list them but review them, handing out different ratings for various features and slapping on bronze, silver and gold certificates. Again, nice and clean, easy to navigate and search. A lot of the template demos don't just include the ol' "lorem ipsum" stuff but also give details of what the features are and how they can be changed... which is nice.

4) DeluxeTemplates Not as easy to navigate as the others; it has a search box but not a list of categories. It does, however, have a lot fo very nice, very clean templates as well as a nice hints and tips section. Klodian also takes requests for template conversions from other blog hosts to something you can use on Blogger... hehe.

5) BlogTemplates4U Yeah... stupid name. They have both Blogger and WP templates, search by categories or just search. A lot of nice templates that I've not seen on other sites. I couldn't find anything on here about whether or not these could be used for commercial purposes, no mention of a creative commons licence. It simply says; all can be downloaded and used for free...

Something else I've found useful, because I have no eye for colour combinations (check out my latest pair of shoes!); Color Schemer. The online tool is good, but the full programme is VERY useful, especially the gallery. The demo lasts for two weeks, which is surely long enough to sort out your personal blog/site. The full product is $50, a little steep for us amateurs, but well worth it for anyone above that level.

[EDIT]

Haha, Tompl has informed me this basic theme doesn't support comments... which I never noticed. Not all that fussed right now, will work on that after my "holiday". Right now I'm just enjoying playing. He also says; many other good color scheme tools out there so go check 'em out. Yup, there were others... but this one's my personal favourite so far.
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