Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Week 1, Extra Thing: Ways to make your blog beautiful

You have just created your first blog.  Congratulations!  It is likely, though, that you are not completely satisfied with how it looks.  You might wonder how to make it look interesting and professional, like some of the more established library blogs.

Do not worry, you do not need great coding or design skill to make a nice-looking blog.  Blogger (and Wordpress) offers many templates and gadgets/widgets that add sparkle to your blog and extend its functionality -- and most are easy to install and configure (and free!).

Quick definitions: A template controls the layout, colors, and overall look and feel of your blog.  In Wordpress, these are called themes.  A gadget (or widget) is a snippet of code that you can copy and add to your blog and which adds functionality to your blog, such as a feed from your Twitter account, a connection to your Facebook account, or slideshow of your photographs.  There are literally thousands of themes and widgets to choose from.

To change your template on Blogger, follow these instructions.  If you would like to customise your template, you can use the template designer.

There are also many third-party Blogger templates to choose from.  A Google search for 'blogger templates' yields many sites with many interesting designs.  It is important to choose a template that reflects your personality and goals.

To add a pre-loaded gadget to Blogger, click 'Design' and then the 'Page Elements' tab.  Any place you see the link 'Add a Gadget' you can click to add one of 24 gadgets Blogger provides by default.  Some of these gadgets include a search bar, a 'follow me by email' feature, and an easy way to add an image.

For lists of other great widgets, a Google search for 'blogger widgets' yields many great sites.  If you find a widget you would like to add, copy the given code snippet, go back to your blog and 'Add a Gadget' (instructions above).  Select 'HTML/JavaScript,' paste the code snippet, and save.  Your new widget/gadget should appear on your blog.

Have fun exploring the many ways you can improve the look and functionality of your blog.  Change your template at least one time and add at least two widgets.  You will be surprised at how easy it is!

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