WordPress is more pressure

I decided to use WordPress for this blog for two reasons:

  1. I wanted to try out a different piece of software, and I already know blogger
  2. This is a professional blog, and everyone uses WordPress for their professional blogs, right?

I have to say, I’m somewhat disappointed by WordPress. It is techie software, and it shows. Now, sure, I am a techie. I have two degrees in computer science, and I have worked on web software intermittently for the past six years. I am also a usability person, and I am someone who wants life to be easy where it doesn’t need to be difficult, which is why I was not impressed to have to figure out format strings in PHP (or even know that WordPress is written in PHP) to set the format for the timestamp on this blog. I was also not impressed that I had to do the math myself to figure out the time difference between my location and UTC. Sure, I can do all of this (and tough cookies if I couldn’t), but why should I have to? These are things that it is easy for a programmer to build in, but that cost WordPress users time every time they set up a blog (or change their settings).

Even more disappointing was the discovery that unless I was willing to pay, I could use one of the WordPress themes (with whatever minor modifications the theme author allows), or I could use a different hosting service. Not only would I have to pay to customise the appearance of this blog, I am required to know CSS–there is no WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) sandbox, nor any easily readable stylesheets. If you’re not a techie, and you don’t want to learn CSS, I really hope you like one of the existing themes, because pretty much all you are going to be able to change is the picture on your blog.

Now, to be fair, Blogger has only recently added some of the WYSIWYG CSS features, and is owned by Google, (considered to be the great privacy bogeyman of our age by some), so perhaps I am expecting a bit much of a smaller company. Not only are some of the toys in Blogger recent, there are a couple of things in WordPress that seem nicer at first taste, notably the text editor I am typing in now (more than 3 style edits in blogger and you are for sure going to need to edit the HTML), and the fact that the make-a-link dialog doesn’t grab control of my browser (which is a real pain if you forgot to copy that web address before you clicked the ‘make me a link’ button). WordPress also offered me more up-front publicity options than Blogger did, but Blogger may have changed since the last time I set up a blog (about three years ago).

Unless WordPress wows me with some feature I haven’t yet seen, though (and remember this is only day one), Blogger is a winner for me–it is easier to use, it is easier and cheaper (read: free) to customise, and it integrates well with Google’s other services (making it easy to add pictures and other multimedia to your blog, and keeping you logged in when you are logged in to gmail, for example). I would urge anyone concerned with the privacy ‘risk’ of blogging with Blogger to consider whether they really want to blog at all; nothing on the internet is ever really private (and that includes your email, unless you run your own server and PGP encryption).

I have to assume that the kudos associated with WordPress comes partly from its early entry into the market, and partly from the techie requirements it imposes on its users–Blogger is the gauche new WYSIWYG kid on the blog, meaning everyone can blog* . Frankly, at the end of the day, I would rather use blog software that lets everyone blog, because it is easier for me to use as well.

* And what is wrong with everyone blogging, if they want to? You don’t have to read it. However, if you’re still really worried about being an everyone blogger, you can always get your own domain name and customise that Blogger look out of existence.


4 Responses to “WordPress is more pressure”

  1. 1 libodyssey Wednesday, September 12, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    Hi Dana

    The need to pay for the ability to customise stylesheets is looking like a common problem with blogging software other than the much-maligned Blogger. I just mocked up a blog at Blog.com, a much less professional-looking setup than WordPress, and it too required me to upgrade (pay) to edit the stylesheet (beyond basic font colour choices and header images).

    For anyone interested in trying something less common than Blogger or WordPress, there is a good long list of other blogging platforms in the Wikipedia entry on blog software. However, there seems to be many good reasons why Blogger is so popular.


  2. 2 Allan Jewell Tuesday, September 18, 2007 at 11:26 am

    I like the functionality of the popups on
    highlighted text.
    Not sure if it can be done in Blogger.



  3. 3 danamckay Thursday, September 20, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Allan, what is it that you like about the preview pop-ups? I personally don’t find them especially useful, so I would be interested in hearing your take.

  4. 4 Tony Friday, September 28, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    Hi Dana,
    I liked them so much I installed them in my blogger too! OK, that’s the flippant response…

    I came across the Snapshot popups yesterday and as the 23 things blog is about exploring new things I decided what the heck and installed them in my 23 things blog in Blogger. But if I was deciding whether I should install them in another web page or permanent blog I’d certainly be giving them some more thought.

    So far, I like how I can get a preview of a linked web page before deciding whether I should go there. And I like how I can use some things in the popup window rather than going to a new page and losing where I was, eg I can scroll through some Flickr pics, or view a YouTube video inside the popup.

    If I don’t want to see them in other people’s pages I can turn them off, but so far I’ve left them turned on. I’ve found it occasionally annoying when something pops up inadvertently because I’ve accidentally moved the cursor over the icon, but at the moment I’m still experimenting.

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