October 18, 2012

Finding and Installing Unofficial Blogger Templates

In addition to the numerous templates provided by Blogger, you can find hundreds (if not thousands!) of Blogger templates created by independent designers. From simple, customisable designs through to industry-specific layouts and obscure themes, there is something to suit every taste and circumstance.

This post outlines the basics of finding and installing unofficial Blogger templates, both free and premium designs, so that you may enjoy changing the appearance of your Blogger site as often as you like!

September 27, 2012

The Blogspot 100 - Top Blogger Sites of 2012

As a dedicated Blogger enthusiast, I'm very interested to learn more about the sites hosted on Google's free blogging platform.

So I decided to find out which popular sites are powered by Blogger to build upon the list curated in 2008 in order to find the most popular Blogspot sites (including those which use custom domains).

After gathering a huge amount of links to sites hosted on Blogger (whittled down to 350 for the final analysis) I set about scoring and ranking each site according to the following criteria:
  • Pagerank
  • Inbound links
  • Alexa Rank
  • Facebook shares
  • Twitter Mentions
  • Google+1s
  • Google Reader feed subscribers
With the exception of Pagerank, these sites were scored in relation to each other, with each element scored on a scale of 1-350. Data for these rankings were gathered between July and August 2012.

Alexa ranking was scored first as this value is unique to each website. In instances where sites had an equal value to another, scoring would secondly depend on this Alexa score in order to give each site a unique score.

Pagerank for each site was allocated as Pagerank*10, where 0 is the lowest score and 100 (PR10) was potentially the highest.

The total possible score for each website is therefore on a scale of 6-2200.

In order of total score, here are the most popular Blogger powered sites for 2012:

1. Postsecret 

Score: 2131
PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard. It began as an experiment on January 1st 2005, and has gained a worldwide following through the weekly updated website, book releases and exhibition tour.

September 24, 2012

All About Blogger - Infographic!

After curating DailyGraphics.info for quite some time, I was disappointed at being unable to find an infographic celebrating my favourite blogging platform. So I decided to create my own!

For your enjoyment, here is my "All About Blogger" infographic. It is a rather large image which is best viewed at full resolution, so you ma want to click the graphic and view in the lightbox mode or right-click to save to your computer.

Feel free to share this infographic if you like it! Since this is the first information visualisation I've designed, I appreciate your comments or suggestions for future (Blogger-related) designs.

August 14, 2012

Alternative Lorem Ipsum Generator - It's Adventure Time!

Adventure Time Filler Text and Random Image Generator
If you've been reading Blogger Buster for a while, you may have noticed my affection for quirky filler text generators which I use to quickly add content to Blogger template demo sites.

As a side project, I decided to code my own filler text generator, based on dialogue from my favourite animated series, Adventure Time. Check it out at http://filler-text.blogspot.com - you can generate a full page of content (including headings and lists); a number of paragraphs, and even placeholder images based on various Adventure Time episodes. 

It makes a great alternative to Lorem Ipsum text and best of all, it's powered by Blogger!

August 13, 2012

Incipient - A Free Responsive Blogger Template

Free Responsive template for Blogger Preview
Incipient is a free responsive template for Blogger, which offers a simple layout which adjusts according to the size of the screen it is viewed upon.

Fully customizable through the Blogger Template Designer, this simple design is suitable for a wide variety of blogs and is fully gadgetized.

On wider screens, the template expands to the width of the screen, including a right-aligned sidebar and two widget sections in the footer. For smaller resolutions, the template adjusts and sidebar gadgets appear beneath the main posts section, while the footer gadgets widen to the width of the screen.

View the live demo or read on for screenshots and installation details.

August 03, 2012

How to add Google+ Updates Gadget to Blogger

As yet, there is no official "widget" or RSS feed which we can embed in Blogger to display a stream of our recent posts on Google Plus.

Luckily, Google+ to RSS offers a free service enabling us to generate an RSS feed for our personal profiles and pages which we can add to a simple Feed gadget in Blogger.

Take a look at the sidebar to see this technique in action and read on to find out how to add a Google+ updates gadget in your own Blogger site.

August 02, 2012

Lucius - A Premium Blogger Template

Buy Now
Lucius Template is a premium design for Blogger which offers a simple layout and powerful customisation features.

It is incredibly easy to set up, requiring no special configurations or third-party scripts, and is ideal for freelance promotion or to serve as a business website.

Take a look at the demo site for Lucius Template, or read on for screenshots and more details.

For a limited time, Lucius Template is available for the reduced introductory price of $2.95!

July 31, 2012

Connect Your Blog to a Google+ Page

If you log into your Blogger dashboard today, you'll notice a new Google+ tab which can be used to integrate our blogs with Google+.

For some time, we have been able to link our blogs with a personal Google+ profile. Now we are also able to connect to a Google+ page for business, organisation or brand!

If you haven't already connected your Blogger site to a Google+ profile, go to the Google+ tab in your dashboard and click the button to upgrade:

July 30, 2012

Page Navigation with Arrow Keys in Blogger

Navigating between pages using the keyboard arrow keys is a very useful feature. It saves time scrolling down the page to find links to the next page in a site and is very intuitive for visitors.

In this tutorial, I offer a very simple Blogger template hack which can be used to navigate between newer and older posts on any page where the "blog pager" is present (including index, search, archive and item pages) using the left and right arrow keys.

Try out this functionality on my latest Blogger template release and read on for details of how to add this function to your own Blogger-based site.

July 25, 2012

How to add a music player in Blogspot

Since this archived post was written in 2007, web design and Blogger templates have changed immensely. The development of HTML5 and <audio> tags enable us to add music to our Blogspot websites and posts far more simply, and with improved control.

In preparation for explaining how to podcast with Blogger, this tutorial explains how to easily add an HTML5 mp3/audio player to your blog posts or layout. No JavaScript, Flash or plugins are required, and with a fallback for older browsers which don't support the player.

I've even created a simple form to generate basic tags for you! Adding music to your Blogspot site has never been so easy!

July 24, 2012

Blogger for Beginners - Free eBook Guide (PDF)

New to Blogger? Need to know the basics of Google's blogging platform to start your first blog?

Blogger for Beginners is a free guide for those new to the Blogger publishing platform. From creating your very first blog through to customising the appearance of your site and publishing feeds, this ebook covers all the basic knowledge you need with detailed instructions and full colour screenshots.

Download Blogger for Beginners (PDF)

July 11, 2012

How to tell if a website is powered by Blogger

Since we can completely customize the appearance of our blogs and use custom domains, it is not always easy to tell if a website is powered by Blogger. Having looked at hundreds of websites while researching for the Blogspot Top 100 list, I've discovered a few methods to discover if a website is built on the Blogger platform.

For those who would like to know if their favourite blogs operate using Blogger, here are some tips to help you find out.

July 06, 2012

Add a Facebook Invite Friends Link to your Blogger Site

Over at 9Lessons I read a very helpful tutorial to add an "Invite your Facebook Friends" link to a website. I was able to modify this in order to add to a gadget which now appears in the sidebar on all pages of Blogger Buster (beneath the Facebook Like box).

If you click on this link, a box will appear on the page enabling you to invite chosen friends from your Facebook profile to visit Blogger Buster.

In this simple tutorial I'll explain how you can add this functionality to your own Blogger powered blog.

July 05, 2012

Is Opera incompatible with Blogger?

In recent days, those using Opera to maintain their Blogger sites may have received warnings that their browser is not compatible with the platform:

According to The Register, Blogger appears to operate "just fine and dandy" when using Opera 12.0 for Mac, but after dismissing the message it re-appears.
The alert box is banished if Opera changes its user-agent string - the line of text the browser sends to a server to identify itself - and pretends to be a build of Chrome.

Back in August last year, Blogger Buzz posted details of browsers which would be supported by both Blogger and other Google platforms:
Beginning August 1st, we’ll support the current and prior major release of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari on a rolling basis. Each time a new version is released, we’ll begin supporting the update and stop supporting the third-oldest version.
An Opera spokesman has told The Register that this is assumed to be an error and that there is discussion with Google about fixing the problem.

Are you using Opera? If so, please let us know if you've been affected by this message. Your comments and opinions are most welcome.

June 29, 2012

What are the top Blogger blogs of 2012?

Back in 2008, I posted the top 50 Blogger powered blogs - the result of extensive research and analysis into blogs hosted on the Blogger platform.

I'd love to update this list for 2012 to include the most popular and influential sites hosted on the Blogger platform.

Can you help by recommending your favorite Blogger-powered sites?

June 27, 2012

Atticus One Page Portfolio Template for Blogger - Now Available

View Demo | Buy Now
I'm very excited to release my new Premium Blogger Template: Atticus Portfolio!

Designed as a "one-page" portfolio website, this template includes many unique features, including a slideshow which can be configured via a simple gadget and automatic lightbox-enabled thumbnails to show off your work!

My main consideration when designing this template ws to ensure that anyone would be able to use this template quickly and easily, with no requirement whatsoever to edit the HTML or add custom CSS. In the process I learn discovered several new techniques for designing intuitive Blogger templates and am very pleased with the final result of this design.

Currently priced at only $2.95 for a limited period (the regular price will be $5.95), Atticus Portfolio is robust, responsive and well worth a look!

Take a look at the demo site and scroll down to discover more about the features of this stylish new Blogger template.

Create Custom Permalinks for Blogger Posts

I discovered a lovely surprise when logging into Blogger to create a post this morning: the ability to create custom permalinks for posts!

Usually when we create a post, the URL generated for the item page is based on the post title. By creating a custom URL we can use a different structure which can help posts rank higher in search engines, as well as being more user-friendly.

June 24, 2012

Even more fonts for Blogger with Google Web Fonts

Using the Blogger Template Designer, we can spruce up our blogs using any of the many custom fonts available. This selection is powered by Google Web Fonts, and offers a wide variety of styles for almost any type of blog.

However, if none of these fonts are suitable for your design, take a look at the huge selection (currently over 500) of freely available web fonts available from Google.

We can use any of these fonts in our Blogger templates by adding just a few lines of code. Here's how to use any Google Web Font in your Blogger template design in just a few simple steps.

June 19, 2012

Smooth Scrolling to Anchor Links on Page with Blogger (Quick Tip)

When writing long posts or pages in Blogger, it can be useful to have links enabling readers to quickly scroll to the relevant section of the page.

An example of this which is found in most Blogger sites is the "Comments" link which when clicked jumps to the comment section on the post item page.

Rather than jump sharply to the linked section, it may be desirable to scroll gracefully. This provides the reader with a glimpse of the content they are skipping over, and is a nice touch to add to a well-designed site.

Here's a quick tip to scroll smoothly to a section link further down (or up!) a page in Blogger.

June 13, 2012

Community College - A Premium Blogger Template

Community College is a premium Blogger template with a difference! This design offers a means of creating a simple web presence rather than a simple Blogger "blog". It is incredibly customizable, and when using this template you can create a fully fledged website in a matter of clicks!

Ideal for those wishing to develop a website for a school, college or community organization, it works equally well for small businesses or freelancers.

Take a look at the live demo for this template to see the design in action or find for high-resolution sceenshots below.

For a limited time, this template will be available at the introductory price of just $2.95!

May 26, 2012

Farewell to the Blogger in Draft Blog (and hello +Blogger!)

The Blogger team recently posted that The Blogger In Draft Blog Is Being Retired. But don't worry if (like me) you favour using all the shiny new stuff in the Blogger in Draft dashboard, that side of Blogger is not going anywhere. Phew!

Rather than using a separate blog to post details of the new features we can try out, the Blogger Team will be posting it on the +Blogger page instead.

Be sure to add the +Blogger page to your stream if you haven't already done so. In recent weeks there's been a lot of useful posts on the page, including details of interesting hangouts and detailed information on using Blogger to its best effect.

May 17, 2012

How to control the Attribution gadget when using the Template Designer

If you are using one of Blogger's new templates, you'll notice an "Attribution" widget which appears at the very bottom of your site. This will contain details of the template designer, a "Powered by Blogger" statement, and possibly attribution for any background images you've added through the Template Designer.

We can add copyright information to this gadget by editing through the Layout page in our dashboard, but by default are unable to change it's position or remove it.

For various reasons, you may want to remove this gadget from your Blogger layout. For example, if you have highly customized your template so it looks nothing like the original design on which it is based, or you would prefer visitors not to know that your site is operated using Blogger's free service.

Since removing the Attribution gadget is not a straightforward customization, I have developed a simple method we can use to remove this gadget and (if you choose) replace it with a gadget of your choosing.

May 15, 2012

Blogging for your Business Hangout


If you missed the Blogging for your Business hangout on Google+ today, you can watch it here instead:

May 02, 2012

Learn the Basics of Blogger and Get Certified - For Free!

If you are just starting out with Blogger, Alison offers a useful free e-course which you may find useful.

The Google Blogger course by Russell Stannard offers video training, an end-of-course assessment and Alison certification:

Upon completion of this course you will be able to create your own blog. You will know how to add dates, pictures, links, video and embedded video to your blog. You will understand how to preview and publish your blog. You will gain a good knowledge of the settings that allow you to edit your blog.

Once you've passed the module, you can choose to purchase a PDF or parchment certificate, share your achievement with a badge or simply provide a link to verify your certification.

Admittedly this is a basic course in using Blogger, though it would be very useful for those just starting out or as a refresher course for those who have not used Blogger in some time (the video tutorials provide insight into the new interface and template designer).

Be sure to check it out and let us know your opinions of this free course in the comments below.

April 26, 2012

Create a contact form with Google Docs?

While creating a client's website (using Blogger, of course), I decided to try using Google Docs to create a comprehensive contact form.

The form was wonderful: with a bit of tweaking, I was able to embed a CSS styled form (rather than use an iframe); validate required fields with jQuery; redirect to a custom "thank you" page, and even have the form submissions emailed directly to the client!

Feeling rather happy with the results, I created a similar contact form for the Blogger Buster contact page and was in the process of writing up a tutorial when I realized my inbox was rapidly filling up with spam. Which was unfortunately delivered by my Google Docs-based contact form.

Sadly, I haven't (yet!) been able to find a Blogger-compatible solution to create a Google-based contact form with spam filtering and emailed submissions, so I've reverted back to my previous contact form.

I'm still hopeful that a method to prevent (most) spam submissions is still possible, so I've decided to publish a simple version of my Google Docs form tutorial for anyone who would like to use it.

April 24, 2012

How to create a contact form for Blogger using Kontactr

Contact forms enable visitors to our sites to send us emails without having to expose our email address to potential spammers.

I've been using Kontactr to embed a contact form in this site for years now, and still believe it is the most ideal solution for those using the Blogger platform. However, it seems my previous tutorial is now out of date!

Recently, Kontactr added CAPTCHA functionality to their forms which makes even more difficult for spammers to abuse the facility. We can also now customize the appearance of the form to match the design of our sites.

Here is a comprehensive tutorial to help Blogger users embed a functional, customizable contact form for their blog using Kontactr.

April 23, 2012

Free Blogger Template - CleanRed Portfolio Design

CleanRed is a portfolio style template, originally created for CSSHeaven.org and now converted for use as a Blogger template.

CleanRed Homepage, including a welcome message above the latest posts

This template is wholly compatible with Blogger's Template Designer. All fonts, font colours, background colours and widths may be changed through the interface. It's even possible to change the layout while retaining most of the template's stylistic properties!

How to Back-up, Restore and Upload New Templates to Blogger

Although we can customize virtually any element of our Blogger templates using the new Template Designer, there may be occasions when we want to upload a premade template. Similarly, we may need to back-up an existing template before making significant changes, or upload a previously used template to restore a blog to a former design.

The method and application for backing up and uploading templates has changed significantly since the last time I wrote on this subject, so in this updated post I'll explain how to back-up, restore and upload new templates using the new Blogger interface.

April 21, 2012

I've created the official page for Bloggerbuster on Google+. Take a look and if you like what you see please follow us =)

April 19, 2012

Adding a Google+ Badge to Blogger (Updating my Blogger Template)

Adding a Google+ badge to our Blogger templates enables readers to easily connect with our Google+ page. This can be achieved in just a few simple steps by adding a Google+ Badge gadget; it's also possible to customize the badge and change the display effect.

As part of updating my Blogger template, I added a badge to the sidebar which enables readers to directly connect to the official Blogger Buster page on Google+. I've documented my methods here for other Blogger users who may find this tutorial useful.

April 18, 2012

How do I find a blog on Blogspot?

Many blogging services and social networks allow visitors to search for sites and users hosted on their service by keywords or tags.

For example, those visiting Tumblr can search for posts tagged "Blogspot", or visit Wordpress.com to search for posts tagged with Google.

Unfortunately, there is no built-in feature to find posts or blogs which are hosted on Blogger. So in this post I'll explain methods you can use to connect with like-minded people and find interesting blogs to read on Blogspot.

Adding threaded comments to a customized blog (Updating my Blogger Template)

Since deciding to update my Blogger template, one of the features I've been most looking forward to using is threaded comments. This enables us to reply directly in response to comments left on a post.

After diving into reams of code and going a very long way about updating my template to include this feature, I stumbled across a very simple way to add this functionality to older Blogger templates.

To help anyone else using a custom Blogger template include threaded comments for their site, I've written this quick tutorial which (unlike my original method!) should get you up and running with comment replies in no time!

April 17, 2012

Uploading a custom favicon to Blogger (Updating my Blogger Template)

Blogger Buster Favicon
Back in June last year, the Blogger team enabled Blogger users to upload their own favicon to replace the default Blogger icon.

Initially favicons could only be uploaded if they had been converted into .ico format, though it's now possible to upload a square-shaped favicon in .png.gif or .jpg format as long as the file size is below 100kb.

I prefer to use this built-in feature instead of the methods I'd previously used to add favicons to my Blogger sites, particularly as the icon is hosted on the root of our domain (*.blogspot.com/favicon.ico or custom-domain.com/favicon.ico).

Since I have updated my icon as part of updating my Blogger template, I've documented my method (and troubleshooting) for others who are updating their Blogger templates.

Updating My Template to use Blogger's New Features

As many of you may have noticed, I've not been actively using Blogger for some time due to illness and maternity leave. So many updates have happened in my absence and until now I have barely had time to update my own sites.

Looking through all of Blogger's recent updates and settings, I've realized there are lots of tweaks I need to perform to update this site. Since I haven't already written about most of these Blogger customizations, I'll be documenting my progress for anyone else wishing to update their sites to use Blogger's new features over the next few days.

April 16, 2012

Redirecting from Blogspot.com to country specific domains

In efforts to country specific laws, Blogger have begun redirecting blogs hosted on blogspot.com subdomains to country specific domains (ccTLDs).

For example, if you are in the UK and viewing a Blogger hosted blog which would usually have be hosted on a *.blogspot.com subdomain, you'll be redirected to *.blogspot.co.uk.

This is happening to enable Blogger to censor content on a country-specific level. For example, if the UK asked Blogger to remove  a page of content from a blog, the page would no longer be available to view by visitors in the UK; it would however be available to view in other countries.

April 14, 2012

Blogger rolling out local domains?

While creating a site for a local company on Blogger today, I noticed the blogspot domain the site is hosted on suddenly changed from blogspot.com to blogspot.co.uk.

The site can still be accessed using the dot.com url I originally created, though it's automatically redirected to the dot.co.uk version.

So far I haven't been able to find any information about this new enforcement of local sub-domains, and may only assume this is a new feature the Blogger team are rolling out.

Have any of you noticed a new local domain extension for your Blogger hosted site? Please let us know what you think about this update in the comments below.

Image credit: The Booklight

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Browse through the Archives

All existing posts are still available to view while I'm working on the site, albeit seen in a much simpler interface. Feel free to browse through the archives to find tutorials, templates and articles to help you build a better blog:

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