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 However, it seems my previous tutorial is now out of date!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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