Thursday, January 31, 2008

Greasy Blog: Search, 3 column template, Blogrush etc

As you can see I've started messing around with more features for the blog. I won't try to be too meta about blogging about my blog, but they are tweaks that elevate one's blog from being the stock blog.

Search Bar

This isn't too useful for now, but as we expand with more and more articles, it'll come in handy. I found the article on Widgetbox , which I guess has a bunch of widgets for your blog. The cool thing about it is that the widgets are as simple to install as just inputting your blog url and the width of your search bar, and basically it'll install on its own.

My only gripe is it doesn't make it easy to tweak once you've already installed, unless you sign up for a (free) membership. When I had to tweak the search width I just ended up deleting the old one and installing a new one.

Still, the search bar seems to work like a charm.

3 Column Blogger Layout

I usually try to design all my sites to be viewable on an 800x600 monitor, but my stats show monitor resolutions that small only account for 2% of the views on this blog so far. Most are either 1280x1024 or 1024x768. So that means it's okay to expand a little.

Blogger's default layouts are perfectly functional, but they don't offer 3 columns by default. Luckily, you can tackle the layout template yourself, if you want to get your feet soaking wet in HTML, XML, and CSS.

I found a blog (Tips for New Bloggers) that takes the guesswork out of it by showing you exactly what values to edit to get a 3 column blog. I still want to alter it so the two thin columns are on the right, and to widen the main reading area a little, but that'll be for a later time (I already spent an hour trying to get it to work, but I couldn't get it perfectly right).

Update: I ended up switching to a completely self-contained template I found at Finalsense, simply called Keyboard. It's a 3 column template that has that gaming keyboard image that I haven't gotten around to changing yet. It looks cool and appropriate, but unfortunately I actually don't have such a keyboard (though I've got a perfectly fine Labtec wireless keyboard and mouse).


Blogrush is a widget that's kind of an RSS exchange for blogs. You build credits based on your traffic, that shows your article headlines on other blogs that use the widget. You can filter what category of blogs will be shown on your widget, and it seems to be working well so far.

I'm still prioritizing content over traffic promotion right now, but slowly but surely I will be putting more effort into driving traffic into the site. There are plenty of articles out there that are all about driving traffic, and it's all a matter of what you take advantage of.

Update: I've also now signed up with Feedburner, BlogExplosion, and BlogCatalog, as that article suggested.

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