I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about WordPress, and one in particular has stuck with me: Which is better, Blogger or WordPress.org?
Not everyone agrees with me, but I don’t think one is better than the other (and web designers the world over just threw up their hands and groaned). Seriously, I don’t, and here’s why – they’ve got similar but different audiences, and similar but different purposes.
A quick comparison
Blogger targets people who are new to blogging, who want blogging to be easy, and are happy with a few basics. WordPress targets people who want more control over their blog or who want to develop more of a website than a blog using WP as a foundation.
Blogger has a visual template editor to help you make some layout changes, so you don’t need to alter the code. WordPress has themes, some of which have an editor, some that don’t, and a basic knowledge of how code works is helpful.
Blogger will only ever be a blog; WP can be any site you want it to be (provided you find an appropriate template or hire a web designer). Both are free, but the catch is that WordPress.org requires domain hosting somewhere, which can run about $6-10 USD a month. In comparison, every Blogger blog is hosted by Google at for free.
The real question you should be asking
So, the question is not really which one is better; the question is which one is better for you? What are you looking to do?
If you’re allergic to code, just want an easy-to-understand interface that can get you up and running in a few minutes, and don’t anticipate needing much more than a blog with a few static pages, then any blog host will do you fine – Blogger, WordPress.com, WordPress.org, Squarespace, TypePad, Tumblr - all of them are designed to make blogging fun and easy. Some are free, some are paid, some have only a limited number of template options, and others have a whole world of themes.
But if you’re looking for more control over the way your site looks and acts, if you want more of a website than a blog, if you’d like extra space for down the road, look into WordPress.org.
Are you ready for WordPress?
Here’s an honest truth: not everyone is ready for WordPress, and not everyone wants it.
Up until May 2011, I was over on Blogger. I loved it because it was so easy, and I had used Blogger for various blogs going back years. But I was quickly running out of space, and every day, I became a little more frustrated with what I couldn’t do.
I moved last May because I was outgrowing Blogger. I was running out of photo space (there used to be a limit of 1000 photos per Picasa album), I hated being limited to only 10 pages, and I couldn’t offer downloads on Blogger the way I can on WordPress. Those are just some of the reasons why I decided to move, even though I liked being on Blogger for the most part.
Ultimately, I made the switch to WordPress because it promised more control, and that was absolutely true. The problem was that I wasn’t really prepared to have control over everything, especially technical issues. Blogger took care of most problems for me; with WordPress, I am the tech department. Whenever a problem arises, I either have to do a lot experimenting and quick learning, or I have to hire someone to make the fixes for me. For some people, this can be annoying or downright terrifying, depending on your level of experience and comfort.
Another difference is that Blogger has a built in template editor; with WordPress, it depends on your theme. I couldn’t find a free theme that I liked that came with one, so I ended up buying a premium WP theme with a layout and template editor. Now, I can make the changes I want to make without altering code (I can do it if I have to, but I find it a somewhat frustrating experience). If you feel the same about code, then you’re going to want to find a theme you like right out of the box, find a theme that comes with an editor, or hire a web designer to get you started if you make the switch.
When it’s all said and done though, I’m really happy on WordPress. I understand the way it all works now, so I know what I can do with it and how to make it work for me. But the transition over was a little rough, and I’ve come to realize that it’s not for everyone… and that’s okay.
Because it’s not really about which is better, it’s more about what you’re looking to do.