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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Review: New Dynamic Views for Blogger Blogs

Yesterday Blogger, the platform I run The Flirty Blog on, rolled out a new feature called "Dynamic Views for Readers " that gives viewers the option of viewing Blogger blogs in 5 new layouts.

Cool, was the first thought that popped into my head.

After touring through all five options I have to say that I think it's a great concept, but it was launched before it was fully developed.

blogger-how-to-view-dynamic-views
How to access the Dynamic View Options

Additionally, for those of us using our blog as part of our business presence, for marketing or as a visual branding vehicle, the new options offer us no benefit that I could see. For now, I've disabled the Dynamic Views option on The Flirty Blog until (of if ever) the features perform the way I need them to.

The main issues I have with implementing any of the Dynamic View options are the following:
  1. All sidebar content including the link back to my website, the archives, categories and widgets like my RSS link, Add This share link and Feedburner subscribe by email option (and ads if you have them) are removed.
  2. My customized color palette (backgrounds, text and link colors), which is part of my visual branding, is not included.
  3. My custom header which is also part of my visual branding is no longer included.
  4. Loading times were too long. The wait wasn't worth the novelty.
  5. Rather than wrap around, the turquoise style headers to the left of the search box overlap the page title if your screen resolution is too large or if your browser window isn't wide enough.
  6. There's no obvious way for a viewer to click on a button and go back to viewing a blog in its standard view rather than one of the new dynamic views.
The Dynamic Views are not for business owners: In fact, I'm quite shocked that apparently no consideration was given, whatsoever, to creating a dynamic view that was an enhancement to business owners. We are losing far more than we are gaining, imho.

Who the Dynamic Views are for: Very casual hobby bloggers (meaning people who blog for pleasure) who don't have a separate website to link to and no visual branding to incorporate into the way they present their blog content.

Below I took screen shots of The Flirty Blog in each view to show you how they work.


FLIPCARD

blogger-dynamic-flipcard-layout
Above is the "Flipcard" View. While I like the concept, you can't see what the post title is until you hover above each image, then it "flips" around to the back side of each image to show the title, date (does not include the year) and number of comments that have been left. WIth no option to view topics by category this view would be best used on a blog you're already in love with that you visit often.

Overall Impression: It looks great but would be difficult to navigate when searching for a particular topic.

blogger-dynamic-flipcard-closeup

And when you click on the flipped thumbnail it brings you to an ultra sterile post view like this:

blogger-flipcard-post-view


MOSAIC

blogger-dynamic-mosaic-layout
The "Mosaic" view above is visually appealing but has all of the same shortcomings as the "Flipcard" view preceding it. In fact, it has even less information available.

Below is a close up of when you hover over an image. It enlarges slightly to show the post title but doesn't include the date the image was posted or the number of comments left. Comments are less significant to me but I would like to easily see the post dates.

blogger-mosaic-closeup

And here is an example of the overlap problem I mentioned in the list above. Note how the turquoise box with the word "Mosaic" in it overlaps the blog title. It seems like either the blog title should drop and become two rows to wrap around the box or the font should become smaller to allow inclusion of the box with no overlap.

blogger-dynamic-views-style-button-overlap


SNAPSHOT

blogger-dynamic-snapshot-layout
At first glance I liked the "Snapshot" view the best. It includes a snippet of the post title and shows the number of comments on each post.

But I quickly realized that there is a major drawback to this layout as well. It literally displays each individual photo from every post in the snapshot timeline. If you only post one picture per post it's not a problem, but if you're like me and include several to dozens of images per post the redundancy would kill my desire to keep scrolling down to view the next set of images to find the next post.

Below you can view a before and after closeup of what happens when you hover over an image. The beginning of each post appears. I did like that but not enough to outweigh the drawback of not being able to view more posts simultaneously issue.

blogger-dynamic-snapshot-closeup


SIDEBAR

blogger-dynamic-sidebar-layout
For completeness, meaning the entire post is displayed from beginning to end, the "Sidebar" view is the best.

blogger-dynamic-sidebar-closeup
At first glance the sidebar option looks pretty great. It includes a thumbnail, part of the post title and comments... But when I increased my screen viewing size to enlarge my view of the content the layout failed.

sidebar-overlapping-post-titles
Note how the sidebar menu became overlapped as it stacked upon itself making it impossible to read the post titles :(


TIMELINE

blogger-dynamic-timeslide-layout
The fifth and final Dynamic View is called "Timeline." To be honest I'm still not sure how the posts are selected to be displayed in this view.

The first column includes an image (here the first image is distorted as it's pulled wider than the original image file) with the date, post title and intro to each post.

The second column includes post titles with snippets, but how are they chosen to be featured in the second column instead of the first? That wasn't at all clear to me and seemed rather random.

The third column includes all post titles but not in chronological order. Hover over a title and a drop down occurs that shows the post intro and number of comments

In Closing

Blogger has already stated that these view options will continue to undergo further development. A future update will include the inclusion of ads for those of you who use them.

I'll keep you posted if I ever decide to enable Dynamic Views on The Flirty Blog. I'm just waiting for enough improvements to make this feature mutually beneficial for both readers and blogging small business owners.


How to Disable the Dynamic Views Option

1. Go to your settings tab and select "Formatting."

2. Scroll down until you locate the "Enable Dynamic Views" option.

blogger-dynamic-view-settings

3. Once located, select the "NO" option and click on the orange "Save Settings" button at the bottom of the page.

bloggery-dynamic-views-off

2 comments:

  1. I agree that it is NOT for small business owners. I like the intractability of the new views, but would like more customizing options.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the comment Ashlie. I'm really hoping they develop this into a more business friendly feature because I really love the overall concept.

    ReplyDelete



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