Since our first foray into fully customizing a Blogger blog beyond the standard templates or pre-built templates, we've been exploring possibilities with other blogs and seeing how far we could push the functionality included in Blogger, but also trying to capitalize on Google's other free services. Pinch Gallery's website redesign project gave us the opportunity to take Blogger even further. We took advantage of both Blogger and Picasa and created a beautiful website with a rich visual experience that matched the feel of the store's unique brand.
- Low cost to deploy
- No need to saddle a client with extra hosting fees and server issues
- Ease of use for the client using full range of Google services
- Self-sufficient, once launched little need for site maintenance by web development firm
- Google karma and search engine benefits
- Alternative to overly-complex off-the-shelf software packages
How did we do it?
Created a CSS template like any other website
Got creative with IF/ELSE statements
With the Pinch website we wanted the homepage to look a bit different than other pages within the site, and with a little if/else mastery, you can make some pages look or behave different. You can make the homepage different than the interior pages, some interior pages different than other interior pages, etc. For example, on the homepage of the website we wanted to have the photo gallery, but didn't want that section to be in the rest of the pages. Simply wrapping that div with an if/else statement like the one below let us accomplish that!
<b:if cond="data:blog.url == data:blog.homepageUrl">You can learn more about if/else statements in Blogger, and other manipulation, on this help page.
Used the Pages for the "standard" web pages in the site
|Renew Pilates, Easthampton MA|
Organized the main content of artists and event announcements as blog articles
The major types of content that we identified for the Pinch site as being the ones that would be continually updated were the new artist bios, organized by categories, and special event announcements. As we didn't care for these two content types to be co-mingled on a page, at least not one being displayed to visitors, we took steps such as limiting the display of the blog on the homepage to one article only. After that we created managed lists, and label pages, that limited the articles by labels that we specified such as "artist", "event", or combinations such as "artist" and "jewelry". Using this technique we broke up the "blog" feel of the site while still making use of it and getting past the 10 page limitation.
Created a slideshow and stored photographs in Picasa
We knew that with this project that the success of the website resided squarely in the photography of the pieces, and their showcasing within the site. At the same time, we wanted to make sure that the client was easily able to add photos to articles/pages, add photos to an album that was used for the slideshow, and make the resizing necessary to properly fit the space allocated in the design. Picasa and Picnik to the rescue! Using these two services the client is able to easily upload and store photographs, resize images to fit the slideshow dimensions, rearrange the order of the slideshow and much more. The slideshow functionality is a Flash movie that is generated by Picasa using the "embed" functionality; when the page loads it gets the photos and ordering information necessary and automatically creates the new Flash file, no coding necessary and no extra software required.
And the result?
In the words of Jena Sujat, owner of Pinch Gallery,
"My two favorite things about the new pinch website are how beautiful it is and how easy it is for customers, and for us at pinch, to use. I am grateful to be able to update almost everything myself, quickly and easily, and to see the changes immediately. It makes for easy editing and instant gratification. I feel in control of the store's web content like I never have before."
* Not to bash Wordpress, but when bloggers speak highly about Wordpress, one of their main reasons for choosing it is the ability to really customize the look of their blog using the wealth of templates and code availability, but if that's the case, why are the majority of those top 100 blogs that are Wordpress blogs so... generic looking? This also doesn't apply to the "free/hosted" Wordpress.com solution, where your design freedom is limited to the available templates.