Confluent Forms LLC, located in Easthampton MA, is a boutique branding, graphic design, web design, web development, Blogger development, and PHP/MySQL application development firm providing services to customers from the Fortune 100 to local non-profit organizations and academic institutions. Serving Western Massachusetts and beyond.

Interesting designs are widely available for your Blog

by on February 1, 2010
Last updated on
Being able to fully customize the layout and design of your blog, while still being hosted by a free blog platform, is unique to Google's Blogger service. Sure, other blog services have the ability to select from a number of selected template designs (and Bloggers are by far the most boring), and all of the services include the ability to modify the page elements in your layout, but Blogger goes the farthest by allowing users to modify the actual code of the template through standards compliant CSS*.

There are three directions you can take your blog design customization:
  • You can make small changes to a Blogspot template
  • You can import a freely available template from elsewhere and customize it
  • You can build a template based on an existing site and use that for your blog (ours is modeled after our corporate site)
The level of customization available to you is entirely dependent on your programming ability. If you are a CSS wizard, you'll have little difficulty turning any design you like into a blog template (stay tuned for an Advanced Level article on doing this).

For everyone else I recommend attempting small changes to one of the default templates provided by Blogger or venturing out to find a template that speaks to you. Thankfully there are a number of sites that provide hundreds, perhaps thousands of templates absolutely free that are SIMPLE to install and customize:

Of these sites my favorite by far is the BTemplates site that is both easy to use, is easy to search for templates based on a criteria, and provides well over 1,000 templates to choose from.

With any of these sites the process to use one of these designed templates is the same:
  1. choose the design you like by downloading the .zip file to your computer
  2. unzip the zip file so you now have a folder with files inside including a .xml file
  3. go to the Layout tab in Blogger and click on "Edit HTML" in the sub-navigation
  4. upload the template from your hard drive by clicking on the "Browse" button and selecting the .xml file you just unzipped
  5. click on the "Upload" button
Don't forget to backup your existing layout by clicking on the link "Download Full Template" BEFORE you upload the new template!

In uploading your new template you might receive a few small error messages regarding conflicts; these sometimes occur when a page element that you are currently using is not set up in the template you're installing. Agree to remove the element, then once you have the new template established, re-add the page element and your content should still be there.

At this point you should be able to click on the link to "View Your Blog" and see your old content in the new layout design. Based on the template you might see items that don't make sense in your site, leftovers from the original developer. Again, based on your coding comfort level, you can go into the "Edit HTML" page within Blogger and make direct changes to the template code which can include anything from changing a background photograph to updating the style sheet to use a different font. The changes you make are entirely up to you!

Next article: Blog tip #4: Gain insights into your visitors using Analytics
Previous article: Blog tip #2: Domain names are inexpensive, no excuses

* CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheet, more information found here.

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