This post is part of TechAirlines' biweekly PrizeFly series. Every other Monday, we compare key features of 2-4 similar products and crown one as the "prized flyer".
Do you own an online blog? Are you planning on starting one? A question asked by many people when they first start a blog is, “Which platform should I use?” There are many self-hosted solutions available, but not everyone wants to go through the hassle of learning how to and setting up a domain name, web host, etc…
Thankfully, several free blogging platforms exist, the most popular ones being WordPress.com and Blogger. How does each compare? Let’s find out and crown one as the “prized flyer”.
Table of Contents
WordPress.com is a free blogging service from Automattic and is powered by the free open-source blogging software of the same name. It was launched in 2005 and allows anyone to easily start a blog without requiring any technical knowledge. There are hundreds of free and premium themes to choose from and each theme comes with additional options.
Blogger is a free blogging service launched by Pyra Labs in 1999 and acquired by Google in 2003. It is one of the earliest blogging tools and is often credited for popularizing blogging in general. Google recently launched a dramatically redesigned interface for Blogger. Several templates along with a template designer is available for customization without any technical knowledge although users are free to use their own themes.
Tumblr is not included in this comparison because its main intended purpose is for microblogging (sharing small bits of information, videos, images, etc…) rather than writing regular blog posts. While both WordPress.com and Blogger can also be used for microblogging (with WordPress.com even adding tumblelog features), Tumblr functions quite differently (with a greater focus on following other blogs) and therefore, is not being included here.
1 – Writing
Blogging is all about writing. Both platforms have their own unique interface for editing posts and managing your content.
WordPress.com’s dashboard gives you quick access to your posts, pages, categories, and comments. A “QuickPress” editor is available to quickly post directly from the dashboard. Recent comments can be managed directly from the dashboard. WordPress.com’s post editor provides plenty of options, including post revisions and excerpts. A distraction-free full screen editing mode is also available. You can create static pages and even create a regular non-blog website using these pages.
Posts can also be created directly from the toolbar without leaving the current page. WordPress.com recently improved support for tumblelog posts, like Quotes, Links, Videos, etc…
Blogger’s dashboard gives you a quick glance at your blog’s stats and an overview of your blog. The post editor is always full screen with post options located on the right sidebar. A useful extra feature is its integration with Google Dictionary and Translate. Like with WordPress, you can create static pages, although Blogger limits it to 20 pages.
Round 1 Results
In terms of the actual editor, both platforms are very similar and it mostly comes down to personal choice.
WordPress.com takes this round for providing more posting options and a slightly more user friendly interface.
Blogger’s editing interface is very similar to that of WordPress.com, but provides a bit less flexibility.
2 – Commenting
One of the best things about publishing posts is getting responses to them. How does each platform compare in terms of commenting?
WordPress.com’s commenting system allows readers to leave a comment by logging into their WordPress.com, Twitter, or Facebook account. Alternatively, readers can comment using their email address. There are no Captcha tests because WordPress uses Akismet for spam filtering.
WordPress logs the commenter’s IP address and displays it to the blog administrator. When managing comments, administrators can edit any comment. Because commenters are required to login to an account or leave an email, it is easy for the administrator to contact any commenter.
Blogger’s comment system allows readers to leave a comment by logging into their OpenID accounts (including Google and WordPress.com). Commenting via Name/URL and even Anonymous are also available. The blog owner can choose which options are available. There is an option to use a Captcha test in addition to Google’s in-house spam filtering system. Blogger users are, however, allowed to use any third-party commenting system, such as Disqus (more on that in customization).
Blogger does not provide many options for managing comments. The administrator can either Approve, Remove Content (display a deleted message), Delete, or Mark as Spam. Unlike WordPress.com, administrators cannot reply to comments directly from the dashboard.
Round 2 Results
WordPress.com takes this round for providing a better commenting system built-in
3 – Media and Storage
Plain text blog posts are boring, which is why its important to add images and other forms of visual media to posts.
WordPress.com provides all accounts with 3 GB of free storage for images and documents. The dashboard includes a media manager. Additional space is available through paid upgrades. Audio and video can be uploaded with a paid upgrade. Popular embed codes like YouTube can be used.
Blogger’s media is shared with Picasa Web Albums and therefore users are provided with 1 GB of free storage. Videos can also be uploaded, but its significantly better to just use YouTube. The video uploader integrates with YouTube so you can easily embed any video. Additional space is available through paid upgrades.
Round 3 Results
WordPress.com wins this round for providing more free storage space and an easier to use media manager.
Blogger provides less storage space than WordPress.com and its media manager isn’t as great.
4 – Customization
The default theme for blogs is often boring and overused. You want to make your blog look unique. How does each platform compare in terms of customization?
Blogger provides 27 different templates and 7 dynamic views templates. These newer templates can be edited through the template designer. However, there does not exist any theme specific settings, beyond colors and background images. Additional “classic” templates are also available.
Round 4 Results
WordPress.com themes are more powerful in terms of individual theme options, but it lacks any more theme customization beyond that. Custom CSS is only allowed via a paid upgrade.
5 – Statistics
How many people visit and read your blog? Statistics software help you track your visitors, giving you insight into your readers’ behavior, such as which posts are the most popular and what sites your visitors are coming from.
WordPress.com uses its own built-in real-time stats system. It provides a bar graph counting the number of visits each post receives. It also provides information on which sites visitors come from, what search terms they used, which countries your visitors are from, and which sites your visitors went to next (after clicking a link to an external site).
Blogger also provides its own built-in real-time stats system. It provides data very similarly to WordPress.com, however includes information on the browsers your visitors are using. However, it lacks WordPress.com’s summary tables, which lets you easily compare the changes in traffic on each individual post over time.
Round 5 Results
WordPress.com is limited to its built-in stats system, although it is slightly more powerful than that of Blogger.
So what is the final weighted score of each platform?
Therefore, with a score of 4.5 to 4.0, the “prized flyer” for blogging is…
Which blogging platform is your favorite? Vote in the poll above and share your reasons for choosing that particular platform in the comments.