Web 2.0 for Professional Use/Blogs and Blogging/Blog Hosts
Blogger is an easy-to-use weblogging platform operated by Google. If you already have a Gmail account, or use any other Google services or applications, you can use your Google username or OpenID to login to the service.
Blogger offers a multiplicity of templates to build a unique website. From simple minimalist design to complex themes, your blog can be as uncluttered or content-rich as you want. The Blogger platform also offers various usability features like user polls, slideshows, videos, pictures, and even Google Adsense advertisements if desired along with many third-party applications.
Intuitive and fully-functional, Blogger is among the best free tools on the web for weblog publishing.
When creating a new blog, Blogger takes a very methodical and simple approach to getting your first site up and running. Blogger makes this into a three-step process; I will flesh out this process for disambiguation:
- Sign in or sign up using your Google Account or OpenID
- Next, name your blog and choose your web address. The basic settings will force you to host your weblog in Blogger with the web address http:// _________.blogspot.com. You also have the option to utilize the advanced setting tab and host your site outside of Blogger, with any host, using any web address.
- Now, its time to actually design your blog. You may choose from 16 predefined templates, most of which have further customizable elements within the theme. You may also change the layout of page here.
- Your page as been made! Now all you have to do is add whatever content you want.
For the professional
If you need to complete a collaborative project, Blogger allows up to 100 different authors to contribute to a group blog.
Squarespace is a unique blogging platform ideally suited for the professional out to create a distinctive blog. What sets Squarespace apart from the competition is its new, robust design system that personifies the advancements of Web 2.0. With Squarespace, every feature of a blog’s design can be tweaked with intuitive drop-down menus. That means anyone can alter any aspect of their blog’s appearance – layout, navigation, colors, fonts – without any coding knowledge whatsoever (though editing the code manually is still an option).
Squarespace offers 5 separate pricing plans. The basic plan costs $8 per month and includes 1GB of storage space and 75GB of bandwidth per month.
Squarespace offers a wide range of features that allow for extensive customization of any web page. These include:
- 60 ready-made professionally-designed templates
- Point-and-click menu system for manipulation of every aspect of a site's design
- Full CSS access
- 99.98% uptime
- Built-in blogging system
- Built-in photo gallery
- Membership permission system
- Custom-built WYSIWYG editor
- Stat tracking
Squarespace offers a 14-day, no-strings-attached free trial that requires only an email address. Once a registered member of Squarespace, members can begin to build their blog using the intuitive Squarespace GUI. Squarespace's website also features a manual for new users, video tutorials and an FAQ to answer more complex questions.
For the professional
Squarespace is packed with more features and options than any free blogging host, and is an optimum solution for the professional looking to create a unique blog. The only downside to Squarespace is its $8, $14, $20, $30, or $50 monthly fee. Professionals creating a blog for the first time would be satisfied with the Basic plan, but those wishing to support multiple users or take advantage of some of Squarespace's more advanced features will need to pick a more expensive package. Squarespace is recommended for those professionals who already have a clear goal in mind for their website or blog; those just learning and experimenting in the blogging world would be better suited by a free blog host.
A "Tumblelog" is a simple, streamlined blog that aims to let users post content - text, photos, quotes, links, chats, audio, video, etc. - as quickly and easily as possible. Tumblr is unique for its accessibility, as well as how fully it embraces posts of all media, and how it connects users through its "follow" and "reblog" features. You can pick different ready-made themes for your Tumblr, or more advanced users can customize their design with HTML. When you sign up with and log in to Tumblr, you have a dashboard, which is a live feed displaying recent posts from all the Tumblr users you follow. You can "follow" any Tumblelog, which makes their posts automatically display on your dashboard. Also, you can "Reblog" any post into your own Tumblelog, which makes that user's post display in your own Tumblr along with an attribution to the original Tumblr (or several attributions, depending on how popular that post becomes). If users add content of their own to the original post, that content shows up as a "note" at the bottom of that post.
Tumblr is completely free for all users, and there are no specified space limits yet. However, the developers have expressed intent on their Help page that they may offer additional, advanced options for a certain price in the future.
Every design aspect of a user's Tumblr is customizable using HTML. Users can also import posts from up to five other sites, and a user can be logged into Tumblr in up to five different browsers without having to re-login. This is ideal for those who want to access Tumblr from several machines, like a laptop, a desktop computer, and a mobile phone, simultaneously. The Goodies page lists some special features,like the ability to post instantaneously from a mobile phone by sending a text message/photo to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tumblr has no comments feature built into it, but users can add that feature using code from Disqus.
Upon login, the user goes to the Dashboard, which displays recent posts from all the Tumblelogs that user follows, in reverse chronological order from top to bottom, with each post in a separate block. At the top of the dashboard are several links for making a new post, depending what kind of media it is: Text, Photo, Quote, Link, Chat, Audio, or Video. Tumblr places a limit on only one audio post per day. There is also a link where the user can view all the Tumblelogs he follows, and from there, how many Tumblrs are following him.
For the professional
Tumblr, because of its immediate, bite-sized nature, is not as oriented toward professional use as other blogs like Wordpress or Squarespace. But some professionals use Tumblr as a blog to complement their business, like Marco Arment's Instapaper blog, or local musician Allison Weiss's A Day in the Life of Allison Weiss. For now, Tumblr seems to be a good fit for professional writers who already have their primary online presence (web site, portfolio or blog) but want to supplement that with a little extra content, or discover other writers/Tumblrs, especially because Tumblr makes it so easy for users to track the popularity of posts they make. Tumblr is probably the most social-network-oriented blogging platform available.
WordPress is an open-source blogging application that allows its users to generate their blogs via a simplistic content manager. The basic format of the manager is similar to Google’s Blogger, featuring a “dashboard” from which the user may edit, delete, or add posts on multiple blogs. However, WordPress surpasses its rival in design options and statistical monitoring. The site currently boasts around 4,500,000 blogs, some notable users being Newsweek’s technology columnist Dan Lyons and Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling. CNN’s Political Ticker and People Magazines’ Style Watch are also hosted off WordPress’ technology.
Creating a blog is free at WordPress.com. This option comes with a 3GB of space and a variety of features such as an integrated statistics system and spell check.
A premium package is also available for those needing more space. You can add 5 GB for $20/year, 15 GB for $50/year, or 25 GB for $90/year. Only premium users are allowed access to CSS customization and remote hosting however.
WordPress offers many innovative features for its free users:
- 75 templates that tend to be wider, spare designs with greater flexibility.
- Option to add pages within a blog
- Option to import entries or entire blogs from another service such as Livejournal or Blogger
- Support for plugins and widgets, including calendars
- A tagging system
- A monitor that tracks the number of site visits and comments posted.
One’s blog on WordPress is managed via a top navigation bar that only shows up when logged in. The top deck accesses your account, your “dashboard,” and a ‘new post’ option. The bottom deck features the tabs: write, manage, design, comments and upgrades. Below that is your ‘dashboard’ which displays your total posts, drafts, tags, and various other statistics.
For the professional
WordPress is an ideal launching pad for a novice blogger due its user-friendly organization and aesthetic appeal. Also, the tagging system optimizes exposure to a wider audience. For experienced users, the site allows for remote hosting and offers advanced design options, including customizing CSS and the option to create more pages within a blog.
Thus, a portfolio or professional blog can be mocked up in WordPress as easily as an online journal. And though embedding videos from an outside source such as YouTube is relatively simple, uploading photos takes a little more time than Blogger. However the placement options are exactly the same. Whereas a site such as Tumblr is multimedia based, WordPress facilitates text more than other media.
Click here to get started on a WordPress blog
Platforms to use with caution
Facebook is a social network that puts primacy on user profiles. However, Facebook may be a viable option for your business depending on your audience and the manner of your business. Bars, clubs, companies dealing in promotions, and others are among the most commonplace businesses utilizing the Facebook platform. Facebook is a great option for free advertising and promotion as well as those companies with a youthful audience.
If you are looking to create an internal company-wide website for employees, Facebook may also be an appealing option. You may limit the viewership of your company’s Facebook profile to members, allowing you to create a site where only members can participate. Perhaps the biggest drawback to Facebook is that participants must be members of the Facebook community and have personal profiles. Personal profiles collating with workplace politics may pose privacy and human-resources problem.
Read more about Facebook in the Social media section.
MySpace is another social network with limited utility for professionals. Because anyone can make a profile and participate with your site, Myspace is another questionable platform that may not benefit professional web writers.
As the largest social network, MySpace reaches a large audience. Various clubs, organizations, stores—apparel and otherwise, and musicians use MySpace for promotion and even selling goods (either through paypal or ebay links). Keep in mind that MySpace has a youth-leaning audience.
Read more about Myspace in the Social media section.
Platforms to avoid
Xanga and LiveJournal allow users to create personal weblogs. The majority of LiveJournal and Xanga users are high-school students: most of these blogs are personal diaries posted online. Do not use these tools as a platform for professional web writing. The connotations associated with these platforms will damage the credibility you may try to present to your audience.