Why blinging your blogs and wikis can drive you crazy!

Why blinging your blogs and wikis can drive you crazy!

So you set up a blog or a wiki- great you achieved that! For a few days life is good; then you start thinking that everyone else’s looks nicer than yours…. So you decide to amend that. This is where the frustration starts to settle in. We all get sucked into the same trap. Over the last week my two friends, Frances and Sue have both set up blogs (and in the past few weeks – wikis). Both have then spent hours trying to get more out of their site’s look. End result they start going crazy; things never go to plan!

To make matters worse, they improve the look of their site, so then I can’t stand the look of my site, so then need to bling up my blog. Unbelievable – with all my experience I really should know better. So this post is dedicated to all those, like us, who just have to do it because we like our sites to reflect who we are!

Personally I like Sue’s solution on her blog, the presentation theme she uses has the option of bringing in photos from flickr that have been tagged with the tag name she nominates. Quick and easy, looks nice and clean. She is using the theme Worldpress Silver II. This means she has not had to stuff around with anything. Except for the fact that I think she spend half a day trying each different theme until she found one she liked (would be nice is there was a quick like to a list of which edublog themes supports additional theme options and what these options are).

I could not use these theme because she is using it. So I decided I would insert my own customised header. That is easy; create in Photoshop – find a theme that supports your own header and done! Especially since I was using Regulus theme should be simple.

Hehehe, I should have known better. First you have to link to a URL that has the theme. So had to set up Flickr account. Would not like to Flickr account. So googled and found a suggestion to locate at OurMedia (great that meant I had to set up account with Internet Archive as well). Cool – did that! Nope, still did not work! So I thought maybe there is a problem with putting it on those types of site. So then I remembered that I get some free web space with my broadband account. Problem – had never tried to do it before and had no idea. Time to phone a friend – thankfully my friend Phil talked me through how to do it – learnt how to set up website using FrontPage (yes I know Dreamweaver is better) and how to remote transfer files to website. New skill learnt! But no, didn’t work. I must be doing something wrong!

So then decided to change theme because I could not let their blogs look nicer (the principal). Amazing when I tested another theme, that supported your own header, the linking to the URL worked. Only problem was the header size you need depends on the theme. Each theme has a different size header required (would also be nice if each stated what size works best – at least Regulus does that). So I discovered that Fleshy, Fauna and LetPrime all support headers (there are probably more themes at Edublog that do but it really gets frustrating searching). Thanks Graham for putting me onto LetPrime.

So after a lot of hard work, I changed to Fleshy. But still was not totally happy, especially how the text wraps too closely to pictures when they align in the text. So when Graham suggested LetPrime I thought that is a good idea – looks nice. Spent another few hours changing the size and look of my header only to realise that it does not support any other pages at the top of the site except for Home and About (sorry if I have that information wrong).

Back to Fleshy I went. Though picture was still bugging me! Mmmmm there must be a simple solution…. Idiot html. Definitely worth getting a basic understanding of html as it does occasionally help you out. I use the HTML Quick List (which I keep bookmarked in my del.icio.us account) when I need to work out which code I need. All you do is click on HTML icon above then insert the required bit of code. This is the page of the HTML Quick list I used to make the picture fit better with the text. So now the picture looks ok in the post and I can live with the theme (and Frances – the IT lecturer – says that solves the problem – she also did not think of using the html).

My thoughts on why blinging sites can drive you crazy. Well the great thing about these sites is they set them up so that they are easy to use. Sure they can add more features, so we can customise more, however this often means the harder they are to use. That then defeats the point of making them easy to use. At the end of the day it is all user error because we want too much!

If you want to learn more about working with edublog blogs check out “how to edublogs v.2“.

One thought on “Why blinging your blogs and wikis can drive you crazy!

  1. Hey wench! I like this blinged blog much better. Better than that purple rubbish. And for the record it took me 8 h in the end to get what i liked for my blog. Got to bed at 2am. Need to be careful what words you use with the flickr functionality, or you can sometimes get pics you may not want! I spent a few hours mucking with customised headers in Regelus as well, but ditched it from sheer frustration.

    Now I just need to make my wiki look better! Muwhahhahaha

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