Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dynamic views in Blogger: What are they? What should you do about them?

This article is an overview of Blogger's "dynamic views", including advice about their immediate implications for our blogs.

Blogger and Dynamic Views

In late April 2011, Blogger announced a new feature called Dynamic Views. There was a post about it in Blogger Buzz, Google's blog about Blogger.

As well, when people log into Blogger for the first time since the launch, they see an "over-the-top" window on the dashboard, placed so it has to be reacted to (either Dismiss or Learn more) before using most of the dashboard links.

If you have multiple Google accounts, you will be shown the pop-up the next time you log into each one of them.

For a while, the Learn More link wasn't working:  it's been fixed now, but just in case, you can find the article for blog owners and authors here (at time of writing, anyway).  It links to another article for blog-readers, which explains how they can view blogs using dynamic views, without going into technical details.

What are Dynamic Views

Basically, dynamic views are a totally different type of blog-template, that display posts from your blog's Feed (ie not the blog itself) in some new ways.  The designs look good - though most rely on your blog having an excellent picture for each post, and you can't (yet) control which picture is used.

Rather than trying to describe them, it's probably easiest if you take a look for yourself - these links take you to this blog (ie Blogger-HAT) in each  of the templates:

What are the consequences of this change

In the short term, no one (except possibly Google) is sure of the implications of dynamic templates.   You can't make them the default way to view your blog yet although for there is a simple way to give your readers the option to switch to a dynamic view.

But this comment, from the end of the Blogger Buzz announcement, is probably significant:
We’re previewing these templates early on so we can incorporate your feedback for a wider launch soon. At that time you’ll be able to customize these templates and select one for your blog. Please let us know what you think!
What we're seeing right now isn't the finished product.   (Which is just as well, because I have a lot of issues with the templates as they stand.  For starters: no statistics, no gadgets, search is limited to what's in your blog's feed, no comments, focus on pictures but no control over the main image for each post).  I expect these to be fixed - although I'm concerned about why they're limiting the view of blog to what's in the feed, unless it's part of the long-term plans.

For now, though, all you can do is either accept that some viewers will look at your blog using dynamic views and that this may mean you statistics aren't correct - or switch the dynamic templates off for your blog.

Turning off dynamic views for your blog

To start with, dynamic views are enabled for all blogs.   But you can turn them off:
  • Go to Settings > Formatting
  • 2/3 of the way down the page, there is an option for Enable Dynamic Views
  • Set it to Yes or No, depending on what you want to do.
  • Press Save at the bottom left corner of the page (you need to scroll down to it). 
If you do this, then any visitor who trys to view your blog using a dynamic view is shown a message (complete with Blogger logo) saying:
Sorry, dynamic views aren't available for this blog.
You'll be redirected to the blog homepage [link to the home page] momentarily. Learn more

To turning off, or not?

Initially, I wasn't going to bother turning dynamic views off for my blogs, even ones where dynamic views don't make sense eg because the blog looks more like a regular website.

But a later announcement of the Chrome extension for Blogger says that:
will automatically detect [your reader is] viewing a Blogger blog, and then display a Blogger icon (the orange ‘B’!) in [their] address bar which lets [them] select and view the blog in one of the five new dynamic views.below.

In other words, this will tell people [who use it] that they are looking at a site made with Blogger, even if you have gone to a lot of trouble to hide the fact.

Given that, I will be busy for the next 15 minutes, changing the setting to "off" for all except two of my blogs.   

Related Articles

Letting your readers switch to your blog in a dynamic view.

Announcement about dynamic views in Blogger Buzz,

Dynamic views - information for blog readers

Dynamic views - information for blog authors, publishers and administrators

Chrome extension for Blogger dynamic views

Planning changes to your blog - in private

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