Support and Community
No matter how easy a blog is to use, you can always use help with it, not just in solving problems, but also in getting advice on how to use your blog most effectively. There are two ways to get that kind of help, either via content created by the site itself, or from other users. Ideally, you want both from a blogging service, which is what both WordPress and Blogger offer.
If you've got a problem using Blogger, there's a general help area, as well as discussion forums and a few YouTube how-to videos.
Google's official help area is well organized by topic, subtopic and individual articles. The articles are clearly written, including plenty of screenshots so it's all easy to follow. The related articles list at the bottom of each article is useful as well. I didn't find it as well organized or as in-depth as WordPress, but still, it was impressive.
Blogger is a well-established service, so its forums are well trafficked, with hundreds of thousands of posts. Unfortunately, they're not particularly well-organized. For example, the "Something is Broken" area had 76,459 messages the last time I checked, but those messages were not broken down by topic -- you'll have to use search to try and find what you want. Mitigating that somewhat is that the search is fast and returns relevant information (no surprise given that Google powers it). But I found myself spending more time than I wanted searching and poking around for answers.
Because there are only a few YouTube videos, unless you're lucky enough to have a problem that one of them addresses, they're not that useful.
WordPress has a robust support site, with a great deal of in-depth help about a wide range of topics. It's organized cleanly, with sections such as "Customize My Site," "Create Content" and so on.
There are also finer-grained topics, such as Appearance, Widgets & Sidebars and Writing & Editing. When you get to the actual help pages, they're written in simple, clear prose and well-illustrated. The site is so well-organized that I was able to quickly find help topics whenever I needed them.
In addition, there are active user forums with a total of well over half-a-million posts. Forums are organized by topic, such as Widgets, CSS Customization and Support. As with all forums, there's both signal and noise here. But generally, I found them to be populated by intelligent discussions with knowledgeable people (including WordPress employees) who were helpful rather than confrontational, and clearly know their stuff. If all else fails, you can send email to support.
WordPress gets the edge here because its forums are more clearly organized and it's easier to quickly find a solution.
Both Blogger and WordPress.org are excellent choices for anyone looking for a hosted blogging service. WordPress is clearly aimed at those who are willing to spend time learning its features and can handle an occasionally confusing interface. It offers a wider range of tools for adding content, more widgets and better social networking integration, and superior customization.
Blogger, on the other hand, is much simpler to set up and easier to use; you'll be able to create a blog and manage it in less time and with less effort than is required in WordPress.
So the choice is clear: If you want the fullest set of blogging features, you want WordPress, but if you're looking for simplicity and streamlined blog creation and posting, Blogger is the way to go.
Preston Gralla is a contributing editor for Computerworld.com and the author of more than 35 books, including How the Internet Works (Que, 2006).
This story, "Blogging Service Shootout: Blogger vs. WordPress" was originally published by Computerworld.