Mainstreaming blogging and bringing web standards to a mass audience: Blogger

  • Blogger

Blog this! In 2002, as part of its sale to Google, Pyra Labs’s then incredibly popular Blogger platform reinvented itself. The new version was more competitive with Movable Type and other high-end blogging packages on the “features” level, while striving to be easier for novices to use than any other web publishing software.

Standards-based design for non-designers

New in this version were good-looking, standards-compliant (XHTML 1.0 Strict, CSS layout) templates created by some familiar names from the world of standards-based design. Plug, play, and go.

Structured in XHTML 1.0 Strict and laid out in CSS, the new templates not only gave Blogger users an appealing range of “instant” site designs, they also ensured that every Blogger user’s site would be standards-compliant and forward-compatible. Our role: designing three of those shiny new user templates.

The creative challenge was to come up with a distinctive look and feel that was not driven by brand attributes. This is harder than it sounds. Meaningful design springs from the soil of the brand. You design one way for a “fun, easy” brand, and quite another way for a brand that wishes to position itself as cutting-edge, for example. But the Blogger templates had to be flexible enough to appeal to almost any writer, writing in almost any style, on almost any topic.

Taking blogging and web standards mainstream

Our success, with that of our partners, took blogging mainstream and added literally millions of standards-compliant sites to the web. Bottom line: Your Aunt Maureen, your uncle George, and your cousin who is “afraid of ‘the computer’”—pretty much anybody—could now have a professionally designed weblog built with semantic markup and torture-tested style sheets.

Be kind when you view the templates: 2002 was centuries ago in web design history, and standards compliance in browsers was still evolving, limiting what could be done.

As this was a Google gig, many consultants and designers contributed. Adaptive Path consulted on ease of use and site flow. Doug Bowman of Stopdesign redesigned the site and led the creation of user templates by a team of design all-stars. In addition to his own designs and ours, Doug secured the services of Dan Cederholm (Simplebits), Todd Dominey, Dan Rubin, and Dave Shea (CSS Zen Garden).

Our responsibilities on this project

Design and code.