A blog is a frequently updated online journal, diary, opinion piece or commentary which provides ideas, thoughts, and reactions – and, in the case of corporate communications, can be used to promote company services or attitudes. It is a collection of posts which are short, informal, sometimes controversial, or very personal. A blog post is a piece of writing or other types of content published online.
Blog software is a type of service or platform that enables users to create their blog and publish the content on the internet, often on their own websites which they have created themselves, via a website builder. Once the preserve of programmers and IT specialists, these website builders enable even the most technically illiterate to create their own websites, often for free or at a minimal cost.
Typically a blogging platform is a content management system (CMS) which helps manage published content and update it regularly.
The 10 Most Popular Blog Software Solutions
1. Wix is one of the easiest website builders on the market, packed with features, templates and design options. The sit building interface is intuitive, and there are loads of site gadgets available. Hundreds of templates are available for specific businesses, such as restaurants and photography, and for other uses.
Specific features include online storage for site assets, appealing video backgrounds, animation for titles, and mobile apps. In addition, there is a free account option, a gallery of third party widgets, and strong blogging and commerce features.
The developers behind the software have also announced the beta release of Wix Code, which lets developers, and novices, build dynamic web applications.
The only thing Wix requires for somebody to get started with the program is an email address.
2. Zoho Sites is an all-in-one product to help businesses build great websites. It comes with third-party app integrations, including support for Google Adwords, Google Analytics, Google Maps, YouTube, Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. All these elements can be dragged-and-dropped into place on a website.
The software has a simple to use interface, which makes it easy not just to build a website, but to update content to it frequently. A click of a button allows a user to publish their site live from the preview screen.
Zoho Sites ensures that every website built on its platform automatically scales and looks good on a smaller screen, like a tablet or smartphone, without the user having to do anything extra. Before publishing a website, the user can preview how it appears on a mobile device, and make changes, if needed.
3. Blogger is one of the oldest blogging platforms on the market, and is currently owned by Google. That means that all a user needs to sign-up is a standard Google account. Blogger does not require any technical skill to use, and is a basic tool which allows users just to focus on content. It has many built-in tools, many of which are Google apps that integrate directly with Blogger.
The software includes hosting and provides users, by default, a sub-domain, although they have to acquire a custom domain separately. Blogger is easy to use but, compared to modern solutions like WordPress or Medium, is a little out-dated, and offers fewer features, templates, and expansions to enhance site design. No external plugins are available.
4. Medium is a publishing platform for blog posts, stories and articles. Medium has grown in popularity recently, and was developed by the creators of Twitter, and is designed to be as low maintenance as possible. It is, in essence, a community of writers and bloggers, all using the same-looking site design to share their opinions and stories on various topics.
Hosting is provided, but domains have to be separately acquired, although now users can link their own custom domains to individual stories on Medium.
Posts to Medium are published via a user’s Twitter account in a standardised template with no customisation. The interface is easy for readers to navigate, and additional features include built-in analytics, in-line commenting, and draft sharing.
5. WordPress is the most popular blogging platform of them all, currently powering more than 25% of the entire web. The software itself is free, but it has to be uploaded or installed on a web server which the user already manages.
There are actually two iterations of WordPress available. WordPress.com represents the browser-based site-building platform, and has both free and paid options; WordPress.org represents the always-free, open-source software that WordPress.com is based on, but users have to pay for a hosting service elsewhere.
Both versions of WordPress are relatively easy to use, and there are many online guides that provide further assistance. Many designs are free, whilst theme stores/theme houses offer hosts of custom designs.
WordPress offers extreme extensibility. There are more than 42,000 free plug-ins in the official directory, and countless others available elsewhere on the web.
6. Weebly is an intuitive and powerful online website builder which allows users to build and edit attractive looking sites without the need for technical knowledge. The program features a clear and simple editor interface, integrated ecommerce and newsletter marketing capabilities, and artful themes, some with video backgrounds.
In terms of advantages, Weebly delivers good-looking, responsive-design sites, blogs and online stores, and lets users get started for free. However, mobile sites are not customisable, there is a lack of reusable photo storage space, and free accounts do not allow selling on their sites.
7. Squarespace is one of the best all-in-one website building solution, and can be used to launch blogs, business sites, e-commerce stores, and much more. The software is subscription-based and hosting and domain names are provided with the subscription.
Squarespace is very easy to use, even for beginners, with a clear, intuitive and powerful interface. Publishing new content is simple as well, and is custom LayoutEngine lets users arrange blog content how they like through drag-and-drop functionality.
There is a wide range of attractive and modern designs from which to choose, and a range of the most important features are built-in from the start, whilst external plug-ins are available.
8. Drupal is a popular CMS, which has the flexibility to be used for blogging by enabling the Blog module. The use of content boxes in Drupal makes it ideal for displaying videos, and video thumbnail images, which also include other types of content.
The Video Embed field can be used to embed files from hosting sites like YouTube. Alternatively, vloggers can use the Video module to upload and play videos in any format. Many people choose Drupal to create their website because of its almost limitless possibilities for customisation with themes using CSS and HTML.
9. Joomla is a robust CMS which offers a lot of possibilities for bloggers. Video can be embedded in a blog post, or added using an extension. Creating a blog on Joomla is easy – all that is required is for a user to create a section on their site called “blog”, and add content there.
Joomla allows vloggers to showcase their videos and create an environment where users can easily navigate content. Using templates and extensions in Joomla, vloggers can customise the look and feel of the site. They can also choose to add a comment section using an add-on service like Disqus.
10. Yola is an online website builder that mainly targets small business owners who want a code-free, drag-and-drop way to create professional-looking commercial websites. Named after the Hindi word for “hatch”, Yola is loaded with tools for those who want to create their own website.
Most of the design in Yola is performed using a tab menu and horizontal toolbars, with tabs including Online Store, Page, SEO, Site, Style and Widgets. The Style Designer is a sidebar from which users can drag a colour, style, background images and other effects.
However, whilst Yola is easy to use, its lags key competitors in terms of mobile sites and blog publishing.
Choosing the best Blog Software
Blog software enables people to publish and update their online content easily, but whilst there are both free and paid versions available, it is important to determine needs, features, functionality and technical knowledge required, as well as the target audience. For the freelancer, independent blogger or small business, a simple, yet feature rich program like WordPress, Medium or Squarespace may be perfectly adequate for their needs. However, for larger organisations or more demanding audiences, then solutions like Joomla or Drupal could be considered.
Types of Blog Software
Blog software can be categorised into the following broad types.
Freemium Services – offer a free trial period, after which a user needs to start paying;
Self-hosted platforms – these are offered free, but users will need a web host provider who will install it on their servers; and
CMS – usually a blogging platform is a CMS (Content Management System), which publishes and updates online content.
Blogging is a way for ideas, thoughts, comments and opinions to be shared online, whether you are sharing a passion, discussing or previewing an event, expressing a political view or just looking to prompt a discussion.
At the corporate level, blogging has a more important business function, helping to attract more traffic to a website, drive customer engagement, improve SEO, and position an organisation as a thought leader.
Whatever, however, your blogging needs, there are a range of software options available, most of which require minimal training to get started. Choose the best software for your needs, and get writing!