Blogware Mechanic #1: Basic Blog Customization, Part 1

Welcome to the Blogware Mechanic!

The Blogware Mechanic: Tips and Tricks You Won't Find in the Manual

The Blogware Mechanic is a series of articles that covers how to get the most out of your Blogware blog through customization. In this series, we'll look at all sorts of ways to take advantage of the flexibility of the Blogware blogging platform and make your blog better-looking, easier to use, funkier, more highly-ranked by search engines and even help make you a little money! If you have a Blogware blog and want to soup it up like those fancy "A-lister" blogs, then this series is for you.

Every series has to start at the beginning, and that's what I'll do here. I'll begin with a couple of articles on basic customization. If you've been using Blogware for a while, there's a good chance that none of this will be new to you; in fact, you'll find the same information in the Blogware Publisher Guide. However, in the interest of being thorough and for the benefit of new Blogware users, I'm going to go over the basics before diving into the fancy stuff.

This article is the first of two that cover the basics of changing your blog's appearance. I'll cover two things:

Changing Your Blog's Color Scheme

The simplest and most dramatic way to change the appearance of your Blogware blog is to change the color scheme. The name "color scheme" is a little misleading -- not only does it define the colors of your blog, but it also defines the fonts used, as well as a little bit of the layout.

(If you're familiar with other blogging tools, Blogware's color schemes are similar to what they call "themes" or "styles".)

Blogware lets you choose from a number of pre-defined color schemes, and if you don't like those, you can always create your own. For the time being, we'll look at choosing a pre-defined color scheme.

Consider the screenshot below, depicting a blog using the color scheme named "Antique":

Screenshot of an example blog using the 'Antique' color scheme.
Click to see the screenshot at full size.

Let's change its color scheme to one of the other pre-defined ones.

To do this, log into the Blogware control panel. Once you're in, click on the Look & Feel tab on the navigation bar:

Screenshot of the Blogware control panel's navigation bar, with 'Look & Feel' being selected.

You'll be taken to the Look & Feel section of the control panel. The default page of this section is the Colors page, shown below:

Screenshot of the 'Look & Feel: Colors' page in the Blogware control panel.

To change the color scheme of your blog, select the color scheme you want to use and click the Change button at the bottom of the page. The page will refresh itself, and you should see the "Style updated" message near the top of the page:

Screenshot of the 'Style updated' message in the Blogware control panel.

Now that the color scheme has been changed, let's take a look at your blog:

Screenshot of the same example blog, with the 'Autumn' color scheme applied to it.
Click to see the screenshot at full size.

It's the same blog, with the same content and layout, but with different colors and fonts.

The color schemes available to you depend on your Blogware provider. Blogware comes with a default set of color schemes, and your provider has the option of creating their own as well.

You're not limited to choosing from a set of pre-defined color schemes; you can also "roll your own". A good portion of this series of articles will cover just that, from simple tweaks to wholesale redesigns.

Now that we've taken a quick look at color schemes, let's look at column layouts.

Changing Your Blog's Column Layout

Most blogs have a layout with columns. Typically, there's a wide column or "content column" for blog entries and one or more "sidebars" which hold things like navigation links, lists such as "most recent entries" and "most recent comments" and supplementary content. Blogware gives you four options for column layouts, which I'll describe below.

Let's take a look at the layout of the example blog. Note that it's a three-column blog, with the content in the center and two sidebars, one on the left and one on the right, as shown below:

Screenshot of a three-column blog, with the content section and sidebars pointed out.

With only a couple of mouse clicks, you can change the blog's layout to a two-column layout, with the sidebar either on the left or right side:

Screenshots of two-column blogs, one with the sidebar on the left, the other with the sidebar on the right.

You even have the option of doing away with the sidebars altogether and going with a single-column layout:

Screenshot of a single-column blog.

If you choose to use the single-column layout, you can still put navigation controls and other content that would typically belong in the sidebars into the header or footer of your blog.

Choosing a column layout is simple. In the Blogware control panel, go to the Look & Feel section by clicking on the navigation bar's Look & Feel tab:

Screenshot of the Blogware control panel's navigation bar, with 'Look & Feel' being selected.

Once you're in the Look and Feel section, the Options section of the navigation bar will show you the options for that section. Click on Layout:

Screenshot of the Blogware control panel's navigation bar, with 'Layout' being selected.

You will be taken to the Layout page, where you'll see a set of controls that look like this:

Screenshot of the 'Look & Feel: Layout' page in Blogware's control panel.

These controls let you select the column layout for your blog. Click on the picture corresponding to the layout you want, then scroll to the bottom of the page.

You'll notice that you have two options:

Two buttons, one marked 'Preview', one marked 'Save'.

Clicking the Preview button lets you see what the new column layout will look like without committing to it. Clicking the Save button will actually change the column layout.

That's all there is to changing the column layout!

What's Next

In the next article in this series, we'll look at something a little more complex: components.

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