There are many websites that provide free html blog templates and I am talking about Google Blogger templates on this occasion; although there are free templates for any type of website, blog or not. This shortish post is intended to take the slog out of finding them. A small word of warning about free blog templates. They are written by talented and skilled people, yes. But the people at Google are the most talented and proficient of the lot. Google hires the best people, they can afford to. What I am saying is that the templates that Google produce function beautifully and although they can be customized (and the Blogger team accept this) sometimes the customization looks good but doesn’t function as well as the original template.
It is a bit like buying a Ferrari and asking the local garage to do a bit of work under the bonnet (hood in the USA). When you customize you have to be careful. Also, I don’t know about you, but when I see a slick blog I have a feeling that it is going to contain weak content because the effort has gone into making it slick. The old fashioned sites often have great content and content is king as they say.
The bottom line is that function is more important than form. As a result I would make sure that the template functions well in all ways before finally adopting it.
Secondly, I notice that Google generally and the Google Blogger people as well, have extremely simple and functional websites. They are almost plain, a little boring perhaps, but highly functional and useful. Sometimes the look of the site gets in the way of its function. Take the blogs with fancy backgrounds. A website provides these (The Cutest Blog on the Block). They are nice and the blogs that use this service are very pretty. But they will load more slowly because you are loading an image for the background. Sometimes they will load considerably more slowly if in addition the blog has lots of widgets containing third party scripts pulling in stuff from other sites. Add to that some large jpeg images on the blog and it will definitely load slowly. This can be a put off for visitors in a high speed world.
With free html blog templates you can either download from the site that provides the template (and then upload it to your site) or copy all the code and paste it into your edit template window. The former is probably the better. I look at the technique further down this post for people who have not tried this.
Anyway here is where you can find free html blog templates. The first three also provide information about getting the best from Blogger blogs (like this site but on a bigger scale):
1. The website, Bloggerbuster, is perhaps one of the best sources for free blog templates as the lady who runs the site, Amanda Fazani, has templates on site and she links to other sites (as I recall) that provide more examples. Plus she provides a lot of useful tips etc. This is the page to start from: http://designs.bloggerbuster.com/
2. The next website that provides blog templates is run by a guy called “Enviroman”. He is a self confessed introvert who must spend all day in front of the computer! He also must be concerned about the environment – good for him. He has a good site but it loads way too slowly (to speed up load times, click the refresh button while it is loading – this gives it a kick up the backside and speeds things up a bit). While Bloggerbuster provides new looking designs, Mr Enviroman tends to focus more on extending existing designs (e.g. more columns etc.). I prefer the gentle modification of a blogger site as you can retain the perfect functionality of the Google team’s template while adding your personal touch (see for example my contribution: Add Third Column to Minima Template). Here are a series of pages from Enviroman to visit and explore:
3. Another well known site dealing with customization of Blogger blogs and one I would call part of the “Big Three” is, Tips for New Bloggers. These guys (there appears to be more than one person) have been on holiday for the last year or so! Their site still does damn well. They tend to do what Enviroman does and provide customizations as opposed to complete new zam bam designs. This is the link to the “template” label which will show a series of posts on this subject:
4. The next site is dedicated to providing free html blog templates. It contains hundreds of templates. This is the best site for choice. I uploaded one to test it (see it here: http://cats-how-to.blogspot.com/ – this is a dormant test site). As you can see it looks great, very professional. But I couldn’t use the comment function and I have tried, believe me (update: the comments work! - sorry). I don’t like the fact that the navbar has been removed. Plus there are functions that need some work. For example, there is an “Edit” button in the horizontal navbar that seems to do nothing; not sure what it is for. It puts a # after the URL. Seems odd. It is this kind of functionality that I am referring to when you use third party free html blog templates. And they tend to look bland. I prefer the homemade personal look. It is more basic but the better for it, in my opinion. Here is the site:
To upload the new template:
- Important: Save by downloading to desktop the existing template. This puts an XML file on desktop for easy upload if things go wrong.
- Download the new template from the supplier site.
- Open the downloaded ZIP file.
- Drag out the XML template file to desktop.
- Go to Dashboard of Blogger site.
- Access Layout>Edit Html.
- Using the upload function, browse for the XML file on desktop and upload it.
- The new template is saved.
- View and use blog if you like it. If you don’t like it upload the previous template from desktop.