Blogger is one of the easiest platforms to install new templates. Many bloggers change their format several times before deciding upon one that they really like. The popularity of the Blogger platform resulted in the formation of a huge community of template designers who are so proud of their creative effort that they offer their templates for free. Every year, as the Blogger user base increases, there are also more free XML Blogger templates available throughout the web.
Resources for High-Quality Free Templates
As with most things that are free, quality sometimes suffers. If you blindly search the web for free Blogger templates, you'll discover thousands of sites that offer a variety of offerings. These range from ugly and poorly functioning templates to beautiful and wonderfully useful templates. XML style programming is an art form, and it's easy to recognize high quality templates when you find them. The following list represents some of the best free XML Blogger template resources on the web:
- bTemplates is the king of the hill when it comes to free XML code for Blogger layouts. Few other directories match the volume and selection of bTemplates.
- B Templates, a "copycat" site of bTemplates (in name only) offers a short list of Blogger templates that may be few in number, but they are also quite high in professional quality.
- Mashable lists dozens of other directory sites and blogs that archive available free layouts.
- PsycHo.org is one of the most innovative and creative free online tools available for Blogger users. This application lets you define header information, sidebar widget information and schemas and all kinds of other details about the template using a very simple point and click interface. When you're done, the tool produces the XML code that you need to transfer your automatically generated design to your own blog.
How to Install XML Layouts
While not as popular as WordPress, the best thing Blogger has going for it is its ease of use. With virtually no computer skills, you can install any of the free XML templates available at the sites above onto your blog in just a few clicks. The following instructions assume you are using the "new" Blogger interface, which lets you select an XML file and installs the code for you.
- First, in Blogger, click on the "layout" tab, then the "Edit HTML" tab, and the "Save Template" button. Save this file to your computer, as it will be your backup if anything goes wrong with the new template.
- Download an XML file from any of the sites above to your computer.
- Back on the "Edit HTML" screen, click the "Browse" button and select the XML file that you downloaded from one of the free template sites.
- Another option is to open the file, highlight the code and paste it into the text box and save.
Once you've finished the procedure above and you've saved the changes, the next time you view your blog it will feature the new design. However, before you install a new template, make sure you understand that all of the widgets and tools that you added to your previous layout will be lost, and you'll have to install all of them again. This includes any Adsense code, counter widgets or social network feeds like Technorati or Digg.
Ideal for Small Blogs
Opting for a free design may not offer the widest selection or the highest quality blog designs, but it does provide you with enough variety and features to satisfy anyone who is only blogging on a small or moderate scale. If you ever intend to grow to the level of a professional blog with sponsored ads and constant content updates, you'll eventually want to consider purchasing a professionally created template design.