The Product Ideas forum was open for a month and closed for new suggestions on the 14th of May. During the time it was open, the forum received over 1500 different suggestions and thousands of votes from enthusiastic Blogger users.
In today’s post, I’ll highlight some of the most popular suggestions, along with discussion of the likelihood that these suggestions could come to fruition and be integrated into the Blogger service.
An overview of the Product Ideas for Blogger forum
Product Ideas for Blogger was announced on Blogger Buzz in April, when Blogger users were invited to add their suggestions for:
- Blogger features – general enhancements to the service
- Blogs of Note – notable Blogger powered blogs which are acknowledged in the Blogs of Note blog and on Blogger’s home page
- Gadgets – Blogger specific widgets which can be added to the layout in a few clicks, through the Page Elements section of the Blogger dashboard.
The forum was open for public viewing, though only those holding a Google account could log in to suggest a feature or add their votes to existing suggestions.
Voting on the Product Ideas forum was simply “For” or “Against” the ideas presented. There was no means to comment on suggestions or provide details about our degree of agreement/disagreement of an idea.
As there were no pre-existing suggestions, those who offered their suggestions were able to add any idea they liked. This meant that many ideas were duplicated due to different wording of the ideas presented, or the specifics of suggestions provided. Also, many ideas were submitted to both the Features and Gadgets sections of the forum. I suspect this caused some confusion among participants as to which ideas they should vote for or against.
However, despite these misgivings I believe that Blogger’s decision to open up the forum for suggestions to the Blogger interface will prove successful: by offering Blogger users the means of expressing their interest in certain features, the Blogger team have provided a sense of community participation and will hopefully implement some of the more popular suggestions in future enhancements to the system.
Let’s take a broad look at the more popular suggestions and consider the likelihood that these ideas will be considered.
Suggestions for new Blogger features
In this section of the forum, participants posted their ideas for general enhancements to the Blogger interface.
Improvements to the comments system
Suggestions for improvements of Blogger’s comments system appeared many times in the forum, and in many different formats.
Generally speaking, participants of the forum seem to feel Blogger’s existing comments system is too basic and suggest that comment avatars (particularly avatars), comment threading and integtation of a system like “CommentLuv” would vastly improve the system.
Furthermore, a better system for prevention of comment spam similar to Askimet would be much appreciated by the Blogger community. I was surprised that prevention of comment spam did not feature in the top tier of results once voting had closed for the Product Ideas forum, but when browsing through the hundreds of suggestions it was clear that this was suggested in so many different formats that a single clear suggestion was missed.
Will it happen? Based on recent integration of other Google services, I believe that any improvements to Blogger’s comment system may be based on Google Friend Connect. As some of you may already know, Friend Connect offers a means of commenting for any web page, including threaded comments and Google-based avatars; some creative Blogger users have already chosen to add this functionality to the comments section of their blogs. It is more likely that an adaptation of the Friend Connect comment box will be added than a stand-alone improvement specific to Blogger.
“WordPress style” pages for Blogger blogs
Participants of the Product Ideas forum voiced their opinion of this suggestion in many different ways, and I can attest from experience that this feature would be hugely appreciated by the Blogger community!
Rather than hide important pages of our blogs (such as an “About” page and contact details) in the archives, most Blogger users would relish the opportunity to add a selection of pages separately, without the date and year extention. As many have pointed out, this feature is available for those using WordPress and other blogging systems. Those who use Blogger create such “pages” by designing a post which is linked from the layout and hidden deep in the blog archives.
Will it happen? I suspect that great modifications to the Blogger engine would be required to accomodate this feature. Though I suspect it could be possible, I doubt this feature would come into effect in the near future. Yet with the demand from those using Blogger through the sheer number of votes for this feature..? We shall have to see!
New/Better Blogger Templates available through Blogger
The selection of default templates available from Blogger has not changed for the past 5 years when StopDesign was commissioned to design the templates with which we are all familiar. Although many designers have turned their talents towards designing “third party” templates for Blogger, many Blogger users would feel far happier if a new (or wider ranging) selection of designs could be chosen from Blogger itself.
Will it happen? I would hope there is the possibility of new designs in the pipline, though I strongly suspect that any new templates would offer new designs, but not improved functionality. Many recent third party templates offer functions which would be difficult to implement as default Blogger templates due to the nature of the code used to produce them. Default templates include code snippets and widget tags in specific places, enabling blog posts, widgetized sidebars and comment sections (to name a few aspects) in specific places in the template. It could be very difficult to manipulate functions for default templates for the millions of Blogger members who would use them.
Addition of a “Read More” feature (post summaries)
At present, when we publish a blog post with Blogger, the whole post is displayed on the home and archive pages of our blogs. There is no facility built in to Blogger which allows only post summaries to be displayed, and while there are several Blogger hacks to add this functionality, these can be complicated to implement.
Will it happen? Again, I’m unsure of the implications for the Blogger engine, and how extensive modifications would need to be to support this feature. However, there is such demand for this feature to be added that I hope the Blogger team will certainly consider this.
Suggestions for new Blogger gadgets
In this section of the forum, participants suggested new Blogger specific gadgets which they would like to use for their blogs.
Visitor statistics (based on Google Analytics)
One of the most popular gadget suggestions was for a visitor statistics widget (to show page views) which is based on data from Google Analytics. This could prove useful for those who wish to display details of their readership.
Will it happen? I would think this is possible, since Blogger has integrated many of Google’s other services into the Blogger interface in recent months. More likely than this is the addition of Google Analytics data to the Blogger dashboard, as was hinted at in this post by WebProNews…
A popular posts widget
I suspect this gadget would be more popular among Blogger users if it was to come into action! At present, there is no reliable gadget or widget which Blogger users can add to link to their most popular posts. However, Blogger recently introduced the star ratings system which readers can use to rate posts. As yet a gadget to display the most popular posts based on these ratings has not been made available.
Will it happen? I believe that the Blogger team may already have looked into a solution to display the most popular posts based on this system. In fact it would be a natural progression of this widget, and I am surprised we have not already been able to use such a gadget for our blogs.
Another possibility may be to display popular posts based on Google Analytics data if (or when) this feature is added to our dashboards.
So… Will Blogger act upon our suggestions?
Last year, I asked Blogger Buster readers to suggest the features they would most like to use; among these was the addition of a comment form which – to our surprise and warm welcome – was implemented even before the poll had ended!
My thoughts are that the Blogger team do care a lot about how the system is perceived, and that the most popular (and attainable) suggestions will certainly be considered for future updates to the system. I was personally surprised to see the Product Ideas for Blogger forum opened for suggestions of new features as previously our suggestions were voiced through the Blogger help group, but I believe that the Blogger team created this forum to discover more about the opinions of the Blogger community so such suggestions can be acknowledged and acted upon.
What are your suggestions for new Blogger features or Gadgets?
Did you suggest a new feature/gadget or have a strong opinion about any of the suggestions posted on Product Ideas which would improve Blogger? Please feel free to let us know about your suggestions and opinions by leaving your comments below.