Google tests new Blogger layout design tool

The company calls this the most important Blogger improvement in years

Google will begin on Thursday a public test of a Blogger layout customization tool that the company says significantly broadens publishers' ability to modify the look of their blogs.

The Blogger Template Designer includes ready-to-use professional designs, pre-built templates that can be further modified, a color-adjustment control to tweak the blog's color palette, stock photos for background use and an advanced interface for publishers who know HTML and CSS.

"The presentation of your content online and how you create that presentation is very important to self-expression. How you look online is your personal brand," said Siobhan Quinn, a Blogger product manager. "With this new tool, we want to empower users to express themselves not only through their words but also through their blog's design."

To use the Blogger Template Designer, publishers will have to log into their blogs through Blogger in Draft, which is where Google previews Blogger features that are still in a test phase.

"This is the biggest launch Blogger has had in several years," Quinn said.

Blogger, a pioneer blog publishing service launched in 1999, played a major part in the blogging revolution, but has at times over the years been criticized for being slow in adding features that competitors often incorporate sooner.

Nonetheless, it remains a major player in its market with millions of active bloggers and more than 300 million active monthly readers. In the past two years, active contributors to Blogger blogs have more than doubled, according to Google.

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