One of the problems with Blogger has been that the default templates were looking rather tired and to customize them to your needs required a knowledge of HTML and CSS. However, those people at Google's Blogger team seem to have been listening to their users and have now brought out their new Template Designer.
I have decided to give it a go with my experimental blog. So clicking on to the design feature this is what you find.
To start with you find that you have six themes, each with a number of variations giving a total of 26 templates to start with. This does not feel like that many, but actually the big new feature is that the templates are now highly customizable without the need for any knowledge of HTML or CSS.
For the purposes of this little experiment I have decided to start with one of the "Simple" templates, which starts off looking like this:
Moving on, you can then choose a background and this is where the fun begins! You have the option here of simply changing your colours or changing background images. There are loads to choose from, although you need to bear in mind that how these are applied varies according to which template you have chosen, i.e. most will be applied as a background image, but for others they will be applied as a header.
For this exercise I have chosen a green bamboo background - probably not what I would choose if I was doing this for real, but let's give it a go and see how it turns out. At this point you also have the opportunity to change the colour theme to your blog as well. This is how it looks after applying the background.
Now onto the layout stage. This is where the new Blogger Designer really gets going. Previously, unless you were happy to start editing the template HTML or you downloaded a template you were stuck with a standard width blog with one sidebar. Now you have no fewer than eight options ranging from zero to THREE sidebars. Here are the options available:
Not only that, you have the opportunity to adjust the width of your blog and of the sidebars.
Finally you then have the "Advanced" tab, most of which is actually not that advanced at all. In fact most of it is simply a replacement of the previous "Font and Colors" feature, but just a little more user friendly. However, what you do have here is an opportunity to add your own custom CSS.
And here is the finished template:
I have gone for quite a simple look here, but you can use one of the other templates and backgrounds to give a different look. In fact here is another variation on the template that I made:
You can still upload your own header as before so you personalize it still further.
Overall, this is a really easy to use tool and gives you a huge range of options. Hopefully the days of many Blogger blogs looking rather similar are coming to an end.