Fall seems to be my favorite time to do updates. Last year I did big WordPress updates. This year, I’ve released updated version of a number of our “older” Blogger templates to keep them current and optimized.
Most of the updates are “behind the scenes” and related to better performance and SEO. A few changes affect the setup of your site, so I encourage you to read about all the new features and my warnings before deciding whether you will update our site. Blogger, unfortunately, does not make updating as easy as WordPress does.
NOTE: If you haven’t received an update notice, you will receive one shortly. If you shopped on our site, you should have received an email already. Creative Market shoppers, go to CM and re-download your purchase. It will be the updated version. Etsy shoppers, we will be sending updates shortly IF you have signed up for the Updates List. (click the link to sign up now)
The following themes have been updated. Our newer designs have not been updated as they already include many of these features.
- Ashleigh** (coming soon)
*Marissa received specific updates but not all were needed. New Features below marked with an asterisks (*) apply to Marissa as well.
A Warning About Updating!
Please take this section very seriously and read before you decide to update!
Blogger does not make it as easy to update a theme as WordPress does. The following issues exist:
I. Customizations through the Template Designer are Reset
If you’ve made any color, font or Custom CSS changes via the Customers (aka Template Designer), they will be reset when you upload the updated template.
There is no work around for this. Period.
But if you decide to update and you want to “keep” your customizations, I have 3 recommendations:
1. Backup your current template before you update.
It’s always a great idea to keep a copy of your “old” setup so that if you have any issues, you can easily revert.
See our Upgrade Blogger Template to Newer Version tutorial. It walks you through backing up your current template.
2. Record your current Customizer Settings
Recommendation #3 will help you “transfer” your customizations with a minimum of pain, but I still recommend making a record of any Customizer Settings as a backup.
The easiest way is to go through each panel under the “Advanced” settings and screenshot them or make handwritten notes for each setting.
3. Update on a test/staging site first.
I recommend ALL bloggers (Blogger and WordPress users) have a testing or staging site anyway to test all changes prior to going live with them.
You can setup the updated theme on your test site and customize it. Then you can “transfer” your settings easily to your new site.
Please check out these helpful resources:
The 2nd link details the whole process of setting up a test blog and how to transfer your settings back and forth.
II. Changes made directly to the template code will be erased.
If you have made any customizations by adding code directly to the template code, they WILL BE LOST when you update. This includes if you “translated” your theme.
If your special code is in a widget, it will be safe.
If you know where to find the customizations or added code in your current code, I recommend copying and pasting these pieces of code into a text file (Text Edit, Note Pad, etc.) to save them.
An example is if you added Google Analytics directly to your code rather than adding it via the built in Blogger option. Your analytics will break. See this tutorial for setting up Google Analytics safely so that template changes don’t affect it.
III. Content and Widgets WILL NOT be reset.
Some users worry that changing or updating templates will make them lose posts, pages or widgets. This is thankfully not the case with Blogger.
This content is stored in a different database than your design code and are safe during template changes or updates. The formatting may change but not the content itself.
Now, with the warnings out of the way, for the good stuff:
1. Menu Updates
All templates (*except Marissa because of the 3-level menu system) have been updated to a Page List menu widget rather than a Link List widget. The Page List is easier to use and more users are accustom to using it.
Setting up drop downs and “external” links is the same, however.
If you update, you will have to delete the old “Main Menu” widget and set up your Pages menu!
New Menu directions HERE.
2. Logo Height Adjustment
You can now easily adjust the height of your logo using a slider setting in the Customizer under the Header – Logo settings.
3. Promo Boxes
To allow maximum flexibility, the Promo Boxes are now height flexible.
This means for best appearance, you will need to use images that are the same height/size ratio otherwise they will appear uneven. The code will no longer crop the images.
4. HTTPS Compatible*
The templates are now fully HTTPS compatible.
This was important with the new warnings the Google Chrome browser is throwing at visitors for any sites that are not on HTTPS.
Custom domain users – Blogger is not yet capable of having HTTPS with your custom domain. They claim it is coming, so stay tuned. For now, if you update now you will be ready to go when it comes.
To learn how to switch your site to HTTPS (does not apply to custom domains), see this article.
Note: If you switch to HTTPS and still get a security error, you will need to update the first image on each post. This is because various features use your blog’s RSS feed including the slider, Related Posts and Recent Posts. Updating to HTTPS does not seem to automatically update the images in your feed to HTTPS. Just remove and replace the first (1st) image in each post.
Also note that if you have added outside code, widgets or features that use non-secure links, your site may throw an error. As seen from our demos, used as coded, the templates are HTTPS compatible.
5. New Instagram Widgets
To go with the HTTPS compatibility, we needed Instagram widgets that are HTTPS compatible.
See the new directions for Instagram HERE.
6. Contact Page Widget
You can now easily embed a Contact widget into a page to have a professional looking contact page.
See the directions HERE.
7. Improved On Page SEO*
I’ve made a few HTML changes to improve SEO further on our designs. There’s nothing you need to do to set up these changes. They will automatically take effect when you update.
8. Google Structural Data Compliant*
For even better SEO, I’ve also implemented full Google Structural Data meta. Most templates offer very basic Structural Data. I added the full spectrum appropriate for blogs.
There is minor setup that you need to do if you want your Structural Data to be 100% error free. See the directions HERE.
And while you’re at it, you will also want to set up your Open Graph logo for better sharing. Directions HERE.
9. MailChimp Integrations
You can now add beautiful, matching MailChimp forms to your site. Form locations include below the slider/Promo Boxes, in the full width footer and the sidebar. See your theme demo for an example.
Directions are HERE.
“Should I Upgrade my Blog?”
If you are using one of our templates with the default styles and minor added code, yes, you should definitely upgrade!
The improved SEO and HTTPS compatibility are worth it.
If your site has been massively customized, you will want to carefully weigh your choices and decide for yourself. But it is possible to upgrade even if your site is heavily customized. Use a Test/Staging site and follow our “transfer” process to help you out.
Sum It Up
I’ve made some major updates and improvements to our older Blogger Templates that make upgrading a very good idea. Make sure you follow our suggestions if your site is heavily customized.
If you want to upgrade (and didn’t purchase via Creative Market or our shop), you need to register for updates and Rich will hook you up with the latest version. Make sure you note on the ticket form which template you’re requesting!