I admit this was a spontaneous change brought on by the envy I felt looking at Deborah Walker's shiny new template. When she claimed in a post's comments that she was getting way more page views with the new format, I was sold.
I admit, I like a lot about Dynamic Views. To me, part of the purpose of having a blog is having a whole lot of stuff you've written available to people online. One of the things I've found pesky about a traditional blog format is that it is fairly challenging to a reader who might want to poke around in the archive to access that archive. Blogger's "archive" widget is pretty crappy in terms of navigation. With Dynamic Views, the reader has access to the entire blog via a simple scroll down. Dynamic Views actively encourages people to wander around and take a look at the place. Yay!
Once I had it installed, I realized there were some big problems with Dynamic Views. If you just install it without tweaks, it automatically includes a little menu that allows readers to bork with your layout by choosing cute options like "flipcard" and "magazine", thus displaying your posts in different arrangements. I like the "timeslide" format (what you see on my blog) - it's why I chose Dynamic Views, but my particular content looks terrible in "flipcard" and I don't think much of some of the other options. I wanted to take that little menu away. "Timeslide" does this neat thing where it displays snippets of selected posts, but it also cuts off your blog post titles if they are longer than two or three words. More disturbingly, the awesome fishscale background and reddish colour theme that I love was only sometimes displaying. Half the time when I loaded my blog it would be this plain jane black thing that was quite ugly.
When Andrew Leon kindly let me know that he couldn't comment on my blog any more, I was saddened, to say the least. I wondered how many other people had dropped by and couldn't comment. Boo Hoo!
I was totally prepared to go back to my old template. I logged in, and had a quick look at my stats.
My pageviews had gone up 400% from before I changed the template. Uh. Yeah. Four times more pageviews! My ego made a decision: I would be keeping Dynamic Views, but only if I could figure out a way to make it more reliable and make sure that readers could comment.
(Google claims in this post that the reason for the increase in pageviews is a product of the more accurate tracking system that is enabled for Dynamic Views. My sense is that DV is also more user-friendly. Win / win.)
Enter Southern Speakers, a blog about tweaking your Blogger blog by a fellow named Yoga. This blog is seriously the best thing. Yoga posts all kinds of simple, quick, cut-and-paste bits of HTML for you to stick into your template, along with complete instructions on how to do that. (He has tweaks for more traditional Blogger layouts as well as DV.) With his help I did the following:
I got Dynamic Views to display the full title of my posts on my main page, rather than cutting them off.
I wiped out the ability of the reader to pick different types of dynamic view, meaning that they have to stick with Timeslide.
I inserted adorable vertical lines between my page links in my header bar.
Most importantly, Yoga linked to this tutorial on how to force the Dynamic Views template to stop occasionally loading that ugly black plain jane version of the template - what Yoga calls the "Ghost Template" This fix comes via Päivi and Santeri of Global Nomads. Yay!
So: if you have Dynamic Views installed, at the least I heartily recommend that last fix, especially if you've found, like I did, that your pageviews have gone up since you installed Dynamic Views, but your comments have dropped. It's possible your readers can't comment! Tragic!
A special plea: If you're reading this and you're not seeing a comments form or the reddish fishscale pattern on my main page, PLEASE LET ME KNOW: elizabethtwist at gmail dot com. Thanks!
ETA: As per L.G.'s complaint about the black gadget dock menu thinger overlapping the scroll bar on the righthand side, I've used this fix to move it to the left where it shouldn't interfere with the scroll bar any more. Thanks for the feedback, L.G.!