Blogging with an iPad: Choosing a web browser, setting up your theme and adding widgets

My iPad is a significant part of my life.  It goes almost everywhere with me and is the one device I can’t live without for both work and leisure.

With more educators looking at iPads as a replacement for student laptops and netbooks, we’re regularly being asked for blogging tips using iPads.

So I’ve decided the best way to provide advice is build a new blog using just my iPad and post about it as I go!

Web browsers on the iPad

Lets start by talking about web browsers since you’ll need to use one as you’re setting up your blog.

While Safari is the default web browser on an iPad there are apps that provide considerably better browsing with greater functionality than Safari.

Alternative web browsers for iPads include:

I’ve decided to use iCab mobile because:

  1. It has the richest feature set
  2. It supports tab browsing so you don’t have to keep zooming in and out of your browser to move pages
  3. I’m able to access more blog features inside my dashboard than any of the other browsers

You can choose to use Safari rather than purchase an app like iCab mobile however support of tab browsers makes the process considerably easier and quicker.

Tab browsing in iCabmobile on an iPad

Here’s a quick comparison of the main differences between these browsers:

Quick iPad Browser comparison

Tip:

  • The iPad’s dock at the bottom of the screen where you can ‘stick’ icons of your favorite apps so they remain accessible from all other Home screens can hold up to six different apps.
  • To add more icons to the iPad dock, or replace existing apps, just touch and hold any Home screen icon until the icons begin to wiggle.
  • Now drag the app you want to add from the Home screen into your dock.  When complete, press the Home button to save.

The most annoying aspect is Safari is the default browser and, unlike a computer, you can’t change this on an iPad.  So instead I’ve added iCab Mobile to my iPad dock to make it easier to access.

dock41

Creating the blog

Now it’s time for me to create the blog.

I’m creating it via the Edublogs sign up page using  iCab mobile however:

  1. If you’re new to blogging start by reading these things to consider before creating your blog
  2. If you’re setting the student blogs follow these instructions

Tip:  A handy shortcut is to doubletap on your home button. This brings up a toolbar which makes it easy to navigate around your iPad apps.

Accessing your iPad toolbar

Setting up the theme

Now my blog is created it’s time to give it my personal touch by choosing a new theme.  Last thing I want is it to look like all the other newly created blogs!

Changing the theme was simple.

All I needed to do was:

  1. Log into my blog dashboard using iCab mobile (or you can use Safari)
  2. Go to Appearance > Themes
  3. Click Activate below the theme I wanted to use

If you’re struggling to decide on a theme it’s best to activate a theme you want to check out and then view your blog in another tab, than to use Preview — it’s less time consuming.

Changing your theme

Here’s where you’ll find more information to help you choose your theme:

  1. What to consider when choosing your blog theme
  2. The 137 Edublogs Themes Separated Into Categories To Make Choosing Your Next Theme Easier

I’ve decided to use PrimePress because it’s a nice clean theme that suits my purpose.

Uploading the custom image header

While changing the theme was simple, uploading a custom image header wasn’t. It’s definitely something that’s considerably less painful using a computer.

But it can be done and here’s what you need to know:

  • The easiest option is to use a free image header that is close to the image header size you need to upload
  • You need to use iCab Mobile as most iPad web browsers won’t let you locate images on your iPad to upload
  • You need to make sure the image is exactly the size recommended on the Appearance > Custom Header page because you can’t crop images in the dashboard on an iPad

Here’s how I did it:

1.  Downloaded a free image header from FreeWebPageHeaders

  • Images from FreeWebPageHeaders are a standard size of 800 pixels wide by 200 high which means for most themes you’ll need to resize and crop.

Downloading an image on an iPad

2.  Resized the image to 920 pixels wide using iResizer (Us$1.19).

  • There’s lots of image resizers you can choose from.
  • I just found this app the easiest of the ones I already have and it’s handy to have a good image resizer.

Resizing an image on an iPad

3.  Opened up the resized image in PhotoGene (US$2.49):

  • cropped to 920 pixels wide and 150 pixels high (size required for uploading)
  • Added text
  • Saved the image

There’s lots of image editors you can choose from.  This app is easy to use and is handy for cool image editing.

Adding text to an image on an iPad

4.  Then reopened my new custom image header in iResizer to check:

  • it was definitely 920 pixels by 150 pixels
  • otherwise I wouldn’t be able to upload.

5.   Next I logged into my blog dashboard using iCab mobile

6.  Went to Appearance > Custom Header

7.  Clicked Select File, selected image from Camera Roll and clicked Upload image.

Presto!

My new image header is now on my blog!

You can check out the progress of my blog building on an iPad here!

Changing the tagline

The concept behind a blog tagline is to create a memorable phrase that sums up the tone and premise of a blog.

Changing the tagline was simple.

All I needed to do was:

  1. Log into my blog dashboard using iCab mobile (or you can use Safari)
  2. Go to Settings > General
  3. Add my new tagline and click Save Changes.

Adding a new tagline

Changing Widgets

You can’t drag and drop widgets on an iPad.

You can, however, still add widgets with relative ease using the following steps:

1.  Select ‘screen options’ from the tab at the top.

Click on Screen options

2. Enable accessibility mode

Enable accessibility mode

3.  Click add on the widget you want to add

Add the widget

4.  Add the information

  • In my situation I need to add an attribution for the image I’ve used

Adding information to the widget

5.  Then decide where it goes

Choose sidebar and location of widget

6.  Click Save Widget

You can learn more about working with widgets here!

Final thoughts

My blog is now set up ready for me to start adding content.  You can see how the blog is going here (if you can bear it’s current messy state!)

The next post in this series is all about creating and editing posts and pages using an iPad.

Please let us know:

  1. What have I missed?
  2. What other advice would you give?
  3. Or are there any other questions you would like answered?

If you are enjoying reading this blog, please consider feed-icon32x32 Finding and Adding Creative Commons Images To Your Blog PostsSubscribing For Free!

Sue Waters

Edublogs Support Manager @suewaters on Twitter

22 Responses

  1. Jenny Ashby says:

    Well done on this post. I haven’t actually created a blog on the iPad but I use wordpress and blogpress to add posts to blogs. Those apps make it very quick and easy to add posts. Not sure if they work with global2 though. Must try them out.

    • Sue Waters says:

      Hi Jenny, thanks for nice feedback. They’ll both work on Global2 but you’ll need to go to Settings > Writing and enable the XML-RPC first. My next post will cover a review of these apps.

  2. bgibson135 says:

    I’ve found that I can use email from my iPad, using a wireless keyboard, to quickly take notes and publish to my WordPress blog. If you have a course outline, you can make each posting “Subject” one of the headings, and then later make the outline the Table of Contents with the headings links pointing to each blog posting.

    You might want to use WP shortcodes to direct your emailed postings into a specific “Category”.

    • Sue Waters says:

      Thanks bgibson135, hadn’t thought of the email option for writing content.

      We don’t currently have the ability to email posts on Edublogs but it is one of the features we want to include with our upgrade.

    • Sue Waters says:

      Thanks Memento, I did trial one of the dual type browsers and wasn’t convinced for the purpose of blogging it was the best option. This is why I didn’t include any of these types in my review.

      But happy for any one to convince me that it is worth taking another look at them.

  3. Kelly says:

    Great article, Sue. The latest trend of ‘moblogging’ (mobile blogging) has taken off. iPad’s make it easy for people to blog on the go. Thanks for describing all of the different platforms, very insightful. If bloggers want to increase their user engagement they should look into a related content plugin. nRelate has a great plugin that drives high click through rates. Here is the link to the blog if you would like to check it out.

    http://nrelate.com/theblog

    Keep up the great blog!

  4. Chakru says:

    I have been trying to blog from my ipad for a while, but i am not really convinced that it really suits well to do so, problem stsrts when i try to edit, i have no idea about the browser u mentioned here but i tried using safari which really does not support visual editor which is a big drawback for me, mine is a technology blog and i do add heading tags and other formatting options that are not a part of html editor, also i could not able to upload the pictures from my ipad to wordpress, is there any way to achieve these from my ipad? Any help will be great and well appreciated.

    Thanks

  5. bgibson135 says:

    I had the same problems yesterday trying to post to a blog with my iPad. Safari didn’t let me scroll down to enter an image. WP app didn’t have what I needed. Could suck the photos into my iPad, but then difficult to get them to Flickr or WP.

    It’s much easier to add photos & mp3 audio to a posting, via email, using my HTC EVO (Android), but I can’t find a Bluetooth keyboard to connect to the EVO (or the Hero, before that). Android needs to standardize Bluetooth.

  6. I recently just purchased an iPad and I just can’t get a feel for the darn thing. I think I’m use to a regular old keyboard, mouse & monitor that I just don’t feel comfortable using it for my everyday daily tasks.

    On a high note, my grandson showed me how to play the keyboard on it the other week.

  7. Jesse Z says:

    Thanks so much for this post, I run my entire company around a WordPress blog and while I was so excited that things would seemingly be so much more “portable” with my Ipad, it only took about ten minutes before I was ready to throw my new toy against the wall because it was definitely not built with WP in mind…but thanks to lots of time spend trying out new apps, browsers, and reading up on blogs like this one, I can now handle things (almost) as easily as I can with my PC or laptop! If you would like to see an example of what can be done with an e-commerce WP blog, an Ipad, and a lot of work, then check out my site http://www.shootersworldairsoft.com.
    Thanks again, and btw, if you have any experience with the Blogsy app, I for one would love to hear about it!

  8. Alexa says:

    Every time I go to my blog on my iPad, it defaults to the bottom of the page? Any idea why?

    Thanks!

  9. Alexa says:

    Every time I go to my blog page on safari, it defaults to the bottom if the page. Any idea why?

    Thanks so much!

  10. Zubeida says:

    Hi

    I recently got an iPad 2 and I tried to post my first blog on there yesterday. I use Blogspot. I find that using safari I cannot set the fonts on my blog post. Does iCab allow you to set fonts when creating a blog?

    Can someone please help?

    Kind regards
    Zubeida

  11. Shonnayy says:

    More and more people use the iPad, people who use Web browsing less and less.

  12. Brenda says:

    My young nephew is a huge fan of “all things technology” that make our life easier. I encouraged him to start a blog, since he is so passionate about the topic. He has only two followers so far but comes up with some pretty interesting topics for an 8th grader! Your post reminded me of his from yesterday – iPads are certainly becoming prevalent if leaders of countries are going to be using them to run things!
    http://samstechtalk.blogspot.com/2011/12/british-pm-to-rule-country-with.html

  13. René Vlak says:

    Try Puffin, the first browser for iOS that allows drag-n-drop on the iPad: “Two-finger move on virtual mouse pad allows do drag-n-drop operation…” It is also able to display Flash. Great features for specialised jobs like editing your WordPress site on an iPad, although it is not the fastest browser around for general browsing purposes. More info: http://www.puffinbrowser.com

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