By Kim Wimpsett
DiaryLand, a Weblog publishing tool, lets you set yourself up to chronicle your thoughts in a matter of minutes and offers impressive image hosting for an extra $30, but it's simply not worth the cost. We prefer Blogger's simpler interface and greater functionality, such as the ability to save drafts and set future posts. If you already blog at DiaryLand, stick with the free version; there's no need to upgrade. By Kim Wimpsett
DiaryLand, a Weblog publishing tool, lets you set yourself up to chronicle your thoughts in a matter of minutes and offers impressive image hosting for an extra $30, but it's simply not worth the cost. We prefer Blogger's simpler interface and greater functionality, such as the ability to save drafts and set future posts. If you already blog at DiaryLand, stick with the free version; there's no need to upgrade.
If you're set on hosting your own blog, DiaryLand isn't for you, but everyone else will love the simple setup. To establish a free blog, register at the DiaryLand Web site; URLs look like this: http://username.diaryland.com. Unlike Blogger, you can't FTP blog files to your own server. To update a blog, just log in at DiaryLand. You'll see all your blog-related options down the left side of the screen, including Add An Entry, which takes you to the main editing screen.
The editing screen is a Web form with editable date and time fields, so you can easily predate your entries. Unfortunately, unlike in Blogger Pro, those entries go up immediately--not on the date you enter them. You can also add a short description for each entry, which appears on an automatically created archive page that lists entries by date. We like the descriptions, which let readers quickly scan for past posts. Blogger, on the other hand, simply lists archives by date with no other description, unless you tweak its template yourself.
DiaryLand doesn't offer any buttons to format your text, especially compared to Radio UserLand's slew of HTML inserts, so you'll need to know a smidgeon of HTML in order to insert fonts, colors, or styles. Worse, DiaryLand offers no spell-check feature. Once you've completed your post, click Done, and DiaryLand updates your page and links to your live blog. If you want to change an already posted entry, click Edit/Delete Entries, located in the list of links on the left of the screen. DiaryLand displays links to posts by the most recent one or by letting you search for specific topics--a convenient way to filter old posts.
DiaryLand offers seven template designs, the fewest we've seen--and the plainest ones. In fact, they barely qualify as templates; only the colors change, the headers don't nor does the basic design. Worse, DiaryLand's templates display only one entry per page. To show a more typical week's worth of posts, you must tweak a template's code yourself; there's no built-in option. Lame.
The extras aren't worth the price
If you're looking for extras, you'll have to get DiaryLand's gold membership, which costs $30 per year, with shorter, cheaper plans available. But it's simply not worth the money. Your $30 buys statistics that show your total page views, referrers (the links that brought people to your blog), and your most popular pages. DiaryLand's gold membership also lets you upload 5MB of images, which the site hosts. But 5MB won't get you too far, and we'd rather apply the $30 toward hosting our own site. A gold membership also offers faster technical support via e-mail, and if you sign up for a year, DiaryLand will display an ad for your site 10,000 times on DiaryLand.com. Of course, you have to create the ad.
In sum, DiaryLand's free offerings, including its simple setup and interface, do the trick. But even image uploads and free advertising don't justify its $30 upgrade. Stick with Blogger Pro for advanced tools or plain old Blogger for a free, easy, more full-featured Weblog.