Vox for Authors

This is post is part of the ‘Choosing the right blogging platform – For Authors‘ series started ten days ago. We’ve reached the end of our series with this review, and of all 6 blogging platforms we’ve talked about Vox is probably the one least suited to writing a blook. But i’m including it in this series, mainly because of its popularity and simplicity.

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When Vox was first released by Six Apart it was touted as the social blogging experience. Made for personal blogging, Vox is a cross between a blogging platform and a social network, which can easily be seen in what is called ‘Neighbourhoods’ – a collection of friends, family and other blogs that you read and maintain relationships with. While this doesn’t seem like a proper platform on which to write a book, i chose to review Vox mainly because of its attractions to the everyday user – something an author who is more used to paper and pen might appreciate.

Ease Of Use

Of the other 5 blogging platforms reviewed, none comes close to Vox in successfully integrating text, pictures, audio and video in a single, beautiful posting interface. It’s terribly easy to fall in love with posting in Vox – there even is a question of the day that appears everyday in your dashboard, setting off that spark of creativity whenever you feel lethargic and loath to cook up a post. But is this any good for writing a book online?

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Well, Vox makes blogging understandable – even your grandmother can post pictures and videos and bring it all together on an good looking blog. Working with the assumption that the average author knows basic word processing skills, Vox can and will be able to accomodate a blook and make it easy for anyone – even if you’ve never heard of a blog – to post up chapters.

Looks

Vox has a whole plethora of themes, most of them beautiful, jaw dropping, but with limited cuztomization. The most they allow you to do is to upload your own header picture and determine the sidebar positions, but while this may seem harsh, the sheer amount of quality themes they provide more than make up for this. Vox themes allow you to select 3 collumn and 2 collumn variations, as well as sidebar elements and postitioning, thus making sure Vox blogs not only look good, they look different.

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There’s not much else to be said about Vox’s looks, other than it looks extremely polished and well thought out, from the homepage to your posting screen to even the ads that pepper the service (they blend in with the background). It’s is free and its themes are click aplenty. End.

Features

Vox has RSS2 feeds (what self respecting platform doesn’t?), tag organization, easy importing from other blogging platforms, as well as sections to integrate your Flickr, Youtube, Amazon and Photobucket with your blog. I particularly like the Book button on your posting page – it allows you to link up with Amazon to show the latest books you’re reading, and even keep a ‘bookshelf’ in your sidebar displaying your recent reads. Audio clips can also be uploaded, allowing you to serenade your readers with your chapters read aloud, nevermind that they don’t understand you. ;-)

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Vox also has something called Voxwatch, as well as a few other features that are better suited with the social blogging theme: Voxwatch compiles feeds from other Vox blogs into one location in your dashboard, allowing you easy access to posts from your friends or people in your ‘neighbourhood’.

While the lack of categories may be a trifle stiffling, Vox’s major limitation is that ‘blogrolling’ (they call it your neighbourhood – didn’t i mention this service is social orientated?) and comments are limited to Vox users. This doesn’t encourage commenting, though it depends on what kind of a project you are treating your book as. It might be static, allowing you no creative feedback, which suits Vox perfectly – only your friends and people you want to meet in Vox can comment. But if you want to promote your blook online, in your blog, then i suppose this limitation strictly hampers the connection and interactivity you can otherwise provide to your readers.

Support

Vox has a very efficient ‘knowledge base’, or help section. You start by running a search over a multitude of help topics, ranging from feeds to posts to even the ads provided on the service. Everything is sorted by category and the dates each article was last updated is displayed – making finding info and learning about the service a real breeze. I enjoyed researching topics while writing this post – while i was a Vox beta tester, i didn’t really make use of much of the functions Vox had to offer, since most of my social contacts didn’t operate in Vox.

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Reliability

I haven’t heard of any complaints about Vox so far – not even downtime … which means that if they do have lights out it doesn’t happen very often. Which is marvelous. Six Apart, the company behind Vox, is pretty experienced with blogging platforms – they are the guys behind Typepad and Movable Type, which is a credible alternative to WordPress, though it isn’t free. I’ll trust my blog with them, how about you?

Conclusion

Vox may not be recommended for writing a blook on – or any other story, for that matter – but what it does is to provide a pain-free transfer from the offline world to the online one. Not everyone understands blogs – there are so many preconceptions about this new form of media, so Vox is still the platform i’d recommend to any newbie – simply because it’s so darned easy to use and understand. The only other use? Character blogs, for your story – with neighbourhoods, voice clips and elegant themes.

Read the summary for this series!

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Category: Blog Platforms · Writing Web Fiction