I've long been a believer that a good website can make a big difference to the committed podcast creator, as it gives your work a home on the web, and a permanent place existing listeners can come back to, and new listeners can discover.
A brief history of themes in Podiant
Podiant's first ever podcast. Check out that player! 🙈
I started building Podiant with a focus on making a nice-looking website for each podcast. I added the ability to customise the appearance via CSS, so if you were familiar with that language, you could fiddle with fonts and colours.
In the summer of 2017, I added the ability to switch to another theme. It was quite nice, but it still wasn't flexible enough, so in early 2018 I set to work on building a whole theming engine, that would allow customers to safely change the actual HTML that made up the theme. I used a templating library called Handlebars so customers could fundamentally change the layout of each page of their website, creating something completely different from the original theme.
A great case in point is my new podcast, List Envy. I bought a Tumblr theme and ported it over to Podiant. It's not licensed for public listing, but all I did was choose one of the existing Podiant themes, completely strip out all the HTML and CSS, and add my own. 👷🏼♂️
So if you know your way around front-end code for the web, you're sorted. But most people don't, and even those that do don't necessarily want to spend all their time in a code editor. So, I decided to go a step further.
Introducing the new Theme Customiser
Typography and colour
I've upgraded all our themes to support custom typefaces (via Google Fonts) and date formats. Some themes also have colour customisation and many have support for something new…
If you've added third-party components like Mailchimp forms or a Ko-fi button, you can now choose where on the page they go*. Most themes also come with widgets you can move around, like a list of subscription buttons or a box with a description of the podcast.
You can still edit the HTML and CSS of your theme, by entering Advanced mode. I'm hoping this will be of less and less use to people, as we enable more customisation options, and increase the number of themes we have available. And speaking of new themes…
Introducing Summer 2019
It's the Summer of Fun!
Based on the free Podca theme by ColorLib, Summer 2019 is our newest offering. It's big on images and also introduces our new mini player, which has all the same playback and tracking features as our existing player, but in a teeny tiny package (the styling of this is based on MediaElement, but the functionality is all our own).
But wait, there's more!
Since Podiant's inception, episode URLs have been a bit, well, inscrutable. I did this because I never wanted a user to have to think about what URL they should use for an episode. Podiant supports setting your own custom short link, but this just redirects to the episode's canonical URL.
That's all fine, and it serves its ultimate purpose of taking another task off the busy podcaster's plate (and prevents us worrying about what happens if someone accidentally sets a URL they've used elsewhere). But as of this new update, we have the best of both worlds.
Introducing SEO-friendly URLs
Now episodes and blog posts have nicer URLs that should score better in search engine rankings, because they're based on your episode or post title**. So instead of
bitratepod.com/e/3668b413db724/, for an episode of Bitrate entitled "Cultivating an audience, with special guest Tom Merritt", we have
Of course, this means that changing the title of your episode will cause the URL to change. But since we include the episode "slug" (in this case
3668b413db7244) at the end, we can always find it, and we'll always redirect to the current, canonical URL, so you don't have to worry about cluttering up your search engine rankings with duplicate pages.
Naturally, all your old episode and blog post URLs have been redirected to the new ones, so you don't need to change any links you already have.
I do stuff like this because I'm first and foremost a podcaster, I care deeply about the web, and I firmly believe that taking a web-first stance is the best way to keep podcasting open and free.
Podcast episodes are not just MP3 files; they're time capsules, and they should be preserved, and the best way to do that is to give them a great home on the web. If you agree, and you haven't already, sign up for a 14 day free trial of Podiant.
- If you've previously customised your theme, you'll need to reset back to the original in order to get these new features.
** We can't currently do this for non-Latin languages, so we use the original URL in that case.