Monday, May 14, 2007

Widgetizing Your Blog

Have you ever wished your blog could do something, but your blog software doesn't provide it?

Have you ever wanted to show more than just the last 10 titles in Previous Posts? Blidget does that. It displays the last 20 post titles. See it, under that "Get My Widget" Robot with red rays shooting out of its eyes?

Have you ever wanted to have a customized search engine on your blog, on a specific field or topic? Try Swicki.

How about a tag cloud that displays tags of topics you blog about the most? Technorati's got one.

Want to display content, or post titles, from other blogs or sites? Feedroll may have the answer you seek. I used to have a Digg and a Lockergnome feedroll in my sidebar. But my sidebar tends to get longer and longer, so I have to trim it now and then.

What we are doing is supplying remedies for CMS deficiencies.

CMS is Content Management System. Your blog runs on some platform that governs what you can do with it, how spam is dealt with, how many posts are on the main page, etc. When you aren't satisfied, you can switch to a more feature-rich blog platform, or you can use widgets to accomplish what you desire.

All you need to know is how to Copy and Paste some code into your blog template. All bloggers must eventually learn how to do that, or your blog will not evolve to meet progressing user needs and expectations.

Don't junk up your blog with every silly widget that catches your fancy. You can destroy a blog's usability and repulse users with inordinate download times, when you load your blog up with too many widgets, especially irrelevant or trivial widgets. Widgets can contain or do just about anything imaginable.

Widgets are modules, like plug-ins or add-ons, except they generally come from sources outside your blog software platform. WordPress has many "official" or suggested, internally developed or outsourced plug-ins, for example, but many are dysfunctional and unreliable.

Many widgets contain a monetizing element, such as a small text add or clickable button, somewhere, usually near the bottom of the widget panel. Generally, these ads are simply linking back to the widget maker's site, and that is fine. Many readers will probably be interested in checking out that site.

In my sidebar, you'll see a number of widgets, mostly oriented toward enabling my readers to leave my blog and explore topics on their own, but with some guidance by an external authority, which is more and more likely to be a collective of fellow users.

VTG widgets include:

* Easy Web Stats Live Visitor Counter "number of users online" widget

* Wikipedia search engine (a Google gadget)

* TinyURL input box that will transform a long web address to a short one

* Pollcode polls

* Swicki "blog revolution" customized, user ranked search engine

* Widgetbox "blidget" that displays 20 Previous Posts

* Snap Previews that shows you a screenshot of the site destination of a link

* Twitter widget that displays my public timeline

* Twitter Search Engine by Steve Rubel

* YouTube video player embed with "Tyranny of the Machine"

* Skype VoIP "call me" activation button

Think about some features or functionalities you wish your blog had. Then check the widgetmeisters to see if a widget exists for that purpose.

The topic of monetizing widgets is a tiresome one, but your pal Vaspers may go into that next. I'm just so tired of greedy newbies wanting to make a fast buck on the internets. Yawn.

Here are some places to start your blog-widgetizing explorations (this list is dynamic - will be adding to it as I find more relevant links):

"Widget Madness"

Google Gadgets

Niall Kennedy Widgets Live


Widgetbox Blogosphere

Pollcode free blog polls

Swicki custom, user-ranked search engines

Twitter Search Engine

Clearspring Technologies
(Have not explored this, just found it today.)


Peoria Pundit said...

've decided widgets make b blog load too slllllooooooowwwwwly.

It's hard coding all the way, baby.

carrie said...

feedroll sounds kind of interesting.

Don said...

Just stopping by. Nice list.

You should try SpringWidgets "express widgets" found at:

Take a look at a working one in a blogger template sidebar: