Widgets and Gadgets What to Add – What to Avoid

Image: I made this one.


Tricking out your Blog can be a lot of fun, but sometimes fun for you is a pain for your reader.

If there is a rule for your setup, it is this:

If it slows down your blog or if it confuses your reader throw it out.

We have already discussed that there are two kind generic blog.  They are free—hosted by WordPress on their—and those installed on a paid host.  Please recall that both versions of the WordPress client are free, it is the hosting and the management that is different.

Lets make some distinctions.  The WordPress hosted iteration has a limited number of widgets.  They’re all good; that is to say, they all work with whatever the current version of WordPress you have. 

For the paid host version, you must seek out, download, and install various “plug-ins” to make widgets.  While this requires more work, it gives you a much wider choice.  This is both good and bad.  Choosing between a limited number is easy.  Choosing between a great number of widgets, many of which do the same things to a certain level… well, that can get time-consuming.

In both cases, however, new bloggers are prone to grab whatever looks cool, whatever they have seen on another blog, sometimes not realizing that the coolest widget on five different blogs do not always play nicely together on a single blog.

As it is with photographs, where size can slow down the loading of your blog pages, widgets with the complexity of their scripts, and occasionally their need to check a database can also slow you down.

Then there are things like Tag Clouds.  They look cool, but ask yourself if you have ever used on someone else’s blog.  And if you don’t, why would you expect your reader to?  Worse, there are versions of tag clouds that are 3-D and animated.  Blindingly, wonderfully cool, but more of a drag on the system than you need or want.

What widgets should you use?  Here are my recommendations:

  • Archives
  • Email Subscription
  • A static text widget which shows your top posts or the first post of a series.
  • A blogroll or two IS ESSENTIAL!  This is how you grow your authority links

You may also want to add:

  • Top posts (by number of reads)
  • Search

Other than that, anything you add is more likely to slow down your reader than help.

Now, if you have a favorite widget you think should be on my list, I want to hear about it.

If you have questions?  Fire away!


4 responses to “Widgets and Gadgets What to Add – What to Avoid

  1. Good advice – thanks. 🙂

  2. My widgets match up with your list for the most part.

    To allow visitors (and me) to search easily:
    *Search Bar
    *Category Search
    *Calendar Search
    *Recent posts
    *Recent comments

    For the reasons you mention, I got rid of the tag cloud last week ~ took up too much room and I never used it.

  3. Thanks for the suggestion, off to remove my tag cloud 🙂

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