First things first, what are widgets? According to Wikipedia:
Blog widgets, therefore, are nothing more than pieces of code (usually provided by third parties) that you can use on your blog in order to add some content or functionality. Widgets, if used correctly, can add some salt to your blog. Notice that we said â€œif used correctlyâ€ because using too many of them will just clutter your design and slow down your website.
Below you will find 6 popular widgets around the blogosphere. We tried to list the â€œprosâ€ and â€œconsâ€ for each one, so that you will be able to choose the ones that are suitable for your blog.
Feedburner Feed Count
What is it?: A small chicklet that displays the number of people subscribing to your Feedburner RSS feed. You can customize the color to match the style of your blog.
Pros: Most popular blogs on the Internet use this widget. A high subscriber count can both give credibility to your blog and encourage first time visitors to subscribe to your RSS feed.
Cons: Just as a high subscriber count can be positive, a low subscriber count might hurt your blog. Like it or not most people will get discouraged if they have the impressions that they are alone reading your blog. Just avoid using this widget if you blog is relatively new.
Where do I get it?: You will need to â€œburnâ€ your feed with Feedburner. Once you have done that, just log into your account and go to â€œPublicizeâ€ then â€œFeed Count.â€
What is it?: A widget that displays avatars of the readers on a certain blog. You can click on the widget to discover more about someone, and communities of readers are created for individual blogs.
Pros: The widget can increase the level of interaction on your blog through the MyBlogLog community. Additionally it can also help on the promotion side since other people will see your avatar when you browse around their blogs (and you can leverage your creativity here…).
Cons: Unfortunately the widget might increase the load time of your website (sometimes hugely, depending on the customization you apply to it).
Where do I get it?: After registering with MyBlogLog you just need to log into your account, add your blog and click on â€œGet This Widget!â€
What is it?: Alexa provides traffic estimations for websites based on the usage of its toolbar. This widget will display the Alexa information (you can customize it with numbers or graphs) of your blog.
Pros: Although Alexa has denied this, some people believe that you can improve your Alexa ranking by inserting the widget on your blog.
Cons: The widget might not offer any useful information for your readers (people concerned with those rankings usually use browser toolbars for that purpose), and it will inevitably use space on your sidebar.
Where to get it?: Just head to the Alexa website, scroll down to â€œDevelopers’ Cornerâ€ and click on â€œWidgets.â€
Swicki Community Search
What is it?: It is a search widget that learns from the behavior of your readers. Additionally it also displays a â€œHot Searchsâ€ buzz cloud. You can see it working on TechCrunch.
Pros: This widget tries to combine the flexibility of search engines with the intelligence of the crowd. It allows both you and your readers to customize and improve the searching mechanism on your website.
Cons: You will need to spend some time to set this up and make it functional. Secondly, not all readers might be interested in this level of sophistication while searching on your blog.
Where do I get it?: Go to the Eureckster website and click on â€œCreate your own swicki today.â€ Notice that you will also need to â€œtrainâ€ the search engine before using it..
Flickr Photo Stream
What is it?: This widget will rotate selected photos from your Flickr account. You can choose the format of the widget, the colors and the number of photos to be rotated.
Pros: The widget can add a personal touch to your blog, specially if you spend some time customizing the style. Chris Pearson has an article on this topic titled â€œAdd a Styled Flickr Photo Stream to Your Blog.â€
Cons: This widget is certainly not suitable for all blogs. If you have a personal blog where you share your experiences the photo stream can provide value for your readers. If you write a more professional or objective blog, on the other hand, you might want to think twice before displaying Flickr photos on the sidebar.
Where do I get it?: Log into your Flickr account, go to â€œYour Photosâ€ and look for a â€œFlickr Badgeâ€ link. After that just follow the instructions to create and customize the widget.
What is it?: Twitter is a communication platform that allows people to stay in touch through short messages that describe what they are doing. The messages can be updated via SMS. This widget is synchronized with your Twitter account so that your readers will always know â€œwhat you are doing.â€
Pros: Just like with the Flickr Photo Stream, this widget can represent a nice feature for a personal blog. Readers will be able to follow your activities, for instance.
Cons: Unless you have a personal blog or you are an online celebrity like Steve Rubel, it is very likely that the majority of your visitors will not care about what you are doing through out the day.
If you are looking for more widgets you should check the “Gallery” section of Widgetbox. There are over 1000 of them, divided into categories and tags.
Daniel is the owner of DailyBlogTips.com and a Guest Blogger on SponsoredReviews