A to Z of Blogging: W - Widgets

Widgets (or “gadgets” in Blogger) are those small applications that bloggers put in their blog sidebar or footer or below the posts section. They serve so many different and, sometimes, very useful purposes.

There was a time when I had a dozen odd gadgets in my blog’s sidebar. I had games like ColorJunction, Mahjong and Sudoku. I had my Personality Test results from Youniverse.com. (I was ENFP back then.) I had a gadget that displayed a random quote every day. I even had a Yahoo Messenger Pingbox embedded as a widget. I used to be online on Yahoo Chat all day back then, and we planned a crazy bloggers’ meet in Delhi via that Pingbox. It was fun!

Blogging has evolved now though. It has become more professional, even if you’re not blogging professionally. All those funky gadgets that were the craze back then are, now, seen as clutter. They increase the site loading speed and act as a distraction from your main content.

Today, the widgets or gadgets on your blog should be added with only one thought in mind – making it as easy as possible for the readers to access and engage with your content. Here are 5 blog widgets that I strongly recommend.

5 Must-Have Widgets on Your Blog

  1. Search Box.
    The search box gives a quick way to your readers to find something specific on our blog. It could be a post they visited a few days ago, but couldn’t bookmark it at that time. Or it could be an article you wrote long time ago that a blogger friend wants to link to now. Search box should ideally be in the top-right part of your blog.

  2. Subscription Options.
    Different people use the internet in different ways. Some use only email. Some hate email newsletters. Some are more active on Facebook or Twitter. Some might like to have their subscriptions nicely organized in a feed reader. You must offer your readers all popular ways of subscribing to your blog content (RSS, Email Subscription, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Wordpress/Blogger Follow etc.).

  3. Contact Options.
    A reader might want to contact you with a query, or a prospective client might be looking to work with you. Someone might want to contact you for a sponsored post or some other advertisement deal. An author might want to connect with you for a book review. So you must display your contact options clearly.

  4. Recent Posts / Related Posts / Popular Posts.
    I see so many blogs that don’t have any widgets to showcase the “other” content on their blog. That is such a big mistake. If a first-time visitor lands on one of your posts and likes it, he will definitely want to check out some more of your content before deciding to subscribe. You must have at least the recent and related posts widgets, and not just on your home page, but on every post page.

  5. Social Sharing Options.
    If you want more visibility for your content, make sure you have easy-to-use social sharing buttons on every post of your blog. The readers should have an option to easily share your content on at least Facebook, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest. At least.

These are the 5 essential widgets that every blog must have. Ideally, they should all be as close to the top of your blog as possible. All other widgets (such as traffic counters / page ranks, Blogroll, blog awards, links to the blog networks you’ve joined, and whatever other widgets you have) should be below these.

Does your blog have all the 5 widgets listed above? Which of these 5 do you find the most useful when you visit other people’s blogs? Are there any other widgets that you would recommend in the must-have list?

This is my 23rd post for 2015 AprilAtoZ.
Link to the previous post: A to Z of Blogging: V - Value.

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Now that reminds me about adding a 'search box' on my blog. Excellent tips, as usual. Thanks for sharing.
*Shantala @ ShanayaTales*

the little princess said...

I have to add the first two options..other 3 I have..

Vinay Leo R. said...

Have them all :P Except the contact options. Which I think is up to the blogger. It's not a hundred percent must needed option. A blogger who just wants to write, not be contacted, needn't have it na :)

Mars said...

I think we have similar tastes as those are my widgets and tend to have them in the same place, apart from the recent/popular posts one - from time to time I get crawled and I've a few "popular" posts that have been boosted by non human readers ;)

Might look into that one again though!

Curling Stones for Lego People

Harini said...

And my new blog has all the five widgets. I am back to blogging btw. Good post. This will be helpful for new bloggers for sure :)

Sundari Venkatraman said...

very informative post Chicky! useful to bloggers. I agree that what you have mentioned - the five widgets - are the most important ones :)
My A-Z posts here: http://sundarivenkatraman.blogspot.in/

Eli Ert said...

Great tips and reminders! I agree - all 5 are good to have on blogs:-)

Melissa Sugar said...

You have shared some valuable widgets. I made the same mistake when I first learned how to add widgets. I wanted my blog to look like I knew what I was doing and instead I created a cluttered mess.

Melissa Sugar
Twitter @msugar13

Yvonne Ventresca said...

I like how you simplified it to 5 widgets. Helpful!


Chicky said...

Thanks Shantala! :)

Chicky said...

Ummmm, Leo, what if a publisher wants to contact you with an offer for a book deal?

Chicky said...

Mars, I also removed the popular posts widget some time ago. It was showing more or less the same posts as the recent posts widget. Probably because the latest content was getting read most, right?

Chicky said...

Welcome back to blogging, Harini! Your new blog looks cool! It is very neat and organized!

Chicky said...

@Sundari Venkatraman: Thank you, Ma'am :)

Chicky said...

Thanks, Eli! :)

Chicky said...

Oh Melissa, I think we tend to get a bit over-excited at times, don't we? And then we end up trying everything at the same time! :P

Chicky said...

Thanks Yvonne! :)

Chicky said...

Princess, you don't have the subscription options? How come?

Rajlakshmi said...

I don't think I have a proper contact box option. Should update my template.
Once again, wonderful post on making blogs more reader friendly :)

Shilpa Garg said...

Wow! I have all 5 from your list!! Yayyy!!! :)

Chicky said...

Thank you, Raji! Even I want to make some changes to my template now. Maybe end of this month.

I'm glad I could complete this series. My Dad always keeps saying I should "share my knowledge" on the internet, I should "give back" and stuff! I finally decided to do it! It is very time consuming!

Chicky said...

I know, Shilpa! And you have that awesome Archive page on your navigation bar! I totally love that page, you know. That's my favorite place for browsing through your old content! :D ;-)

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