Monday, October 4, 2010

10 Widgets (Plugins) & services that power PC Geek Blog

A blog is always incomplete without supporting widgets and services, and as a blogger I am greatly indebted to the kind of services and widgets I receive for free. In this post, I am going to provide you with a walkthrough about the widgets and services which are used by PC Geek blog. This post will benefit bloggers looking for some help with all the widgets around. Remember that most of the widgets I mention below require no or little knowledge of HTML from your side (Frankly, I am not very comfortable with HTML myself).


Disqus:


Blogger’s default comment system lacks many features when compared to comment management services like Disqus, CommentLuv, etc. PC Geek Blog’s comments are handled by Disqus and I don’t have to worry about spam since I have integrated my Akismet’s API key with Disqus which usually filters out all the spam comments. Click here to get started with Disqus.

The FinderFox Widget:


This widget is from the house of FasterFox/FasterChrome add-on that makes your surfing faster by applying simple techniques. Adding this widget gets you the functionality (to an extent) of their addon to your visitors, even if they haven’t installed it.  When text is selected a balloon with options like Tweet this, Quote on Twitter, search on Google and share on OneRiot appears, you also have the option of changing the default search engine in the add-on and the clicks on the balloon takes the user  to a newer tab which will help you reduce your bounce rate. Get it here.

IE6 no more Widget:



When a visitor to your blog uses an old browser, this widget shows a notification for him/her to upgrade for a better web experience. I personally feel that every blogger must add this widget to make the web a better place for everyone and this widget is a must have for tech-evangelists, and yes, the screenshot above shows a badly rendered version of our blog thanks to IE6. Get this widget here.

Formstack:

When I started this blog, I wasn’t ready to invest money since I was broke! Many form-services provided quality service only for premium users and I found Formstack when I was searching for an effective service to create and host my contact form. I currently use their free service which lets you create up to 3 different forms (you can also have membership forms with Formstack). Have a look at my contact form here. Check out Formstack’s website here.

AddToAny Share Button:

We've started using ShareThis since it works better.

Facebook Social Plugin:

The Facebook social plugins help you to promote your site by leveraging the power of Facebook. People tend to hit the ‘like’ button since it looks very attractive and you can be assured that you’ve got yourself a visitor who is likely to come back again in the future. Their recommendations plugin is equally good if your blog has a lot of traffic already. Get it here.

Feedburner:

This service does not need an explanation. PC Geek relies on Feedburner for delivery of email updates to subscribers and for RSS feeds. Though many criticize Feedburner for not being reliable, I haven’t faced any issues with it. Burn your feed here.

iBlog Theme:

We’ve recently changed the template of PC Geek Blog; previously we had a native blogger template called Watermark by Josh Peterson. The main reasons for the change was that way too many people had a similar template which made the blog look like ‘just another blogspot blog’ which isn’t good, The theme also had a lot of free space that kind of made the site look hollow and devoid of information. iBlog is more tightly packed and looks appealing. iBlog is a theme from the famous deluxetemplates website.

Microsoft Powerpoint (that’s the software used for our header):

The header was designed with Microsoft PowerPoint (seriously!). I wasn’t keen on spending much time with software like Photoshop and I felt that a logo/header must just convey the website’s name which the current header does sufficiently. This way, I saved quite a few bucks for logo designing.

Google’s amazing Blogspot:

Our blog is powered by Blogger and is hosted on the free Blogspot.com with a custom URL. I am aware of the shortcomings of Blogger when compared to Wordpress/Typepad, but, I love Blogger for its intuitive interface and user-friendliness and I am not contemplating a move to Wordpress anytime soon. If you don’t blog, consider starting one powered by blogspot by clicking here.

I hope this post helps you find out some really cool new widgets/services which you haven’t heard of before. If you already have a blog, tell us about the widgets and services you use by commenting below.

The author of this article can be contacted at gouthaman@pcgeekblog.com