Sunday, February 7, 2010

Widgets and Gadgets and Violas, What's on Your Sidebar?

All Violas were safely planted on Thursday and Friday. Buffy helped dig. No violas were harmed.

All Gadgets are Widgets, Google calls them Gadgets. A widget is a little HTML code that puts interesting, fun or productive items on your blog. Your Profile is a widget, so is your Blog Roll. You might have a Weather gadget, or a Translate feature.

Among useful widgets are Search, Archive and Labels. I explored a new member's site that features plants in which I was interested. It took hours of scrolling, scrolling, scrolling because there were no labels and the archive was by date only. I kept thinking how much some labels and an archive that shows post titles would have improved that site, and mine. I fixed my archive to include titles. 
The Translate widget I tried to use didn't work, unfortunately. I like a Blog Roll that shows thumbnail pictures from some of the links -- adds color and attracts. There's a choice between alphabetical or by latest to post, which I use to weed out blogs no longer active. My Label cloud is so big that I put it at the end of my posts along with Followers, to kind of balance the sidebar which wanted to scroll on into infinity until I shortened the Blog Roll, which can then be expanded with a click.

If you don't want to use your real photo, you might make a caricature.
Does this Avatar make Buffy and me look fat?

Text and picture widgets are easy and helpful. A little reminder to readers not to steal pics and text without asking indicates copyright and that photos are not from the public domain. I wish everybody would have a short 'who and where am I' to help new readers orient to where we are on the globe, either included in Profile, or a separate text. I liked Wiseacre's little text that says, "I encourage you to bookmark now. If you can view everything in one visit, you need to get a life."

I use a Poll gadget for the amusement of some of my readers, tying it in to my posts when I can, or making a new post with significant results. I like to display flowers as they come into bloom, but too many pics increases loading time significantly.

I haven't mentioned RSS feeds and Subscriptions and the like -- more and more gadgets. I keep a feed list, off my blog site, of blogs unrelated to gardening that I check daily: cousin Eddie, Kenju,  Bye, Bye Pie, Gladys, Vodkamom and a host of others I don't want to miss. Oh, and links, almost forgot about Links, like the Blotanical Banner.

So, what's on your Sidebar? Which widgets do you like most to see on a blog?  Are there some that you find more annoying than helpful?

Buffy helped dig, carefully avoiding fungi.


  1. Nell Jean ~ I like your avatar and even Buffy is included. You both look great.

    Good info...I was wondering where and how you got your polls. I guess I just need to check it out a little more.

  2. Hi Nell

    I suppose alot of it is down to personal preference. I've chopped and changed mine so much that I've promised myself that I will leave my sidebars alone for awhile.

    I pruned my gadget list drastically as alot of those gadgets were slowing my site down.

    I have so many wonderful blotanical friends now I just keep a link to Blotanical rather than offending someone by not having them on a blogroll.

    I took my label gadget off as it was a 3rd party one and some of those can be a risk. Still thinking about whether or not to put one back on again - for now anyone can just use the seach box at the top to search the blog and the tabs under the header.

    A poll is something I've never done yet - you do good ones over here

  3. I do like seeing the different widgets or gadgets people put up. I just added to the top of mine with all the snow, you can see live camera views of many places around the world. Looking for a widget that I can have my tree postings listed without having them in one long list. Prefer a drop down kind of thing. guess I could use a label list and just have the trees on it. Hmmmm..... so many things out there to play with.
    Oh I also added a Pepsi voting widget for some kids in North Carolina who work with my daughter in Teach for America.

  4. My sidebar is very much blogger standard. If too many things are put up, there is a tendency for the blog to crawl like snail... Love the info though. ~bangchik

  5. I like this avatar of you and Buffy. I would want to look at the profile of the author during my first visit. Labels, archives with drop down menu showing the month and post title, blog links and link lists are what I look for too.

  6. Our sidebar is mostly our local weather, what we're reading that's garden related, and links. Links to the RSS feeds of course, the rest are mostly organizational to assist visitors with navigating through the blog. There are also links to sites we've found helpful here, either when planning the gardens, or for identifying local flora and fauna...oh, and to Blotanical of course!

  7. The caricature makes you and Buffy look like a school girl and a puppy. Fat? Never!

    I am very low on the totem pole of blogging sophistication. Nothing I blog about requires search, archive or label widgets, except for the few things I participate in regularly like Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

    I'm much happier visiting the blogs of others than developing my own blog. Call me lazy...I call it uncluttered and simple.

    There's not a day that passes that I'm not in awe of all the talented bloggers out there. And what I appreciate most in any blogger is a sense of humor.

    Oh, the pretty little violas. Luv them.


  8. My blog has had a blogroll come and go, a few different times. At one point Stuart told me all of the widgets were slowing my feed down and were the cause of it not showing up on Blotanical. Then I actually closed my blog for a month and a half. I couldn't stay away, though, so when I came back I added my blogroll again. I enjoy seeing the photos, as well. What I often do, (and did, while I didn't have my blogroll listed), was view everything from my blogger 'dashboard' perspective and watch the pages from google reader, which is really cool. You can just read the entire post of your friends & not even go to their blog. Of course, it means you don't leave comments but often I just like to read without leaving comments. It can get crazy with 'too' many widgets, I think, and very confusing on the blog. I am trying to keep mine as simple as I can, yet I want to have links to some things that I think are important & helpful to my readers, who are a diverse group.

  9. Nell, very nice post. On my site, I like the google translate, follow, visiters by Flag counter and subscription widgets. They are really helpful to me :)

  10. Hi Nell,

    You always come up with such interesting subjects relating to blogging. I am kind of on the fence of what to include in a sidebar. I do have a lot of content but last week, took some things off - I like to clean out the 'closet' now and then. I look at my blog as a work in progress. I am not completely about how it looks right now, but am not entirely sure about what to change. I will keep working on it though :^)

  11. My sidebar has evolved as my blog has matured. At first, it was just a photo and a generic Blog Archive. Then, friends told me that I HAD to write a blurb explaining who I am and what I do, so I did an About Me. The photos of the fur-kids came next. I love labels on other blogs, so I added the feature to mine ... labels make it so much easier to find things when I'm reading someone else's blog that I enjoy.

    The latest thing is my Blog Roll, which is continuing to evolve. I find the most interesting new blogs from the Blog Rolls of others. I decided to return the favor and recommend some that I love to read.

    The next and only thing left for me to do is to include a photo of myself. I'm being badgered to do it, and I'm losing my resolve to resist. Come spring, when I can use a rosy background, I'll get this done.


  12. Thank you all for the kind comments.

    to Amy: Poll is a standard gadget on Blogger. You can adapt it to one choice or multiple, and change the length of time it lasts.

    leavesnbloom -- I tweak my sidebar, never satisfied, but I leave the blog roll because of bloggers like Donna who are not on Blotanical. I had a label cloud that was from a reliable source, but I changed when Blogger added theirs. Caution in using non-Google gadgets is a good plan.

    Janet, my butterfly Labels were so prolific that I broke them down on the label into Butterfly_Gulf Frit, Butterfly_Monarch and so on. Can you do that with Tree_Pecan, Tree_Juniper?

    Bangchik, text gadgets load faster than gadgets with photos.

    Donna, the avatar is clothed in my summer garden uniform, lol.

    Autumn Belle I like to read some info about the blogger, too. Makes me remember to look at their blog again.

    Curbstone Valley, I finally put all my feeds, non-garden bloggers and links into a dropdown list on the Browser menu, not my blog, because there are so many. The only down side to that is my sources are not available to those who read my blog.

    Jan, when I want to comment on a blog in my reader, I just click on the post Title and it flips right to the blog.

    It's all fun, checking out blogs and sidebars.

  13. I cannot see the avatar of you and Buffy.

    Pouting and complaining.

  14. My sidebar changes with my moods it seems. LOL! I think the one must have for every blog is a Translator. There are so many wonderful blogs out there now that I would love to know what goes with the pictures.Since I wanted to know I thought others visiting might feel the same way so definitely a Translator.
    Glad to see you got all of those Violas planted Nell and that there were no plants injured with Buffy's aide. LOL!

  15. You've reminded me. I need to add a translator.

    I have a 'twit this' gadget but really don't know if it is ever used or of benefit.

    Great info Nell Jean

  16. Tell me you didn't spend 'hours' searching on a blogspot blog. (Little search box up in the top left corner)Or in any blog. Use the search engine to find 'blog title' and your 'query'. To my quiet horror, even these comments can be searched by their words. I prefer to keep my side bar as KISS - short and simple - as I can. Love the new summer avatar!

  17. Goodness! My sidebar is simple by default. I had to wait for my son to come home at Christmas to help me install the Blotanical picture, as I couldn't figure that out on my own. I am getting better. I recently installed a search widget, and I love that thing. i have played with it, but I don't know if others have used it yet. Actually, I do like sites which are clean and simple. I don't like the cluttered look.

  18. I see you have a twin again on the list of most active members. Now, I know your secret ... there are two of you picking, writing posts, commenting, etc...LOL I think I need a twin blogger...:)

  19. Great post, and good food for thought. I think that it is almost pruning time again in my blog.

    I like a simple uncluttered look, and things are getting a little overgrown.


  20. My fascination with gadgets and widgets comes and goes. I try to keep the blog as simple as possible.

    There are so many great blogs to read that I divided it roughly in half to try to direct people to more of the linked blogs. Thumbnails take up too much room for the number of blogs that I link.

    I also try to sort out the professional media and link those below my info, my professional links.

    I like the "who am I" info on blogs that includes a bit of history (like my garden was started in 2005). I use "a cartoon" of my photo because my husband really doesn't like for our photos to last for eternity on the Web.

    Because some of my blog stories can be republished in newspapers, I have to put a tighter control on personal stories; use a byline and include legal stuff.

    For that reason, it is difficult for me to participate in monthly MEME themes without being too repetitive for republishing. I feel like I'm missing out on some fun, but it would be too much to maintain 2 blogs - one fun and one professional.

    What is difficult for me on other blogs -- a black or dark background with light print. It's all I can do to read those posts -- my eyes are very sensitive to glare.


  21. I totally agree with you concerning labels and dated archives which in way help so much in time management and places of interest - rather than clicking (older post) over & over again.

    I like your avatar too - very cute.

  22. I'm still very much learning about blogging, widgets etc. so I just wanted to pop in and say 'thank you' for all the helpful tips. I'm not sure that Wordpress can do a blogroll in the same way as Blogger (with post times etc.) I'm still trying to figure that out!

  23. Thanks for the reminder about the search box, Diana. I wasn't searching the new to me blog, I was browsing. Each archive month had many long, long posts and no way to see what each held except to scroll the whole length. Search was useless; labels and titles could have been easily browsed.
    (I didn't really spend hours; just more minutes than necessary.)

  24. NellJean~~~ Never in a million years did I think I'd actually enjoy learning html. I'm pleasantly surprised by the vast number of user-friendly tutorials out there, catering to wannabees like myself.

    Your violas are lovely. How could anyone not love these diminutive beauties?

  25. violas on sidebar, that is interesting. This is very informative post. I like the masses of your violas. Your avatar is very amusing as well.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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