Widgets make a blog great or they mar it

Widgets are those stand-alone elements in a blog that take care of all matters other than the core content. Technically they are small programs that are attached to the webpage's code and are executed from the webpage. They cull out matter from myriad sources, process it and present it on the blog. 

Since widgets are not the core content of a blog, they compete for attention with the core content and other elements on the blog. There has to be a compromise between the value added on one side and space taken / conflict for attention on the other. Widgets and such other elements have the potential to ‘make or mar’ your blog in a big way, so you must have a look at each widget and the whole blog separately for these two aspects - value rendered and cost in terms of space / attention / conflict.

Do not put too many widgets on the blog. Once they become a crowd, they put off the visitor. 

Even a few widgets can be annoying if they are too flashy, irritatingly animated or out of shape.  

Also consider the placing of widgets. Do not stuff sidebar(s) with a large number of widgets. If for some reason you must keep some widgets that do not add great value to the blog, put them down in the sidebar or at the bottom of the blog.

Many free widgets on the web have a link to the creator of the widget. This is true also of badges. Use such widgets and badges if you think that associating with them enhances your blog's value. 

Usually do not put widgets that trick the visitor into clicking on it and take him to a website selling widgets or other items.  Even when hidden sale is not involved, a big link-text can be irritating. While reviewing blogs, we recently saw a cute fairy widget on one blog, with a witty remark coming from the fairy. But just below the remark was this irritating, animated text: ‘If you liked me, you can visit me for more such widgets, at www...’.

We have seen blogs with many widgets that contain links to other posts, labels / categories, and external sites, but a number of these links don’t open. Some widgets stop working or updating content after some time. Therefore, do check every few months whether the links and widgets [especially those not provided by the blogging platforms such as Wordpress and Blogger] are working or not. 

The worst of the lot are those with malicious code or a code that pulls the visitor's private data. Be wary of such widgets as these not only damage your reputation and popularity, they can harm your and others' personal lives and lead to your blog being banned from reputed directories. Before copy-pasting widgets from the web, check their code and/or Google them to know their authenticity.

Avoid these:
- widgets with text that is difficult to read because of its style or size;
- widgets with colors that pop up too much or completely submerge the widget content in the background;
- a few too light or too dark widgets in the sidebar of the opposite contrast;
- widgets needing scrolling [e.g. a newsreel that needs you to scroll a bar to read the news];
- more than one heavy widget [e.g. video bar] on a page;
- audio / video widgets that start playing on opening the blog [e.g. playing of a tune];
- too many advertisements, especially those between posts, and big ones;
- pop-up widgets [especially those needing action before they let you go further]. 

- content – popular posts, related posts, latest comments, labels, profile, search box, archives
- community – social media, subscription, feed, blogroll, polls
- utilities – clock, calendar, currency converter, map, tips, translator
- dynamic updates – daily quotes, newsreel, trends, stock quotes, stat counters, visitors, weather
- fun and show – game, jokes, celebrities, slide show, photo-stream, video bar, songs
- advertisements

Our experiences in listing the topmost Indian blogs

For Top Blogs, it has been painful year in some respects, but a lot rewarding. It is now among the top Indian blogging sites!

We issued the first formal list of top Indian blogs in February 2011. We received a few kudos but many brickbats. We were equated with link exchanges and some bloggers felt we had arrived on Indian blogging scene to make money by offering listing on the Directory for a fee. Some felt, and shared with others, that we were outright cheats. We now know that many of them did so with the good intent of cautioning co-bloggers, but some were hell-bent on berating us. Some had a 'proof' of our dubiousness in that we were not associated with a big website and we had not included their highly popular blogs in the best blogs' listing. On a blog, the blogger had mentioned that she was were embarrassed that her blog had found a mention in Top Blogs list!

We responded with this post explaining our position. We commented on a few blogs to clarify our position. We offered that if a blogger wanted his/ her blog to be deleted from the Indian top blogs list, we’d do so. We also learnt quite a few lessons from some very well-meaning criticism.

The hard work soon started paying in pleasant ways.

We were surprised at Indian bloggers' reactions, when we sat to analyze the conduct of our initial critics - 50 of them. We discovered that nearly half of them had submitted their blogs for a detailed review by us (a free facility that had to be discontinued later due to too much demand that we could not cater to, but we plan to start it again). Six bloggers had submitted their blogs for showcase on Top Blogs. Eleven were in the updated Directory of Best Indian Blogs, but nobody asked us to remove their blogs from the Directory. At least five had put our badge on their blogs!

We have received immensely encouraging and kind words from bloggers whose blogs we’ve reviewed in detail. Some blogger friends have asked us to expand to related activities such as issuing e-books, accepting guest posts, offering paid services etc. Our Directory of Best Indian Blogs and other lists have found mention in many respectable Indian websites. Our badges can be seen on over 200 blogs (after that we stopped counting), despite the fact that many bloggers whose blogs are listed in the Directory might not even be aware of this.

It gives us satisfaction that in the last six months, we have written nearly two dozen exhaustive posts highlighting different aspects of blogging. These range from blogging-bloomers to content quality, putting images and labeling.

We’ve fumbled too. On a friend’s advice we started search engine optimization (SEO) tricks-of-the-trade. We are glad that we’ve discarded them all except for a very few sensible and natural practices of cross-referencing, etc. We also thought of giving a thrust to interactivity by encouraging comments on our posts but soon found ourselves unable to even reciprocate greetings. We do comment on other websites/ blogs, but too infrequently. We also tried to plunge into social networking but when we realized that we had no time for activities beyond our core commitment. We are only routinely active on a few social networking sites.

Committed to keep showcasing the top Indian blogs

We are bound by our core commitment: helping bloggers with advice - especially non-techie bloggers; and promoting good blogs – especially Indian blogs. This is our strength too. We can claim to be the only team that has reviewed over 400 blogs in detail, browsed over 30,000 Indian blogs for quality checking and critically examined over 5,000 blogs (so far).

We are committed to keep releasing the Directory of Best Indian Blogs year after year, on quality parameters, very fairly and without charging fee.

We do a lot of reading and learning, and a bit of research. We would keep publishing posts with tips on various aspects of blogging. If you ever want to check how and in which direction the Indian blogging is growing, you could have a look at our analytical posts like the one we recently published: Indian blogging 

We wish all our blogger friends all success in their blogging endeavors!