Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why Readers Hate Your Blog Widgets

As an avid blogger, you probably dream about that day when you'll be able to make a living off your Google AdSense income. Every minute, you'll have a new visitor and you'll be able to declare your Google PageRank without squirming in embarassment.
Of course, in order to reach this level, you need a quality blog. That's a given. And to have a quality blog, naturally, it has to be awesomely useful and entertaining.
Then, you see the light, your savior. Blog widgets! Blog widgets can let readers check Facebook, check their horoscopes, send texts, see the forecast, and just about anything else that you could imagine being awesomely useful and entertaining.
Unfortunately, widgets don't lead to success, and it could even be argued that they actually detract from your blog's overall appeal.
So before you add a widget to your blog, think about these 3 things:

1. Is it relevant?

Now, it is true that your blog should be awesomely useful and entertaining. However, it is not true that your blog has to do everything anybody could ever ask for. Do you think that people need your blog to check the weather? There's the Weather Network, the iPhone weather app, and Yahoo! Weather. Your blog is the last place anyone would check for the five-day forecast.
One of the key principles in marketing is focus. Focus is essential to the success of any brand, and actually, the same goes for your blog. If you have a horoscope widget, a Pac-Man game widget, a slideshow of landscape photos, and a Time Magazine widget, people will be confused. What's your blog's purpose? But more importantly, what am I going to go to your blog for? For my blog, people will visit to find out about the latest in tech from the perspective of an average Joe. Therefore, I do not display the price of gas, dictionary or love calculator on my page.

2. Will people care?

Even if a widget is entirely relevant to your blog's material, you have to consider a question that people often like to hide from: Will people actually interact with this widget? I could have a widget for technology news on the sidebar of my blog, but I am well aware that nobody would care to use this. When people want news, they go to Time or Google News, not Useful Crap.

3. Load time

And finally, you have to bear in mind that any widget will add to your page's loading time. People hate waiting for a blog to load. If it begins to take too long or the process slows down their computer, it's possible that they'll just close the page before they read anything. Overcrowding a blog with widgets, however relevant and useful, will piss your readers off.

Now, if a widget passes all of these tests, then you can safely add it to your page. But before getting too excited about every one of the thousands of widgets in Widgetbox's gallery, think about how your readers feel.

1 comment:

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