Blog DIY #3: Widgets and links

Functions & widgets

You can enhance your blog by activating a wide range of plug-ins and widgets. These are little tools set into your blog which allow you to add extra functions – things like Twitter feeds or Google maps or the covers of your favourite books from Shelfari or GoodReads.

We’ll talk more about these in the weeks to come, but in the meantime, have a play with them and see what they do. You can always take them off again.

Here’s how to add widgets:

Log in to your dashboard and click on Appearance, then Widgets. You’ll see a range of options in the centre of the page. All you do is choose one and drag it over to the right hand side of the page, where it says Primary Widget Area.

Once you drag the widget across, it will open up and ask you for more information. This depends on the function: if it’s an Image widget, for example, it will ask you to upload or add an image, which will then appear on your blog – usually in a column on either side of every page. It might just ask you to call it something, and do all the work itself. Or it might ask you for code from another service like Twitter or Goodreads.

Plug-ins are similar, but they can add functions in places other that the side columns. For example, plug-ins such as Add This will allow people to see little buttons for twitter and Facebook they can use to share your posts with others. Other plug-ins help you create forms or discussion forums.

Plug-ins are listed separately on the left hand menu in your Dashboard. If you’re using WordPress, you have access to thousands, while Global2 offers a range of approved plug-ins that are listed in your Dashboard.

 How to add link  lists (Blogroll)

Most blogs feature a list of other blogs that the owner likes and reads (called a Blogroll), or sites that might be useful or interesting.

You can add, edit and remove links in your blog Dashboard by choosing Links on the left hand side. Fill out each field, and add your link to a category. The categories separate the links on the page with sub-headings. you can make your own categories or change the existing ones, by choosing Link categories.

Image of blog links dashboard