Here's a few of the best treats for your blog I've come across lately:
1. FavIcons from Pics. I found this through Liz at Successful Blog. Favicons--or favorite icons--are the little teensy icons you see at the front of a site's URL (if you look at the top where my URL is right now you'll see an orange Blogger B). This site will walk you through the process of installing a favicon for free.
Favicons are helpful in branding your blog--in creating an idea in each visitor's mind about what your blog represents, what it offers and why visitors should return. Problogger has several articles about this subject here and here.
Why doesn't Scribbit have a favicon? [Sheepishly] Well I plan to, but I want it to be my logo and I still have yet to design that. Anyone want to design a great, snappy logo for me?
2. Blurb. Many bloggers blog as a form of record keeping, as an online journal. This site will allow you to put your blog into book form through software called BookSmart which can be downloaded at their site. The cost starts at $12.95 for a 40-page book which is quite reasonable, the software itself is free.
This is one of the things I plan to do . . . eventually . . . but if anyone has had experience with this product please let me know. I'd love to read a first-person review.
3. CSS Play. As I mentioned in a previous post on CSS Play, my drop-down menu was created by Stu Nicholls who has the code to create all sorts of tools for your blog. When I had problems with the code Stu even took the time to help me fix it. I am one satisfied customer.
Anything that can organize your blog and the information you want to provide is a good thing and will build loyalty in your readers--especially this reader. I love people and blogs that are well-organized.
4. Flooble. See those collapsible menus on my sidebar labeled "Archives" and "Blogs I Read"? Those can be created through Flooble.com where they'll walk you through putting those blog rolls and scrolling menus into neat, tidy packages.
Now there's no excuse for unsightly messes on your sidebar with piles of scrolling menus amid the debris of buttons and blogrolls. Clean it up and get on with the blogging.
5. Soapbox Jury and Flatline Web Design. Two sites for blog diagnostics where you can get reviews of your blog. Nurse Betty at Flatline will give your blog a diagnosis faster than you could get one at a real ER.
Now, having given you five good tools here are three things about which I am decidedly less enthusiastic (translation: I don't like them). Please don't be offended if you love them, it doesn't matter, I'll still visit and comment much too often. I'm just offering one small opinion about some bandwagons everyone seems to be crowding onto.
1. My Blog Log. This gimmick means clutter on your sidebar that forces visitors into the sunlight. Once you join My Blog Log and create a profile with a photo, when you visit other blogs that have the My Blog Log strip on their sidebar you be added to the list of visitors, complete with a picture.
I thought that this was what comments were for. If someone wants you to know they visited your blog, they'll leave a comment. Otherwise they may not want to be revealed in this way.
So to summarize: My Blog Log is a way of forcibly delurking visitors through a redundant system that takes up valuable space on your blog. Three strikes and it's out.
2. Snap. Another blogging annoyance worse than the first. Snap is the widget that creates a pop-up preview of any link on your page. For example, if I were using this on my blog and if you were to hover over the word Snap at the beginning of this paragraph a tiny pop-up window of Snap's homepage would appear.
I set Firefox to block all pop up ads. I dislike their intrusion and the time I waste dealing with them so why would I knowingly install something on my blog that does virtually the same thing?
Snap windows block whatever I may be reading, give me little information and usually appear because I've mistakenly hovered over a link with my cursor. On the other hand, if I was trying to click on the link and Snap appears, the window itself won't get me there so it just delays my ability to get to what I'm aiming for. Delay is never a good thing. Ever. Except maybe in regards to executions. Only then.
3. Music on Blogs. Sometimes I'll visit a blog where inexplicably, out of the mysteries of the blogosphere, a song begins to play. It's never a song on my own playlist but a song chosen for me by another blogger set to play as long as I'm on the page. It's the blogging equivalent of being trapped in an elevator with The Carpenters, Menudo or Milli Vanilli. Though once I heard an Annie Lennox song that I kind of liked but usually when the music starts it has the effect of screaming "Run Away! Run Away!" to me.
And the worst thing? Adding music to your blog causes your pages to download . . . very . . . very . . . slowly. Kind of like Seinfeld's slow talker. Those pages can even lock up my computer (yes, I know I should get a Macbook but that's beside the point) so I have to restart--not a way to win friends and influence people.
So think about why you're installing these items and how they may affect your readers before joining the stampede of blogging lemmings out there. Ouch. That's probably too harsh but before you jump with the others give it some thought.
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