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Marshall's Web Tool Blog

Training and Consulting in New Tools for Effective Web Use

This site is an archive of posts that I hope you will find useful. Please visit my new site at Marshallk.com.

A Check-List of Blog Bells and Whistles

Why have a blog if you don't gussy it up for maximum usability, promotion power and participation in the conversations that make up the blogosphere? Below is a list of some of my favorite options for advanced blog features, often add-ons that respond to the needs blogger discover they have that aren't supported by their blogging software. In other cases, third party service providers can provide superior functionality.

This post was inspired by one at Suzzane Falter-Barnes' Painless Self Promotion blog, about a consultancy called the Blog Squad who are helping her upgrade her blog. After reading their excellant suggestions, I realized I have a few more myself. So here's a list of add-ons I chose between when advising on the creation or upgrade of a blog.

  • Technorati Tag bookmarklet. Drop this puppy in your browser's toolbar and save yourself lots of time and help people find your site by tagging each article appropriately.
  • Feedburner RSS feed. These folks are on the forefront of RSS feed creation. They do a great job and are always pushing the envelope.
  • One-click RSS buttons, for the major RSS reader programs. Here's a story about creating these buttons for someone, with the code to do it.
  • Pingoat to tell all the major blog search engines and other parties of interest that you have updated your site and they should come back and index your content again. Key concept, and Pingoat is doing a very good job.
  • One-click bookmark links for each article via Furl.net and Del.icio.us. The world of social bookmarking is very important, and I think that participation in it is a good means of promotion and increasing your usefulness. Here's my write up on the one-click links.
  • FeedDigest spliced syndication and side-bar displays of any RSS feeds of interest to you. Here's a post about these tools being put into action to create an alert system for an organization's supporters.
  • Reputation tracking. You have got to be notified right away whenever anyone is linking to you. Here's how I do that for clients and for myself.
  • Haloscan commenting and trackbacks. Attractive, reliable, very low cost. Much better than what this blog software includes. Here's my write up when I initially installed this system on my site.
  • StatCounter, a site traffic monitor that's easy to install and use. It's very useful and has both free and paid levels.
  • Talkr feed, or blog text turned to MP3 sound files and delivered via RSS. Very simple, good for accesibility, and sometimes very handy for me when I want to go for a walk and get away from the computer but still want to listen to what someone is writing about. My write up on Talkr is here.
  • E-Mail subscription service. Some people use it, some people don't. I have far more readers by RSS than I do by email, but I still think it's an important option. Here's my write up on adding this service from a company called Bloglet, but thanks to the discussion over at Falter-Barnes' site I'll be checking out Feedblitz.
There are other concepts and tools out there, but these are the ones I think are best developed and the ones I am most familiar with. I am sure this is only the begining, and the future of blog-centric web applications will look very different from the present. But regardless, I want to get what I can out of them now as well as getting an early understanding of the tools before they get too packaged by the big computer guys.

These are the kinds of things I consider when deciding how to advise in the creation of a client's blog. I hope this list is of use to some of you. Feel free to leave other suggestions in case I'm missing anything.

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