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Anyone can slap pictures and text on a web page and call it a blog. It's much harder to make a blog that stands out from the pack and gets people reading it regularly. One way to do so is by dressing up your site with widgets.
Widgets are essentially tiny programs that add functionality, transforming your blog into something useful and unique. For instance, a widget can display your photos, an RSS feed from another site, a list of songs you've listened to lately, or even a map that shows the places you've visited.
Adding widgets to your blog is gener-ally painless. In fact, some services supply their own, making installation an easy, automated process. One such service is WordPress, which offers a calendar widget, a widget for displaying your blog stats, a Flickr widget, and more. To install one, select the Presentation link, click on Widgets, and then drag and drop the one you want onto your blog.
TypePad has an even wider selection, offering everything from a Google calendar widget to a widget that displays a daily cocktail. Click on the Design tab and then search the Widget Gallery. When you select one you like, TypePad automatically adds it to the sidebar of your blog.
Even if you're not using one of these services, you can add widgets to your site. Some widgets include an automatic installation option for popular blogging services, which takes the brainwork out of incorporating them. Otherwise, you'll need to copy the widget's code (there's typically a button that selects the right code for you) and paste it into your blog's template.
We recommend placing widgets in your blog's sidebar, which makes them available on all pages (unless you've set up your blog to publish individual pages with different templates or sets of rules).
WordPress makes things a little more challenging. Because the service blocks a number of commonly used HTML tags, many third-party widgets won't display properly (especially ones with dynamic images and scripts).
Still, if you want to give it a whirl, go to the Presentation tab and click on Widgets. Drag the Text widget to your sidebar, click on the configure icon, and paste the code into the sidebar's body. WordPress.org offers an installable version of its software that will let you install other widgets of your choosing-, as long as you have your own web host and are confident about doing some site administration. If you're using Vox or Tumblr, you're out of luck. Neither service provides a way to place widgets in the sidebar.