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Pimp your Blogspot blog

Blogger in Draft

Yesterday we gave you a few pointers on pimping out your WordPress blog. So today we figured it was time to point out a couple of quick and easy ways to make your Blogspot site look a bit less like you ripped a page out of Blogging for Dummies.

As you may be aware, part of the reason Google's Blogger service is so popular is that it's incredibly easy to use. All files are hosted on Google's server, and all you have to do is pick a template and start writing. You can also add widgets to your site by choosing from a list of options in the layout tab of Blogger. If you really know what you're doing you can customize the HTML for your page layout or add custom widgets to your sidebar.

But even if you don't know a lick about HTML, Blogger has a few hidden tricks up its sleeve. If you go to draft.blogger.com instead of www.blogger.com, you can access a bunch of experimental widgets that Google has decided aren't ready for mainstream consumption just yet.

We first looked at Blogger in Draft last year when Google launched the ability to upload videos to Google Video using the Blogger client. Since then, Google has launched a slew of new widgets, including the ability to take polls, show photo slideshows, or display iGoogle gadgets. You can also use the Subscription Links widget to give visitors the option of subscribing to your feed using Google, Bloglines, Newsgator, Yahoo!, or Netvibes.

Two of the most useful new widgets are the new Search Box and Blog List features. Blog List lets you add a list of your favorite blogs to the sidebar. Of course, you could always do this by hand by using the Link List widget. But Blog List lets you import feeds selectively from your Google Reader account. Be forewarned, if you've got a few hundred feeds, prepare for your web browser to freeze up on you for a while.

At first glance, the new Search Box doesn't look that special. There are dozens of ways to install a search box on your blog, after all. But what makes the new Search Box stand out is that visitors can search your site without opening a new page. When they enter a query, the results will be displayed in the same part of your screen where blog posts normally show up. Users can search the site, the web, or sites your blog links to. When they're done searching, they can click a little X button and the search results disappear. So they never have to leave your blog.

Tags: blogger, blogger-in-draft, blogspot, draft.blogger.com, widgets

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