24 must-have widgets for your blog

One of the best features of blog platforms is that they’re so customisable. Through plugins and widgets, you can easily add handy sharing capabilities, lists of recent posts, a live Twitter feed, whatever you like — adapting your design to your needs, setting it apart from the competition and making it distinct.

Here’s a look at some of the coolest WordPress and Blogger widgets out there, to help you spice up your blog with the features that are right for you.

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For WordPress

Better Recent Posts Pro
Enhanced way to list recent posts in a widget, complete with control over which posts are displayed and how they are displayed (i.e. with author, date, comment count, post excerpt, how long of an excerpt, etc.)

Featured Post/Featured Page
These widgets give you a way to highlight certain content you want to draw attention to. They’re a great option for shining some focus on older posts with good information.

Say you’re the blog of a local golf club. With GetSocial, your blog has a floating social share counter on the side of the page, one which will automatically adjust and adapt to fit all screen resolutions and sizes. This makes it incredibly easy for users to share your content, whether golf club tee times or latest updates, with their networks.

jQuery Accordion Menu
This is one of those widgets that can make your blog look slick. It creates accordion-style vertical menus from any WordPress custom menu.

Pinterest Pinboard Widget
Integrate your Pinterest boards with your blog through this simple widget. It displays thumbnails of your latest pins and links to your Pinterest account.

Subscription Options
This widget gives you attractive, colorful icons that link to subscription options for your RSS feed, FeedBurner email service, Twitter, Facebook and more—encouraging visitors to click-through to follow you online.

Say you’re a dentist looking to connect with potential patients via blogging—why not add a section of dental patient testimonials to reinforce your message? Display positive feedback through this convenient widget that showcases testimonials on your WordPress site.

Top 10
This widget tracks daily and overall page views on single posts. With it, you can display a list of popular posts that’s ranked by page views, cluing your readers in on what’s hot lately at your site.

Widget Context
For the ultimate in widget customization, try Widget Context. It allows you to control where and when your widgets are displayed, whether on the front page only or on posts or only for content from certain categories.

WP Category Post List Widget
Say you want to display an automatic list of the five most recent news posts from the blog. This plugin gives you the ability to create lists of posts filtered by category, complete with thumbnails if desired. You have total control over the sorting method and HTML structure of the widget.

If you’ve ever wanted to use your blog for market research, this highly customisable widget makes it simple. Through WP-Polls, you can add a poll system to a post or page, asking visitors the question of your choice, with a multiple selection of custom answers.

Encourage discussion on your blog by making it easy for readers to view most recent comments. This plugin gives you control over number of comments, length of excerpts and whether or not to display pingbacks/trackbacks.

For Blogger

Facebook Fan Page Badge
Advertise your Facebook fan page directly on your blog through the handy badge widget from Facebook. It creates an image with your logo, name and number of fans which links back to your Facebook page.

Floating Facebook Twitter Counters
This floating widget encourages blog readers to share your content on social networks. Customisations allow you to change the alignment and/or add more buttons for additional networks.

Popular Posts
Attract more eyes to the posts that are already drawing conversation. This widget gives you the ability to display a list of your ten most commented-on posts.

Random Posts
This widget displays a list of random posts from your blog and can be configured to your specifications in terms of colours, size, font, etc.

Recent Posts
Similar to the random posts widget, this tool displays your most recently published posts and can be fully customized to your style.

Recommended Post Slide-Out
Modeled after a popular feature at major sites like the New York Times, Mashable and others, this widget creates a slide-out that shows random posts from you blog. Beneath “recommended for you,” the slide-out entices readers to click through to more content.

Related Posts by LinkWithin
Draw readers deeper within your site through LinkWithin’s handy related posts plugin. It creates thumbnail links beneath every post, linking to related content within your archives.

Retweet Button
Make it easy for readers to share your content on Twitter through the Retweet Button widget, which not only allows them to share in a single click but also tracks how many times a post has been shared.

One of the most popular sharing tools not just on Blogger but also on WordPress, Drupal, Typepad and various other blog platforms, ShareThis adapts to any screen, whether PC, mobile or tablet.

Top Authors
For blogs with multiple authors, the Top Authors widget can be handy, as it lists all blog authors with the number of posts they’ve contributed. This can be a powerful way to reward top posters and draw readers into more of your site.

Integrate your Twitter stream with your blog through this plugin that lets you customize how many of your recent posts display.

What do you think? Has this list inspired you to make some additions to your own site? What other widgets have you found most helpful?

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