Monday, March 23, 2015

A smaller "follow" button

There are 3 sidebar gadgets that allow your readers to follow your blog on their blog dashboards. (No luck if they don't have dashboards.)

They're worthwhile, but I don't use them. this blog

Sidebar real estate is precious, and the standard gadgets are too big for my taste (and there are other issues). I use a smaller button and link that I cobbled together myself.

Here's how to do that, if you like.

Besides size, there are semantic problems with the standard gadgets.

Why does the button on the gadgets invite readers to "join this site" rather than "follow this blog?" What's all this about "signing in" and being a "member"?

Following today is limited to people with Blogger dashboards (though you can follow anything that has a feed). It is all that remains of one of Google's first attempts at social, Google Friend Connect.

In that framework, the idea of membership had some currency. You were joining, sharing, connecting, etc.

That historical note makes the whole thing a little clearer, but not to your readers.

My smaller "follow" button gadget, really some code in a html/Javascript widget, has the following three parts:
  • a link to the log-in screen for Google Friend Connect (that's "following" to you) for my blog (that is, it has my blog's ID number in it)
  • a button that says "follow" linked to the above
  • the words "this blog," part of the hyperlink.
You could use a different image, or different text, or dispense with image or text altogether. (Example: Follow this blog!) But here are the parts all together:

<a href=" 874282079821965484" target="_blank" title="Follow this blog"><img border="0" style="float:left; margin-right:4px; margin-top:-1px;" src="" /> this blog</a>

The only thing you need to change is the blog ID number (in red). You can copy your number from your dashboard. Be sure to get the right one.

If you forget and use my blog ID number, your readers will end up following my blog and nobody will be happy.

Put the corrected code in a html/Javascript widget. To save even more space, leave the gadget title blank.


  1. It is possible to stick little things like this straight into the template. I had a paypal button in my profile for a time. The 'back to top' code I put in the template html (I think it's in the pagelist div, not sure now)..
    Saves adding heavy loading gadgets....

    1. Al, that is a reasonable approach, and if you want to describe how to do it on your blog or web site I will link to that.

      For this blog I have a bias against telling people to crack open the template code and all that entails.

      It's not a hard and fast rule, but if I can help people to do something another way I prefer that way.

      This does lead to a heavy reliance on HTML gadgets and all that entails, but I think it is a lot easier for many people to manage things that way.