Blog Tools We Are Trying Out

by Pat Alexander on August 23, 2010 · 7 comments

It has been a while since we shared with you some different technologies and plugins that are being tested and used at Insurance Ecosystem’s blog and other places.  Some of these have been around for a very long time but little known or used and others just discovered(there are so many great tools).  I believe that some of these tools are important to use as they show your brand around the web.  You might be surprised by the number of people that tell me what my logo at PatAlexander.Com is when they meet me or talk to me the first time.  It is different, it is memorable and it follows me everywhere.  Some of these tools I have installed and set up myself.  Others have need of someone with more technical knowledge than I have.  Especially when I want custom coding.  I can always count on the awesome Kim Woodbridge at (Anti) Social Development when I’m in too deep.

Stick People Plugin.jpg

So here we go:

A Globally Recognized Avatar Your Gravatar is an image that follows you from site to site appearing beside your name when you do things like comment or post on a blog. Avatars help identify your posts on blogs and web forums.  It is free and easy to set it up and it really looks nice when you comment at a blog.

Ever wonder how the site’s logo gets into the site’s URL?  You create your favicon at this site.  There are instructions at the site for getting this set up at your site.

The plugin converts the favicon.ico from the blogroll links from ICO to PNG format and save the converted image in a local cache directory.  All conversion processes works just on the admin-page, visitors don’t have to spend time to wait for favicons from remote websites. If a blogroll entry was added or modified this single Link will be processed.  I use this plugin both at this site and at PatAlexander.Com

IntenseDebate’s comment system enhances and encourages conversation on your blog or website.  I use this at every site I set up and manage.  I really like the way that you can reply to a specific comment on a blog post.  This allows for an actual conversation to be strung together seamlessly.

Snap Shots uses your links to bring the most appropriate information about the sites you’re pointing to. Your audience doesn’t even have to leave your site to get the best of other sites.  I use this at both this site and PatAlexander.Com.  WARNING:  This functionality can be irritating to your site’s visitors.  You should visit one of these sites to see how it works before you decide to install at your site.

A very simple widget that displays a link to the pages with the most number of comments. You can customize the title of the widget, the number of posts to display and comment count.  I found this when a client asked for it at their website.  I have added to the Insurance Ecosystem sidebars.  It is a great quick look at which posts are getting the most comment traffic.

Testimonials Manager is a WordPress plugin that allows you to manage and display testimonials for your blog, product or service. It can be used to build your portfolio or to encourage readers to subscribe / buy your products.  This is also a plugin I found while searching for an easy way for a client to manage these.  I am not using this plugin yet, but you can see how it works at  I will be installing and updating soon at my PatAlexander.Com site.

A plugin to aid in managing groups of photos.  I am currently testing this plugin live at  I plan to install at PatAlexander.Com and The Glamour of the Road in the near future.  I think it is a great tool for insurance agencies that want to share photos of events at their site.

That is it for now.  Everyone that reads the Ecosystem blog is interested in new ideas and plugins.  Please share what you are using that is new, cool and helpful.

  • Pat,

    This is a great list of tools. Another good comment system is Disqus. Very easy to use and Avatar follows you to many different comment systems including all blogs using Disqus.


    Ryan H.,

  • Nick, as always valuable information. I am familiar with Technorati but not Blogengage. I will check that out. I just consider the"All in One SEO Pack" as mandatory. Thanks for engaging.

  • I think the Twitter integration widget is a must-have as well. Tells the site visitor that whil you may have not posted an article to the blog since the last one, you are continuing to add value via Twitter micro-posts. Big fan of the Tag Cloud widget as well. I'm working on installing intenseDebate and Snapshots this week. Good stuff. Thanks for sharing.

    Btw, "Most Popular" is a little misleading. Shouldn't it be "Most Commented"? I'd consider most popular to be "Most Read" or "Most Shared". But is there anyway to track "Share"?
    My recent post New York Life Hits the Social Media Nail on the Head

    • Mike, I agree that if the site owner twitters they should have a twitter widget. There a number of these and I use different ones at different sites. I think I will do a separate post on this. I guess I just don't get the Tag Cloud widget. Could explain why that would be valuable to the reader? The title on the Most Popular can be changed to whatever the site owner wants it to be. Good point that most commented could be a better description. I don't know if you can track "Share" I will check that out.

      Hope you enjoy Intense Debate and Snapshots. Thanks for engaging.

  • To me, the Tag Cloud give a visual snapshot as to what themes the author has been writing about. It's almost like a pre-loaded search tool if there's lots of content. When you click on a tag of interest, the site will bring up all the content with that tag. So in the end it's another way to make the site useful for the visitor. Kind of hard to explain. Check out the Tag Cloud on my blog to see what I'm trying to describe…. Plus it looks cool!
    My recent post New York Life Hits the Social Media Nail on the Head

    • Mike, thanks for the insight. I will give it a try. It is always helpful to understand the use of different functionalities.

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