One of the differences between WordPress.com and .org is what you can or can’t do with HTML and widgets.
Widgets are small pieces of programming or applications that are designed to be placed in the sidebars. WordPress.com provides a very good selection for you to use, all perfectly satisfactory for creating a basic blog. But these do have some restrictions for what you can do with them, and placing HTML that hasn’t been approved by WordPress in the text widgets is one of them.
This has caused many disgruntled bloggers to come to me to say “it’s not working properly!” They see the wonderful results of HTML that does work on WordPress.org blogs, and when they try to produce the same results they are bitterly disappointed.
You can’t expect all the singing-and-dancing benefits from WordPress.org on your .com blog if you are not playing for it. Be grateful that you get Akismet for free, and accept that the Twitter Badges’ code cannot be placed into the text widgets and allowed to work, likewise with videos and podcasts placed inside posts (this facility has been withdrawn as a result of the most recent WordPress.com redesign).
But certain widgets have been created as compensation. It used to be almost impossible to place an image within a text widget, because it required simple HTML. Now there is an Image widget that allows you to upload the URL of a previously uploaded image from the media gallery, and everything is done for you, including title, alt tags, caption, alignment, dimensions and a link to elsewhere, all perfect for enhancing your SEO.
There is a Facebook Like Box widget that connects with your Facebook Page and a link to the page and how many have ‘liked’ it. You have the choice of showing some examples of your fans’ avatars, your profile stream or your Page’s wall activity.
The Follow Blog widget allows your readers to subscribe to your latest posts, instead of having to create a Feedburner RSS feed and placing the code in a text widget (although this HTML is generally allowed). You can change the wording and call to action within the sign up box without having to worry about HTML.
And even if you can’t place a Twitter Badge on your WordPress.com blog, the Twitter widget that displays your latest tweets is a very good substitute, accompanied by a good choice of beneficial add-ons.
I’m amazed at what you can do to optimise your WordPress.com blog. But – if you still hanker after all the other gimzos that you see on other blogs, then you will have to take the leap and transfer your posts and pages onto a WordPress.org blog, and then the world will be your oyster!