Widgets are about competitive position

If you have a TypePad blog, ease of use just got easier with TypePad Widgets.

From Six Apart’s press release:

[Six Apart has] launched a new, open widget initiative to expand choice and functionality for TypePad subscribers and readers. Thirty-three widgets are ready today that put new interactive features into blogs, such as job searching, game playing, weather tracking, and photo sharing. Widget installation is a snap, taking no more than a few clicks. A complete widget directory is available at http://www.sixapart.com/typepad/widgets.

I can imagine TypePad users will be very pleased with this additional feature. If I still had my primary blog on TypePad, I certainly would be. Some subscribers won’t be, though – according to the Widgets FAQ, they won’t work if you use advanced templates:

Widgets are supported at Basic, Plus, Pro and Business Class accounts. However, Widgets are not supported on blogs that use Advanced Templates, nor are they supported on Mixed Media layouts.

Still, a terrific initiative from Six Apart.

Then we have WordPress Widgets introduced last month on the WordPress.com hosted blog service (TypePad’s direct competitor). Next, a widgets plugin for the WordPress platform was announced this week. WordPress is a direct competitor of Six Apart’s Movable Type, which doesn’t offer such functionality yet. introduced a sidebar manager when version 3.2 was launched last August.

Plenty of third party developers have created widgets for both platforms. Lots of choice already. And the APIs are freely available so anyone can develop widgets.

What do these moves mean? Well, the obvious one is real ease of use for bloggers when you’re designing and organizing your blog layout. The easier it is, the more likely it will be that you’ll go with a service or platform that makes it easy for you to enable and use such functionality especially if you don’t know how to fiddle with the underlying code or just aren’t interested in doing that.

I’m looking at it mainly from the overall competitive position, though, where such key ease-of-use functionality is a powerful selling point in broadening the reach of your offering, eg, to organizations who are considering using blogs, whether hosted or internally installed. Add cost to that picture, where both WordPress offerings are free with support from the broad user community.

Overall, I’d say that WordPress is out front at the moment.

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