Many people have been complaining about slow loading social widgets. You know the ones! I’ve written a WordPress plugin which may help, but there are some issues related to it and I’d like some advice. I have some specific people in mind, so I’ll ping them below.
UP TO DATE INFORMATION ABOUT THE CURRENT STATUS OF THIS PLUGIN CAN BE FOUND AT THE IFRAMEWIDGETS PLUGIN HOME PAGE
What Does The Plugin Do?
The plugin creates IFrame widgets for WordPress. They are similar to Text Widgets, except output is created in an IFrame (in the sidebar). So, placing social widget code in an IFrame widget means it will appear in an IFrame.
The benefit of placing social widgets in an IFrame is that IFrames load in parallel to the rest of the page. If the social widget loads slowly or hangs, it won’t prevent the rest of the page from loading.
In addition to this, the plugin provides other features / benefits, including:
- Widgets remain hidden until they are completely loaded, then appear in whole. If they don’t load, they won’t take up any space on your sidebar.
- Up to 9 IFrame widgets can be enabled, but you don’t have to use them for all your social widgets, just the ones you are having issues with.
- Should work for any external widget, not just social widgets.
- Caters for the BUMPzee widget php code (other php code won’t work).
Want to see it in action? You can, right here on my site. The BUMPzee, MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog widgets are all running in IFrame Widgets. Sounds great right? But there are some problems / issues.
Issues With Social Widgets In An IFrame
The following are some problems / issues with this approach:
- Social widgets need to tell their website who has been to your site. If they do this through cookies, there should be no problem. I can now confirm that BUMPzee, MyBlogLog & BlogCatalog widgets all work fine.
- The social sites may not like people running the widgets in IFrames. I hadn’t considered this until I read Lucia’s post about Blogrush being unhappy with their widget being placed in the footer.
- IFrames are not great for either SEO or accessibility. This should not be an issue, as we are dealing with external widgets rather than content. It may even help preserve PageRank as the search bots may not follow the links. Can any experts out there confirm this? And how will this impact on point 3 above?
I’d like some feedback on the above issues from anyone willing to leave a comment. In particular, there are some experts I’d like to hear from. I’m shooting pretty high, but I’ll ping them and see if they respond:
First up is Scott Jangro, BUMPzee creator. Scott, if you read this I’d love some feedback from the BUMPzee’s perspective, especially on points 1 and 3.
Next is Andy Beard, who is an expert in… well pretty much all of this. Andy, I know you’ll probably say that themes need to be designed correctly (ie sidebars before content), but I’m very interested in your views.
Third is John Reese. John, I’d be grateful for your thoughts on point 3. Would you be concerned by the Blogrush widget being in an IFrame (if it was placed higher on the page, which is your main concern about it being in the footer)?
I’d also like to hear from the following people who have had widget issues:
and anyone else with an opinion on this!
The Final Word
I’d really like feedback on this. I’ll probably release the plugin regardless, as it’s already written and I think it will have some use. However whether I push the social widget angle depends on your feedback (and whether I can solve the links opening in the IFrame issue).