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Photo by teamstickergiant

I try a lot of new widgets and technologies on my blog, to see what they offer and make my website more exciting1. While I can usually appreciate what they are trying to do, I more often than not find that the increased page-load times or disparity with my blog’s look usually compel me to uninstall the thing before too long. And I’m certainly not too attached to a thing to hesitate to uninstall it if it’s messing something up, or has some sort of bug.

This post is about one such widget that’s tenaciously holding on, and the reasons I’m still using it.

The Lijit search widget is a little doohicky you can install (with code or plugin) on to a lot of popular blogging sites with minimal fuss. Like a lot of widgets, Lijit offers multiple configurations and designs and serves a single purpose. In this case, Lijit offers a sort of enhanced, social search. Using Google as a back-bone, Lijit takes over whatever boring backend search you might have and offers more relevant results (using Google’s magic sauce) with some extra special stuff thrown in. The “special stuff” is relevant links and results from any other satellite site you might like to add. For example: I post to Twitter a lot, save links on Delicious, re-share stuff from Google Reader and post photos to Flickr, amongst others. Lijit asks for all the details of the services you use and then includes results from those services as well!

But that’s not all! It also figured out who’s on my blogroll in the side bar there, and includes the people in my network on Delicious2, and can include stuff it finds from them that also might have anything to do with the search. So not only do my visitors get increasingly relevant and useful info (as there certainly isn’t any here), but my friends and associates also get some extra loving! It makes the search so much more productive than looking for keyword matches in a single site’s database.

Enough about the search though! This post was inspired more by the awesome service I have received from the Lijit people, not once, but twice now. While the search is good, I’m a fickle, fickle man and am prone to change things around here without much thought. I somehow (I can’t remember if by choice or mistake) disabled the Lijit search on my site and would probably have never put it back. Except that Jacqueline from Lijit contacted me soon after and very politely enquired if there was a reason I had disabled the product.

Normally that might trigger my stalking alarm, but I pushed my misgivings aside and came over here to turn it back on. When I did I noticed it was misbehaving a bit and told Jacqueline as much. She had someone in their support department look at it straight away and I had an answer in a matter of hours. I’ve been happy with it ever since. It provides detailed analytics of my user’s searches so I can better target what they’re looking for too.

Until yesterday, when out of the blue the plugin started adding extra buttons to the top of my site. I immediately bitched about it on Twitter, then wrote an email to Jacqueline again asking her to look into it (it’s OK, she nicely said I could at any time!). By the time I woke up today, Jaqueline had written back to say she would look into it, and another lovely person called Tara had emailed me to say she saw my complaint on Twitter and already had someone investigating. By the time I had even checked my email it had been fixed.

To me, that is exemplary. I could have used their official support channels (although surprisingly couldn’t find them – they might want to look into that), but instead in both cases took the lazy option to uninstall/bitch about it. In both cases Lijit cared enough about my experience that they’re actively monitoring for mentions of their product, and more importantly acting on them quickly to fix the problems.

So yay to the Lijit support team. I hope your product lives a long a happy life. Keep up the good work, and thank you for a fantastic service! And anyone who’s now interested in trying Lijit out, search for something in the search bar up there. And when you sign up to Lijit, add me to your Lijit network.

  1. I could probably just post more often, but it’s easier to install a widget!
  2. and MyBlogLog, but who uses THAT any more