Widgets - Tools Or Toys?
An overview - what are web widgets?
Widgets are small tools that you can add to your blog or website. They can also decorate the desktop. Each tool performs one or two functions and helps to keep visitors returning to your site by providing special and unique features.
It seems like everywhere you turn these days, you can see marketers talking about widgets. Meanwhile, nobody seems to be able to nail down exactly what a widget is. So let's take a look the five most common places to use these small pieces of code called widgets:
A desktop widget is a small application that runs on your desktop, sometimes accessing the Internet for information, such as a widget that shows the weather. Desktop widgets can provide a large range of uses for your desktop. For example, BBC News can be delivered straight to your desktop. You can add the world's soccer and football stories, news and events via the FIFA World News widget or place on your desktop one of hundreds of calendars. If you love Top Gear, you can add clips and behind-the-scenes video from the show, and if you are pregnant - pregnancy countdown ticker will countdown the days to your due date and show a new image of your baby's development every week. You can choose from hundreds of widgets across the internet.
eBay Auction Watch
eBay Auction Watch lets you bid on, and watch, all your auctions without visiting eBay. Time ticks down in real time and auction details dynamically update so no more reloading.
Sun/moon on your desktop
Simulates the motion of the sun and moon across your desktop, so you can pretend you are enjoying spring outside.
Whether it is your personal website or a business website, widgets can provide value added information, interactivity or just add a little fun to your site. Such value-added widgets include currency converters, clocks or calculators. Widgets that enhance your website with photo sharing, commerce, weather, news and even games. Google has prepared widgets for most of their solutions:, e.g. search, maps, calendars, email. The Wikipedia widget gives your audience the chance to clarify anything they aren't sure about. Web widgets are a great opportunity to help you to engage with your audience.
Widgets can give your blog a personalised feel or provide advanced utility for your readers. A common example of a widget on a blog are Feedburner that helps people to sign up for your RSS feed, Flickr.com and slide.com - slideshow widgets that enable you to embed your photographs on your blogs. YouTube also provides a widget, allowing you to make a playlist of your favourite videos. If you try to quit smoking the 'stop smoking widget' has some facts about smoking and some useful tips for quitting this habit - and if you place this widget on your blog you can help other people quit smoking. A lot of widgets use humor as a way to entice people to embed them on their blogs or social networks.
When you're writing a blog, all you have to do is go to one of the websites offering widgets (there is a full list at the bottom of this page), pick out a useful widget, and copy it to your website. Remember, widgets can bring life to your blog.
Social Networking Profiles
You can use widgets on a Social Network to tell more about yourself. For example, one of the most popular widgets on Facebook, is the 'Top Friends' tool, which allows people to go to their best friends' profiles with a single click. There are already hundreds of widgets that are available for immediate use.
Personalized Start Pages
Widgets can also add productivity and/or fun to your start page. See igoogle.com where you can receive the headlines from your favorite blog or news source.
Where can I find widgets?
If you've been inspired to put some widgets to use, you might want to visit:
• Google Widgets
• Yahoo Widgets
• Good Widgets
Can I Still Use a Web Widget if I Don't Know Anything About Programming?
Yes you can. This is one of the great advantages of using widgets - you don't need to know how to program to use them. Installing a web widget on your site is a simple matter of copying the code and pasting it into the appropriate place on your site. Most sources have walk-throughs that allow you to choose how you want the widget to look and act, and then create the code for you.
As demonstrated above, widgets come in all shapes and forms, and we can all rest assured that widgets will continue to evolve and develop. We hope we have managed to demonstrate to you that web widgets can indeed be - in the right hands - good friends in enhancing and providing extra value to your web presence.
If you need any help with improving your website, do not hesitate to contact us.