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10 Things to Consider When Building Widgets

Here is a list of 10 things to consider when building widgets. The items are not in any particular order (hence no numbering) and it does not necessarily mean you have to meet each item. However, we do believe that each item should be considered and conscious decisions should be made regarding each point. Each widget, project and company has its own set of requirements and time lines, so as long as though was put into the process, a widget can meet your goal without delivering on every element listed.

  • Compelling content for reader and publisher

    If the content is not interesting for anyone, then why would anyone bother to use or spread it? It’s not just about RSS feeds and cute badges, the possibilities are endless.

  • Remember it’s a three way relationship; engage the reader, benefit the publisher and brand yourself

    Many forget that this is a complex relationship. Not only do you have to brand yourself through the widget, but you also have to give a reason for a publisher to use the widget. Are they getting cool content, new features or something unique? What do the readers get out of this?

  • Customizations, the more the better

    Beyond branding for yourself, keep in mind that widgets live outside your domain. This means that the more customizations available the more seamless publishers can integrate the widget with their own site, brand and design. Whether it be size, color or headers, flexibility is the key.

  • Distribution mechanism, embeddable everywhere

    Why limit your audience? As technology barriers are lowered, more and more people become potential “publishers.” This can be anyone with a profile page, blog or full fledge site.

  • Internalize functions, keep as much in the widget as possible

    While your brand, product and site are important, so is the publisher’s. It’s a fine line and a balancing act, but if you can strike a mutually beneficial feature set that is able to keep the readers attached to the publisher while driving traffic home as needed, then you have a potentially successful widget.

  • Remote updates

    The ability to update widgets in the wild remotely is important. Widgets must be able to evolve as conditions change and if you are not able to push updates remotely, you risk hurting your brand with outdated or broken widgets.

  • Performance

    Everyone is vying for everyone’s time. The web is no exception. The widget must perform without delay for both the reader and the publisher. The reader will not wait for content and the publisher will not tolerate a widget that bogs down their entire page.

  • Tracking and analytics

    You do know where your widgets are and how they’re doing, right?

  • Business and marketing goals

    What was the purpose for the widget? If you didn’t know that to begin with, how can you start to measure the usefulness or success of the widget? Or, even build a widget in the first place…

  • Lastly, don’t forget about the users

    We mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth stating again. Don’t forget about the users. In this case, the user is anyone that will have anything to do with the widget, publishers and readers.

Categories: Widgets Tags: ,
  1. July 18th, 2007 at 05:55 | #1

    Seems like great minds think alike…good post!

  2. July 18th, 2007 at 07:28 | #2

    Derek, noticed your post yesterday too… ;)

  3. August 8th, 2007 at 06:21 | #3

    Nice post, I linked it and a few others to try to help out our platform developers. Keep it up!

    http://www.clearspring.com/docs/blog/archive/2007/08/08/widget-best-practices

  4. August 8th, 2007 at 08:10 | #4

    Thanks for the mention…

  5. Nancy
    October 22nd, 2007 at 14:38 | #5

    I have an idea for a widget – but have no idea how to build it… is there a spot to go to find a developer that would be interested in a partnership?

  6. October 22nd, 2007 at 15:23 | #6

    Hi Nancy,

    It all depends on what level of development you need, what platform it’s for and what type of partnership you would like.

    We do some development work and know others we can refer, so if you like, you can email us.

    If you have some specific platforms you are targeting then there are forums, Facebook developer forum or clearspring.com forum for example.

  1. November 24th, 2007 at 00:11 | #1
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