Using Widgets on Your Website

WidgetsWeb widgets – little pieces of code, often JavaScipt – can add a lot of fun features to your website. Widgets come in all sizes and shapes; sports widgets showing the latest scores and standings, weather widgets with accurate forecasts, widgets that connect to social networks like Facebook, the list goes on. You can find them all over the web. Nearly every major content provider offers widgets that allow you to show their content on your website automatically.

Sometimes a widget can really add useful information and functionality to your website. For example of you have a physical store, a routeplanner widget will help website visitors find your store’s location. If you organize travel trips around sports events, a widget showing the upcoming fixtures will save you the trouble of maintaining this information yourself.

But often widgets are detrimental to the quality of your website. Widgets, especially when used in abundance, tend to make your site look amateurish and cobbled-together. Be wary of this when you see a cool widget and decide it would look awesome on your own website.

Widgets should be used sparingly and only when they add genuine value to your website experience. Don’t just put widgets on your website for the sake of it. For every widget ask yourself if it’s just something you think is cool, or if a user can really benefit from its functionality.

And most importantly a widget need to be relevant to your website. Showing weather forecasts is pretty useless if your website is about providing interim management. However for a website about day trips, a local weather forecast in the day trip area could be handy – though if the weather there is consistently bad, it might actually hurt your business.

In short, if you want to use widgets on your website, do so with caution and awareness.

Content, Technical

Comments

  1. Barry,

    This is an informative post. Web sites like widgetbox.com have an unbelievable array of widgets. (Many of the ones I looked at were of zero interest. But there must be a market out there for widgets, if so many are being created…)

    Do you have particular widgets that you would recommend, or have found useful?

    On the flip side, can you comment on some of the worst offenders for useless / loud / noisy widgets?

    Thanks for the post.

    Bolaji.

  2. Hi Bolaji. Being more of a minimalist when it comes to web design, I tend to stay away from widgets on my own websites. My personal blog uses a few widgets, most notably the Flickr widget that shows a selection of my most recent photos.

    Which widgets add value to your site and which don’t depends on many different factors. Travel sites and weather widgets seems like a good match, but if used in the wrong way it can distract from your own content and derail a potential customer’s web visit.

    My best advice would be to look at other websites, copy what you like and don’t copy what you dislike. And when in doubt, don’t. As I stated, web widgets should be used sparingly, so better to err on the side of caution than abundance.

  3. It is interesting to learn some facts. I am trying to get some qualified information about how to make websites profitable and some 347.000 websites pop up on Google. How difficult it must be to get a ranking among the first 12. Being fairly new in this business area I have faced the fact that it takes a long time to get the basics into your bloodstream but it is highly interesting and I have learned more when visiting your site. I admire the frank way of “speaking” and I am also impressed by the presentation of facts, so a big hand from me.

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