Why You Should Develop an Online Widget

You have probably heard the term Widget used more and more these days.  There’s no question their popularity is increasing.  Are you still left wondering what a widget is or why you should jump on the widget bandwagon?
A widget is a small web application that can be easily installed on any HTML based web page.  Widgets are often presented as add-on tools such as calendars, news readers or tickers and generally use information databases found across the Internet.  These applications are most commonly developed in JavaScript or Adobe Flash.  However, a wide range of technologies such as RSS, iframe, videos and HTML may be utilised in their creation.

When used properly, widgets can be a powerful way to market your business.  If users find your widget interesting, not only will they add it to their site, they will forward it to their friends.  A popular widget can find itself on numerous sites in a relatively short amount of time.  Of course, not only will this widget provide a function, it will ultimately direct users back to your website, increasing your traffic.  Businesses that have seen their widgets turn viral have certainly reaped rewards.

Widgets are generally inexpensive to create with your primary costs being the man hours needed to develop the application.  Should you choose to have the widget access your system either to provide content or report on usage, there may be additional costs for server space or bandwidth.  Since these costs have dropped dramatically over the last few years, it is generally preferable to capture some information about who is using your widget.  This data can be used for trending and can give you a better understanding of who is interested in your product or service.

If you are considering creating a widget, there are few things to keep in mind.  First and foremost, your widget must be something users find both useful and interesting.  For your widget to achieve viral status, it must be easy to share.  Include features that allow users to share it with friends or to add it to their own site.  Users love personalization, so try to include options for changing the style or content.  Since your goal is to direct traffic back to your website, ensure your site has an appropriate landing page where traffic will be directed.  Finally, don’t forget search engine optimisation.  If you are using videos, flash or other non-text mediums, add some text in the links so that search engines can index it.