What Is a Website Widget?


 06/04/2015 12:00 AM

"Widget" is one of those buzz words, like "app" or "cloud", that get tossed around a lot in conversations about the modern internet. But did you know that widgets are an easy way to transform your own website, even if you know very little about web design? These accessible, versatile, built-in features allow you to personalize your website like never before. You can even install widgets that let you borrow software and live codes from other pages and developers, such as review and point-of-sale websites.

What can widgets do for your business?

Do you have a restaurant, retail store, or other business that relies heavily on customer satisfaction? Review websites have made modern commerce more democratic than ever, and a good review can be more valuable than paid advertisements. Review widgets make it easier for your customers to leave feedback and view impressive excerpts and rankings. Other widgets offer features that refresh in real time, such as countdown clocks and social media updates. This is an interactive and effective way to get your target audience excited about upcoming events, deals, and news.

Why should you choose HTML5 widgets?

Flexible templates allow you to incorporate a variety of widgets, but you often have to find and download them yourself, and you're also responsible for making sure they're compatible across multiple platforms. Until recently, most widgets operated in Flash, but that compromised compatibility with devices that couldn't download Adobe software. Instead, HTML5 widgets incorporate more universal coding, and don't differentiate between your website and widget content as much. Even search engines will be able to crawl HTML5 widgets.

What are the most popular widgets, and how do they work?

Widgets are plug-in features that can be added to most layouts, but the allocated space is controlled by the company that created it. If a widget is particularly customizable - for example, scrolling updates from your personal blog - you control the content via other websites, and set preferences for how the widget will look to readers. Some of the most common website widget functions include:

  • Social media integration - for example YouTube channel updates, Twitter status, buttons to "follow" pages and Facebook like button and more
  • Search tool - works by crawling your website for key words
  • Video embedding - good way to avoid hosting big video files
  • Advertisements - you can sell permission to advertise within certain parts of your website
  • Navigation - directions and maps to your location
  • PayPal and point-of-sale systems - enables financial transactions with added privacy

When you add these widgets to your website, usually in a sidebar or navigation area, you integrate coding from a separate website and adjust the settings to display content relevant to your business or blog. This can get overwhelming if you install too many of them, but in many ways it's a smart idea to let professional services handle secure data like your social media passwords and your customers' credit card information. Don't try to take on too much of the web design yourself; instead, incorporate a few useful and convenient widgets.

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