What is a widget?

Hi all!

Widgets are the most talked about web application these days. I am also searching for more information on widgets. I found this informative article written by Tony Bombacino, chief marketing officer of Restaurant.com.

Over the past couple of years, yet another new term has entered the marketer’s vocabulary; that term of course is “widget.” And while many people are already talking about widgets 2.0, many others are just starting to pay attention. Whether you think widgets are the most annoying fad ever or the most innovative trend in interactive online marketing, there is no denying they are part of our industry dialogue. These days, I can’t have a conversation with a publisher, salesman or colleague, read an article or attend a conference where the word and topic is not being debated. Often the debate centers on the mere definition of a widget — not how or when they should be used, or who is leading the way.

Beyond the definition of a widget, what qualifies as a widget is being debated in marketing conference rooms around the world. Depending on the size and focus of your company, and your role within it, you may have debated whether this new “thing” should be called a widget, a gadget, a desktop application, a downloadable application, or some cool new name native to your company.

With that said, let’s take a deeper look at the what, why, when, who and how of widgets. Beyond the definitions I’ve heard, I thought I would first see what Dictionary.com had to say. As I expected, the results were as varied as the debate:

1. Widget [wij-it] — noun — a small mechanical device, as a knob or switch, esp. one whose name is not known or cannot be recalled; gadget: a row of widgets on the instrument panel. 2. In graphical user interfaces, a combination of a graphic symbol and some program code to perform a specific function (e.g. a scroll-bar or button). 3. A device or control that is very useful for a particular job usually provides widget libraries containing commonly used widgets drawn in a certain style and with consistent behavior.

Or what about this simple and more industry-specific definition found at FreeWebs.com — “Widgets are small content features that help make your site personal and unique.”

Some of these definitions are relevant to our everyday businesses, some are not. For the purposes of moving forward, let’s assume that widgets in this article’s context mean everything from Facebook widgets to unique on-site widgets that brands develop to drive engagement, sales and/or ad revenue to more complex downloadable widgets/desktop apps that have multiple functions. In the end, the common thread across all of these widgets is that they all aim to drive some type of customer action (purchase/revenue, brand awareness/engagement, pass-along, etc.).

I am searching more on widgets and I’ll comeback with a detailed study. Till then if you get any more stuff get back with your findings.

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~ by gizmoghost on May 9, 2008.

One Response to “What is a widget?”

  1. Hi my name is Justin Thorp and I’m the Developer Community Manager at Clearspring Technologies (http://clearspring.com), the biggest widget network in the industry.

    One of the biggest issues we’ve found and one of the biggest areas we help out is that you have all these different places you want to put your widget and they all have different specifications for creating a widget. We have a platform that is write once and run everywhere.

    If there is any way that I can help with your widget efforts, don’t hesitate to drop me a line.

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