Widgets: 2008’s glamour word

What is a “Widget”? Wikipedia defines it as portable chunk of code that can be installed and executed within any separate HTML-based web page by an end user without requiring additional compilation and this seems to be the “IT” concept of this year. And it’s no surprise. A couple of years ago, it was blogging, and then podcasting, and just last year probably was the web 2.0 phenomenon, and now it’s create-your-own widgets that has everyone wanting more.

From travel destinations to movie releases, widgets can be everywhere. Perhaps what most people know as widgets can be found on social networking sites like Facebook. And why not? You probably didn’t know it was a widget. Still don’t know what I’m talking about? Those applications that you can find out what your Traveler IQ is or create a better way to write on someone’s wall are considered widgets. So now you know…and there seems to have been an explosion of widget compilers to help share these applications across different platforms and can be quite useful in attracting people towards your brand.

But is developing a widget always helpful for all brands? I would say no. The purpose of developing something just because it’s there. Technology should be used for something specific. If you want to create a widget because everyone else in your industry has one won’t give your audience the right call to action. I encountered this situation at my current job where co-workers have asked for widgets because it’s the “hot new thing”, but me being in the travel & tourism industry, I’m a little hard pressed to think what benefit would there be for this. Would it be good for us to do a Southwest-type desktop widget (“ding!”)? Why would that help spread the word about the company brand? Are we just creating just for the sake of technology? There are a lot of requirements to examine before you undertake this project.
Don’t rush into it.

Widgets may be the buzz word this year, but what will 2009 bring to the table? Who knows, but until then. Get as much as you can before you truly feel that widgets are the way to go.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."