Web content has an astonishing degree of flexibility these days. The ability to use widgets solves the developer’s puzzle: you no longer need to code complicated scripts to launch rich content on the web. The ability to embed information you have on the web at other places online quickly and easily makes this an exciting time for web communicators.
When you leverage offsite content via your website, you gain the benefits of “sharing” your content across the Internet:
- Your content isn’t trapped on your site
- When new eyeballs find you via these other sites, referer traffic can grow
When you understand the universe of what’s available you are one step closer to visualizing the site you want to build.
To begin, you must select the tools you want to deploy on your site. Be selective and choose tools that add value. Then you must create the content elsewhere and use the widget code to drop it into your site so it lives in both places. Remember: when you are LIVE you must keep up your website presence. Don’t set it and forget it or your website will grow stale.
A directory of many of my favorites are below. This list is organized into key task categories. A typical business website might have six widget types beyond your classic Twitter of Facebook feed:
- A Map
- Video clips
- Sharing or AddThis
- Comment form
If you are building your site in WordPress — and one in five sites today are WordPress sites — you’ll be looking for these widgets in their plugin directory. Just search on the name at the WordPress plugin directory to see if there is an equivalent match there. For the most part, this list is platform neutral and references HTML code that can be dropped into any site…including WordPress.
It used to take a room full of custom code-slingers to produce the feature you wanted. Now, free plug-ins listed on this page do all the heavy-lifting for you, greatly simplifying the build-out of your site and putting content publishers – not engineers — in the driver’s seat.
WEBSITE WIDGETS: OUR FAVORITES
- Audio and Music
- Publishing PPTs and PDFs
- Surveys and Ratings
AUDIO AND MUSIC
- Audacity. Free software to record and mix audio and convert it to MP3 format from your desktop. After you have your song, use an MP3 player to stream the music on your site.
- MP3 Player. This is a free open source and fully customizable widget for your website.
- (Update) Spotify. This music streaming and sharing service now offers a web player widget for your website.
- (Update) Pandora. This music streaming service lets you decide what artist or song you like and it creates playlists on the fly that are like that music. Now with a web widget too.
- Google Calendar. The embed feature allows you to post your calendar online so you can easily share your calendar with others, and pull in other public calendars to help you de-conflict schedules. A mobile version is available for your PDA.
- 30 Boxes Calendar. This calendar offers the same functionality as Google, with a full-screen look. It permits import and export, mobility, to-do list, SMS messaging and more.
- LinkedIn. Facebook for Adults.
- Form Logix. Easily design your own web forms and publish on the web. The free version includes advertising and the low-cost version is free. Capture content of those who write you with the form in a database that you can download to Excel or administer online. Receive immediate notice of new form queries to any email address.
- ZOHO Creator. Use a free Web form builder allows anyone to easily build web forms that suit their needs. This is one piece of a robust suite of ZOHO productivity tools.
- Flickr. Flickr makes it easy to share your photos online and includes an embed feature with all the photos you post to their service.
- Wordle. Create a beautiful word-cloud image.
- Add-This. One button – completely free – lets you spread your content across the web using the most popular bookmarking and sharing tools around.
- Del.icio.us. This gadget lets you move your bookmarks from your browser to the web, so they aren’t trapped online and are easily accessible to you from any computer in the world. Functionality includes RSS feeds and communities so you can see what others are bookmarking and discover new sites.
- Map Builder. Tag your location and publish a personal map to your own website.
- GoogleMaps. Helps people find your location and get directions.
PUBLISHING PPTS AND PDFS
- Slideshare. Post PowerPoint slides. A popular site for conference materials. Tagging promotes easy searches. Tool to add audio turns your slideshow into a slidecast.
- Scribd. Publish and search PDFs.
SURVEYS AND RATINGS
- Polldaddy. This lightweight widget lets you poll your web visitors and enables you to see the vote totals immediately.
- Disqus. This online tool allows you to insert a star rating system below your web content to get reader feedback. You can also enable comments.
- Intense Debate. Another popular online tool that focuses on comments.
- Google Translate. Translate your site into multiple languages. Know that the quality of the automated translations may be criticized.
- Bing Translation Widget. The same service is available via Microsoft. Machine translation is always subject to quality issues you cannot control.
- YouTube. Upload and share videos. When you have your own channel you can enable a feature to post a custom viewer that features only your videos.
- Screencast-o-matic. This service lets you record action on your desktop. Useful for help desk support and tutorials for using online services.
- Freescreencast. Record how a website works right from your desktop. Host it on their website or embed it on your own.
- Jing. Select an area of your screen, capture it as an image or record it as a video, and then click Share to send an email, IM or get the code to post on your site. Control access and ownership of your content. 200MB of free storage.
- Weather Widget. From the Weather Channel – Put your local weather forecast on your site.
(Last Updated: May, 2016)