Understanding Widgets

At a recent Mixergy tech event, Alex Funk of digital-telepathy told me that he’s amazed that some companies don’t have a widget strategy. He’s been giving presentations about how companies can use widgets to grow, and some people don’t even know what a widget is, let alone how to create one for their users.

I got on the phone with him and asked him to teach me so I could blog about it. You can download a recording of our call below, but below are my notes.

Alex Funk

Alex Funk


Alex Funk is the Strategic Marketing Manager of digital-telepathy. They help companies design better products and branded user experiences.

A few lessons from this program

A widget is anything that can be taken off of a web site and run somewhere else.

There are 3 kids of widgets:

  • Self-expression widgets – enable people to show off who they are and what they’re passionate about. A good example is a flickr widget that lets people post their pictures.
  • Enhancement widgets – add functionality to a web site. Guestbook widgets are a popular example.

5 things we need to know about creating widgets:
1) You have to understand your customer – Southwest was able to get people to download and install Ding! a widget that does nothing but sell tickets because they knew their customers will go out of their way to find good deals.

2) Focus on just one thing – Think about how the YouTube video widget only lets you view video. You can’t upload videos. You can’t comment on videos. You can only do one thing. It’s tempting to add more features, but widgets need to be kept simple so users can figure them out instantly.

3) You don’t have to make your own – Alex suggests using Clearspring and/or Widgetbox to develop your widgets. They have the tools to make widget creation easy.

4) Everything will be widgetized – No matter what you’re working on, Alex says you can find a way to let others take it off your domain and put it anywhere they want. In the future, everything will be widgetized

5) Go cross-platform – Don’t limit your distribution. You should think about ways to let people interact with your product on other web sites, on different computer platforms (Mac/Windows/anything), on mobile phones, and anywhere else.

Who should we feature on Mixergy? Let us know who you think would make a great interviewee.