How to build a widget – Deploying the widget

January 13th, 2009 by Tom Sprows Leave a reply »

[Part 4 in a 5 part series titled “How to build a widget]

The code is written.  The widget is complete.  The idea you started with is neatly contained in the world’s greatest widget.  Now you just have to figure out how to get it to everybody.

Part 4) – Deploying the widget. 

Since widgets are “portable pieces of code”  you have to find a way to give this to all of your future fans.  Easy right?  Since the widget is just normally an HTML or Javascript snippet you can just trust that would be widget users know how to grab the code and embed it on their site.  Not Exactly.

The first step in deploying your widget is creating a web site.  The web site should at the very least allow potential widget owners to know what the widget does and allow then to copy the embed code.  An example of a very simple widget site is the very first widget I developed,  www.JunkIWant.com.   JunkIWant is a Amazon wishlist widget.   No Logins.  Nothing fancy.  Just a website that gives clear instructions on how to grab the widget code.

However, you can’t be certain that just because you supply the HTML/Javascript that a blog owner will know how to grab the code and embed it into their site.   This is where widget galleries and widget dashboards help out.

Widget galleries are sites like www.widgetbox.com and www.widgipedia.com.  These sites allow you to upload your widget and gives widget users an easy interface to grab the widget code.  There is a slight learning curve on uploading your widget, but each site has FAQs and forums to help you along.  The galleries also allow you to track widget installs and some domain specific stats.  They also showcase your widget in various galleries throughout the web.  For instance, www.widgetbox.com partners with many of the larger social sites like Picazo and Bebo. 

The only drawback with  gallery sites is that they take widget users away from your web page.

Widget dashboards are sites that like www.clearspring.com and www.gigya.com.  These sites differ from the gallery sites since they give you a widget dashboard to put on your own site.  The dashboard simplifies the embedding process with a very easy to use interface to grab the widget.  They also provide widget tracking and domain specific stats.  The proccess is pretty simple to add the dashboard to your site (the dashboards are widgets in their own right).  I actually use the www.gigya.com dashboard (Wildfire) on one of my widget sites,  www.MyVGift.com.

clearspring dashboard

clearspring dashboard

Widget galleries and widget dashboard sites greatly enhance the ability to deploy and distribute widgets.  And the best part all of the distribution tools mentioned are free to use.

So knock yourself out.  You spent alot of time on your widget.  You should use every tool available to make it as easy for your potential users to get a hold of your widget.

Next – Part 5 - Promoting the widget.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

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