It’s difficult not to get consumed and indeed enthralled in all things widgety with an event like the inaugural Widgety Goodness that was hosted yesterday.
Brighton’s Corn Exchange welcomed a range of digital agencies (both large and small), new media consultants, widget developers and intermediaries to present, listen and participate in discussions of Google’s Open Social, widget development and syndication and I would be surprised if anyone left uninspired.
Steve Bowbrick described an evolution of widgets, their uses and the internet as whole – and it’s one he termed the “Darwinian Disco” – but does this evolution ultimately mean something will die?
From my experience both within Leapfrogg and in the affiliate marketing industry prior to joining the company I experienced this evolution as a publisher and the continual challenge of driving conversions. It was never enough just to include vertical banners within a webpage, and it is not enough for a company director to say, “We need a viral” or “We need a widget”.
Simon Andrews provided the above image in his presentation, which I think, really speaks volumes.
Perhaps websites, as the existing destinations we know and love will be replaced by personal – widgetized – start pages including iGoogle, Netvibes and PageFlakes, adorned by all manner of widgets from news, product and video feeds.
But of course the future in unforeseen – however isn’t it better to try something out, to experiment, to take a gamble (which, when considering the cost of developing widgets can be a low cost gamble) to make a mistake and learn from it?
Conversely, and of course this is open to discussion, I believe widgets aren’t for everyone – both in terms of budget, business model and business objectives – but they still can represent an excellent tool, for some businesses, in increasing or complimenting their brand awareness if executed and syndicated effectively.
STA Travel Tools, from STA travel (the largest supplier of student and youth travel) are just one example of an inspirational deployment of widgets (call them gadgets or applications if you so wish) which include ‘travel to do lists’, ‘Weather comparison’ tools and ‘travel offer’ widgets that users can integrated into their personal pages, blogs, Facebook/ Myspace profiles or download onto their PC or Mac desktop.
With each widget branded with the STA colour scheme and logo, the company have added value to their business by offering something useful for the user, who in turn, by embedding these widgets, are advocating the brand through their social spaces. In the era of social media and the power of social recommendations would you not agree that a recommendation from a friend carried far more weighting than a recommendation from a marketer?
But again, lets not rush into this…. Creating a widget isn’t just about throwing something up and should be proactive and not reactive.
One factor that was continually impressed yesterday was that of ‘user centricity’, the recognition and full understanding of your target user or customer and it is a point which I firmly believe is key to any strategic decision, not least when thinking about integrating widgets into your online marketing campaign(s).
If you, as a developer or marketing strategist do not recognise and fully understand your users but simply create an application with the ‘hope’ it will go viral, then you are fundamental failing. Don’t forget the importance of content and context – of which STA travel tools provide excellent and relevant examples. The Widget Success Factors – raised in Steve Touhill’s presentation are also work consideration in adding the most value and maximising the return from a widget.
But again, as with previous ‘diary of a link builder posts’, I feel a good point of conclusion would be to quote the late Malcolm Muggeridge and it is a quote I feel the Widgety Goodness delegates, sponsors and speakers would be fully behind and that is to:
“Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream”….
To find out more about Widget and all things Widgety be sure to check out the following sources:
And of course: http://widgetygoodness.com/
On another note, I’ve posted a few photographs of the conference on the Leapfrogg Flickr account and I’d welcome any annotations or comments if I have missed out anybody’s name or website.