Web Widgets

Today’s Tuesday Tip is about web widgets!

What’s a web widget? Wikipedia defines a web widget as “a 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.” In other words, you will get some computer code that you will need to add to your website or social networking page, so you do need a little bit of technical expertise to know how to do this.

You may already have web widgets on your site without even knowing it. Banner advertising or site meters are some of the most common web widgets available. If you’ve uploaded a video to Youtube or another video hosting service, the code that you place on your site or Myspace page is a web widget.

What’s the benefit of web widgets? They allow you to place useful information on your site, collect information to assist you and offer others the ability to spread the word about your website and books.

Check out the cool countdown widget I created for FURY CALLS, the next book in THE CALLING Vampire series which will be out in March 2009. You can click here to download the code for the widget and post it on your sites/Myspace pages! Send me a screen print of it once it’s on your site or a link to the site with the widget and I’ll send the first 50 people who do so a CALLING t-shirt!

Get this widget!

Here are some more useful web widgets:

Site meters: Site meters help you keep track of how many people are visiting your website, where they are coming from, how much time they spend on your site, etc. Such site meters help you track the efficacy of what you are doing on your blog or website. How? If you run a contest, the site meter can tell you if you had more visitors on the day you ran a contest. One of the easier site meters to install can be found at www.sitemeter.com.

Site/Blog Sharing: If you have more than one website or social network page and wish to share information from one site on the others, a web widget is a great way to do so. For example, my main blog is at www.caridad.com/blog, but I want to share those blog posts at my website for THE CALLING Vampire novels (www.thecallingvampirenovels.com). I created a web widget that would create a list of recent blog posts on my other sites at www.widgetbox.com. Using the code that I generated at widgetbox, I loaded it on all my sites so that visitors could see my blog posts and then link back to my main site. At Widgetbox, you can also obtain web widgets in order to provide information at your site to your visitors. For example, if you’re a Mets fan, you can load up a widget that will keep your visitors posted about what’s happening with the Mets (http://www.widgetbox.com/search?q=mets).

Dictionary: Want a dictionary at your fingertips? Visit freedictionary.com (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/lookup.htm#searchbox) to add a dictionary to your site. Or use this dictionary widget from the Yahoo widget collection: http://widgets.yahoo.com/widgets/dictionary.

Clock: Want to tell users what time it is? Check out some of these clock widgets: http://widgets.yahoo.com/widgets/digital-clock, http://www.springwidgets.com/widgets/view/25, http://www.clocklink.com/

Translator: Want to allow visitors who do not speak English to read your site? Babelfish is a great translator and has a widget so users can translate your site. Pick up the widget here: http://babelfish.yahoo.com/free_trans_service

All of the above widgets help you and your website visitors and even better, they are all free. However, you do need to be careful when loading code that has been provided to you by third parties. Sometimes widgets can contain spyware or malware that will create problems, so be sure to only use widgets from reliable sources.

Hope you’ll try out some of these web widgets to add some content to your website!