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Web Widgets Talk @ RefreshDC, Sep 2007
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Web Widgets Talk @ RefreshDC, Sep 2007

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A talk at a RefreshDC event (great series) in September 2007.

A talk at a RefreshDC event (great series) in September 2007.

Published in: Technology, Design

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  • Hi there! I work at a software company called Clearspring. I’m going to keep it light on Clearspring content and focus more generally on widgets, in the spirit of open community discussion - If you want a sales pitch or a demo, see us and we’ll oblige ;-)
  • Transcript

    • 1. Web Widgets: What, Why, and How Will Meyer 9.20.07
    • 2. Why Are We Here? (Right now, anyway)
      • What are widgets, anyway?
      • Why do I care?
      • How do I make them?
      • Some show and tell
    • 3. The Changing Face of the Web Decentralization is the name of the game
      • Content comes to you
      • Personalized experiences
      • “Micro-chunks”
      • The Web is a Platform for Services
      From Web 1.0 To Web 2.0 [ sic ]
      • Users visit websites
      • One size fits all
      • Portals dominate
      • The Web is a Publication Platform
      BROWSE MSN, Yahoo SEARCH Live Search Google SHARE Blogosphere Myspace Facebook
    • 4. Web Widgets: What are They? (besides a buzzword)
      • widget [wij-it] (noun) -
      • Portable web component that can be executed across multiple platforms without requiring additional compilation
      • Web widgets are:
        • Mini web apps placed inside other web apps
        • Used in blogs, on social networks, or anywhere
        • Shared between users and moved between locations
        • Simple now, but getting more advanced
      Widget is a category, rather than a specific technical definition
    • 5. Common Widget Types Where widgets live, and what they look like
      • Blog bling
        • e.g. Charlie O’Donnell ’s or Fred Wilson ’s blogs
      • Personal expression on Social Networks
        • e.g. Any Facebook or MySpace page (exercise for the reader)
      • Start Page utilities
        • e.g. Netvibes modules
      • If its small, fast, and viral, as many potential widget ideas as you can think of…
    • 6. What Can You Do With a Widget ? A mini website with viral distribution
      • Extend an existing web site’s capabilities
      • Promote branding or information
      • Express personal tastes and interests
      • Share anything and everything
      • Innovate totally new applications
    • 7. Why? What are widgets good for?
      • Increase distribution of your app or content
      • Drive traffic to your site (orders of magnitude inc)
      • Put a user face on web services and RSS
      • Let users personalize their web experience
      Widgets are fundamental to a distributed web strategy
    • 8. The Widgetsphere It’s everywhere, and it reaches billions worldwide
    • 9. More Show & Tell
      • The ubiquitous RSS-based Widget
        • e.g. http://www. clearspring .com/blog/2007/08/08/grab-buttons-and-gossip/
      • Some more dynamic stuff
        • Feel-goodness from They’re Beautiful ( www.theyrebeautiful.com )
          • e.g. http://bitesizetech.blogspot.com/2007/07/they-are-beautiful-coglets.html
        • Distributed ratings from RateItAll ( rateitall.com )
          • e.g. http://www.sexywidget.com/my_weblog/2007/04/new_rateitall_w.html
        • Blogosphere tracking from MyBlogLog ( www.mybloglog.com )
          • e.g http://www. clearspring .com/blog/2007/09/03/bridging-the-facebook-widget-gap/
        • Event scheduling from Attendio ( www.attendio.com )
          • e.g. http://www.attendio.com/widgets/beyonce
        • Music tastes from Apple ( www.apple.com )
          • e.g. http://www.apple. com/itunes/myitunes/
        • Iraq strategy updates from Washington Post ( washingtonpost .com )
          • e.g. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/widgets/
        • Slideshows from Anomito ( animoto .com )
          • E.g. http: //lovnyterrestre . vox . com/library/post/animoto-le-diaporama-killer-app .html
    • 10. So What’s Really New Here? Some things that make widgets (slightly) challenging
      • The standard product lifecycle is all there
      • Technology choices
        • Flash, Javascript, static web, etc.
        • Standards limited
        • “ Write once, run anywhere” is a challenge
      • Measuring effectiveness
      • Figuring out what to widgetize
    • 11. Design & Build Lots of different options
      • Sizing
        • Sidebars vs. start pages vs. social networks
      • Technologies
        • Flash (social networks)
        • Javascript (some blogs/start pages)
      • Features
        • Dynamic data loading
        • Viral services
      • Platform services (build vs. buy)
        • Embed generation
        • Configuration management
        • Cross-domain services
        • Destination abstraction
      • Managing load
    • 12. Distribution and Seeding Many options and growing…
      • Your/affiliate site
        • Effective, “live” placement
      • Pre-seeding micro-sites
        • Social Networks, blogs, etc.
      • Leveraging Widget Galleries
        • Google, etc.
      • BD frontal assaults
      • Viral distribution
        • Transform users into your engine
        • Requires “Send-to” features
    • 13. Tracking & Analytics Page views are going. So what matters?
      • Audience
        • Views
        • Domains
        • Geographic distribution
        • Configuration
      • Engagement
        • User events
      • Endorsement
        • Audience reception
        • Page location
        • Adoption path
        • Velocity
    • 14. Destination Compatibility All destinations are not created equal
      • Latest at http://www.clearspring.com/docs/tech/widget-dev/drop-targets
    • 15. Additional Topics
      • Where do you have questions?
      • Widgets &:
        • Facebook
        • Advertising
        • Standards & Directions
        • Open social networking
        • Widget platforms (like Clearspring)
        • Best practices
      • More?
    • 16. Technology Directions What’s going on in the space
      • Limited standards support
        • Some efforts in W3C , desktop-focused
        • Some vendor initiatives (Netvibes’ (non-universal) Universal Widget Architecture )
        • No Microformat yet ( proposals made)
      • “ Open Social Networking” concept
        • Rich apps that would run across networks
      • Proprietary innovation occurring
        • Inter-widget communication
          • Widgets can (minimally) share stuff in iGoogle
        • Offline data storage
        • Widget “manifests”
          • Search engines, browser plugins, etc can find widgets
      • Market consolidation will likely unify some of this
    • 17. Widgets and Facebook Is a FB app a widget? Do FB apps replace widgets?
      • Facebook applications consist of:
        • A semi-dynamic component on your profile page
        • Almost-standard pages accessible from your sidebar, hosted by the developer
      • Widgets can be turned into Facebook apps
        • Variety of tools (including Clearspring’s )
        • Viral spread both within and, better, in and out of Facebook
      • Facebook native apps cannot currently be pulled out of Facebook
    • 18. Open Social Networking The brave new (purely theoretical) world
      • Movement to allow better portability of data and apps between social networks
        • I don’t want 15 different lists of friends! (and more)
        • Even a “Bill of Rights”: opensocialweb.org
      • API abstraction layers and standards like OpenID
      • Second-tier networks behind it
        • They want a share of the Facebook ecosystem
      • Still mostly lip-service
      • Remember folks, these things go in cycles
        • The Future of the Web = Facebook?
        • Not really -- other networks are opening up quickly
    • 19. Widgets and Advertising Yes, it’s happening
      • Natural extension for making money
        • Widgets as ads
        • Ads in widgets (pre-roll, etc.)
        • Widgets as cross-promotion tools
        • Limitations by destination (no linkouts on MySpace)
      • Cross-promotion is a key area
        • e.g. RockYou, Slide, SocialMedia and more promoting other apps from within their own
        • Takes more than a few successful apps to play out
    • 20. Widget Platforms Infrastructure and tooling to power your widgets
      • Make certain services readily available
        • Viral sharing
        • Configuration management
      • Make your widget portable
        • Handle the differences between various destinations
      • Measure your widget’s success (track it)
      • Make your widget smarter
        • Geo, virality, more
      • Get your widget distributed
        • Gallery publication
        • Cross-promotion
    • 21. Clearspring: WTF?
      • World-class widget platform
        • Fastest, most scalable back-end
        • Most robust analytics
        • Comprehensive and robust viral services
        • Richest in-widget services
      • Services capabilities
        • Widget development
        • Widget strategy
      • Your partner for a successful widget strategy
        • We power the biggest brands, and love everyone else, too
    • 22. Some Important Best Practices Avoid some common pitfalls
      • Keep the content dynamic, or make it an application
        • First attempts are often stale, and “the people” don’t like that
      • Pay attention to media management
        • Auto-playing annoys people (on hover is often cool)
        • Stream MP3 and other content, never wait
      • Making a widget for a blog is cool, but not that cool
        • It’s not just about RSS
      • Thoroughly test it
        • New use cases, off-domain issues, etc
      • Virality is powerful -- design it to be shared, and have the capabilities built-in
      • Have a real seeding strategy
        • Placement on your own site (avoid it looking like an ad, or like just a piece of the page)
        • Leverage galleries
      • Track it!
        • You need to pay attention to what’s happening, especially viral spread
    • 23. Some other Resources
      • Best practices
        • A few links here on Clearspring’s site
      • Dev resources
        • All of the major destinations have API docs (search)
        • Cearspring has a list of helpful resources: http://www. clearspring .com/docs/tech/widget-dev/web-resources
      • Widget Boggers
        • See the Bogroll at http://www. clearspring . com/blog
      • Clearspring
        • http://www.clearspring.com/docs/faq
        • http://www. clearspring .com/developers
    • 24. Fin
      • Thanks!
      • [email_address]
    • 25. Fun for the whole family* http://widgetdevcamp-dc.org * depends on family

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