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



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

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



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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 ;-)

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

  • Web Widgets: What, Why, and How Will Meyer 9.20.07
  • Why Are We Here? (Right now, anyway)
    • What are widgets, anyway?
    • Why do I care?
    • How do I make them?
    • Some show and tell
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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…
  • 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
  • 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
  • The Widgetsphere It’s everywhere, and it reaches billions worldwide
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Destination Compatibility All destinations are not created equal
    • Latest at http://www.clearspring.com/docs/tech/widget-dev/drop-targets
  • Additional Topics
    • Where do you have questions?
    • Widgets &:
      • Facebook
      • Advertising
      • Standards & Directions
      • Open social networking
      • Widget platforms (like Clearspring)
      • Best practices
    • More?
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Fin
    • Thanks!
    • [email_address]
  • Fun for the whole family* http://widgetdevcamp-dc.org * depends on family