Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Monday, March 1, 2010

How To Create A Widget: Guide To The Best Web Widgets Creation Tools and Services

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Web widgets are tiny applications that allow you to easily distribute your content across other blogs and web sites, free of charge. Web widgets work just like YouTube videos: you can place a widget on your web site and let readers grab the embed code and redistribute your content with a few clicks. In this MasterNewMedia guide you will find the best tools and services to create a widget for the web, your desktop environment or specific platforms like WordPress, Blogger or Yahoo!.

Photo credit: Nagravision

Web widgets belong to two main categories:

a) Embeddable: You just grab the standard snippet of embed code of the widget and paste it onto the HTML code of your blog site. You can even add widgets to your favorite social media sites like Facebook, Orkut, Hi5, and others.

b) Not-embeddable: You need to run a widget platform on your computer. All recent Windows and Mac machines already have this feature built-in, while Linux users can install and use Screenlets. Windows XP and early Mac users can instead try a third-party widget platform like Yahoo! Widgets.

By creating a web widget you create small bits of information that virally spread across the web making your content more visible, interactive and usable. RSS feeds, image slideshows, videos, Flash applications... widgets can be used to package and deliver almost every type of digital information.

Let's see some examples of how you can leverage the power of web widgets:

  • By creating a widgets that displays a selection of RSS feeds you can create a niche-targeted newsradar which provides valuable and always-updated information on a topic that interests your audience.
  • By building a widget that embeds a poll or a survey, you may collect useful data and insights into your audience. And because web widgets are so freely redistributable, you may also reach well beyond your circle of fans and supporters with no effort.
  • By creating a compilations of your best blog posts, video, podcasts, you can distribute your top-notch content in a way that readers never miss the valuable information you share, even if it's not freshly published.
  • By building a Flash widget you can create a Google Maps that shares the location of your next conference or meeting so that your fans can join you and participate to your events.
  • By creating a chat widget you can really establish a "conversation" with your readers and customers and also build your online persona.

These are just a few quick suggestions, but as you see, web widgets are really suitable for a number of different uses.

The next step you need to take now is: there are several widget creation tools available online, either free or for a reasonable fee, but how do you go about selecting your ideal one?

To help you identify a widget creation tool that really suits your needs, here below there is a set of comparative tables and individual reviews to help you choose your preferred solution.

Here are the specific selection criteria used to compare these different services

  • Widget type: Technology or coding language used to build and distribute web widgets
  • Pre-made templates: Readily-available templates that you can use to style your web widget.
  • Social sharing: Built-in facility to re-distribute your web widget across web sites or social media services.
  • Analytics: Real-time performance monitoring of your web widget (how many times your widget is shared, by whom, on which destinations, etc.)
  • Registration-free: Non-mandatory registration to utilize the widget creation tool.
  • Price: Cost of the widget creation tool / service.



Widgets Creation Tools - Comparative Tables


Widgets Creation Tools

  1. Widgetbox

    Widgetbox is an online service to create several types of widgets to distribute your content over the web. You can build Flash or HTML widgets, Facebook Apps, Google Gadgets, Twitter widgets, and more. To create and customize your widget, you can use one of the readily-available templates on the web site. Each widget created with Widgetbox is fully redistributable on major social sharing sites, even from the widget itself and you can track the performance of your widget with the built-in analytics facility. If you want to access premium features and also go ads-free, you can switch to one of the two premium plans starting at $3.99/month. Registration is mandatory.

  2. KickApps

    KickApps is a free online service where you can create widgets to distribute your content or promote your brand on the web. KickApps allows you to generate either Flash or HTML widgets starting from scratch or by using one of the available templates. Once the widget is placed on your web site, your readers can re-distribute it using the social sharing feature. You can also create WidgeADs, which are a special type of widgets that work as an advertising banner that is freely redistributable and may help you drive traffic back to your web site. Registration is compulsory to utilize the service. No analytics.

  3. SpinletsLab

    SpinletsLab is a free online service to help you create, distribute and monitor your widgets. You can create Flash widgets either from scratch or by using one of the templates available. Once your widget is created, you can distribute it on every social sharing site and even on mobile phones. Your readers can then spread your content using a dedicated sharing button sported by each widget. Last, you can track the performance of your widget in real-time using the analytics facility. Registration is mandatory to use the SpinletsLabs service.

  4. Produle

    Produle is a widget creator service that allows you to generate three Flash-based widgets at no cost. You have several readily-available templates to style your widget and you also have a web-based studio to add multimedia content as videos, images or music to your widget in just a few clicks. You can freely use Produle widgets to distribute your content across social sharing sites and even let your readers spread your content virally on other web sites using the social sharing feature sported by each widget. Registration is needed to use the service. No analytics.

  5. Widgadget

    Widgadget is a free widget creator that you can use to generate widgets and distribute your content on web sites and social media. You can build either Flash or HTML widgets starting from one of the readily-available templates. These templates are organized to help you choose the best one to target the specific audience your widget wants to reach (bloggers, desktop users, etc.) No analytics, nor social sharing features are available. Widgadget requires registration to create your widget.

  6. Grazr

    Grazr is a free online service which you can use to generate widgets containing the output of RSS feeds. The RSS feed can either include text, images, music or videos. To upload multiple RSS feeds at once, OPML files importing is fully supported. You can choose among three pre-made templates to style your widget, but no analytics nor a social-sharing feature are available. Grazr is completely registration-free.

  7. Desktopify

    Desktopify is a free online service that converts web widgets into stand-alone desktop widgets both for Windows and Mac platforms. You can either copy the embed code or the URL of the web widget and then give a name to your converted desktop widget, set a proper size, write a description and assign a category to get started. The web widget you have submitted will now be converted automatically for Windows and Mac platforms. Once your widget is converted, it will show up inside Desktopify web gallery where everyone can share it on major social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. No pre-made templates are available. Registration is not needed to utilize Desktopify.


How To Create a Widget: The Best Tutorials

  1. How To Create a WordPress Widget


    Since WordPress version 2.0, all plugins (small pieces of code that extend the functionality of the WordPress platform) have been made easy to implement inside your web site or blog using widgets, which seamlessly allow non-technical-savvy people to customize and tweak their web pages. In this tutorial you will learn all you need to create a WordPress widget.


  3. How To Create Yahoo! Widgets


    Yahoo! has an entire section of his online portal devoted to widget creation and development. Inside Yahoo! Widget you will find software downloads, tutorials and other useful resources to design your widget or to convert and package your existing content to be distributed with Yahoo! Widgets.


  5. How To Create Widgets For Blogger


    Blogger is the blogging platform run by Google. Every blog created with Blogger sports a sidebar where you can add widgets that will help others distribute your content on their own Blogger's blog. The Help section of Blogger shares a simple example on how to create a widget.


  7. How To Create Google Gadget


    Google Gadgets are HTML or JavaScript widgets that you can embed on web pages and other apps (like iGoogle) to distribute your content. Google Code has a dedicated section where you can find all the information needed to develop, create and implement a Gadget using the Google API.


  9. How To Create Windows Sidebar Gadgets


    Starting with Vista, Windows operating systems have a sidebar displayed on the right side of the desktop which you can use to manage your Gadgets (widgets). By reading this tutorial, you will learn what is a Windows Gadget and how to develop one that can be used to distribute your content across Windows computers.


  11. How To Create Apple Dashboard Widgets


    The Dashboard is a desktop layer where Mac users can display, add and remove widgets. Apple has an in-depth resource page where you can learn all about Apple widgets from a technical standpoint and how to develop your own widget to distribute your content across Apple computers.

Originally prepared by Daniele Bazzano for MasterNewMedia, and first published on March 1st, 2010 as "How To Create A Widget: Guide To The Best Web Widgets Creation Tools and Services".

Daniele Bazzano -
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posted by Daniele Bazzano on Monday, March 1 2010, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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