Thursday, October 30, 2008

The trouble with widgets.

Have your clients asked you for a widget yet? Widgets are single-purpose applications that allow companies to quickly and easily share “live” content—news, images, information, you name it, right on your computer desktop. No opening a browser window, it’s all sitting right there for you.

You might think of widgets as the modern day equivalent of tchotchkes, those old school promotional trinkets like logo-emblazoned coffee cups or pencils or note pads, designed to keep a company’s name front and center in a customer’s mindset. And more and more businesses are using them.

The Weather Channel has a widget that can give you a non-stop stream of local weather info. Southwest Airlines has a widget that “dings” every time a special offer is sent your way. And a nifty little widget from Domino’s Pizza serves up a customized menu with the click of a desktop icon.

But for every helpful or entertaining widget, there are hundreds more that are silly or inconsequential. Why? Most widgets don’t bring any added value to a customer’s life. After all, most of your customer’s desktops are as crowded as their inboxes. You’re fighting for the equivalent of beachfront real estate and most people are not going to give it up easily.

So if you find yourself developing a widget for one of your clients, you might want to ask these questions. Will my widget make the life of my customer easier? Will it save them money? Will it entertain them? If it can’t do at least one of these three things, and do it well, your widget is probably not worth doing.

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