09 Jan 2009

Widgets on TV and Why Widgets are Important

One of my first priorities at We Build Pages was to change the way we interacted with our own information, tools and databases. To accomplish this goal, our entire development team had to stop what they were doing, not take on new projects, and spend a couple weeks to create a more flexible way of storing and interacting with our data. They did a great job.

The ability to interact with data in a “widgetized” form was crucial to me for several reasons. One of the most important concepts of widgets that I think many do not yet grasp is a very simple one.

The way that we have been displaying and interacting with data is not very efficient.

We had an assumption that our Web pages were perfect little pieces of displayed information, yet widgets have taught us that they were not. An individual resource, no matter how wonderful, is still an individual resource. The places where widgets are used are not much different than a shopping mall. Malls are useful because many different products and stores are in one convenient place. Personalized home pages like iGoogle or Netvibes are just malls for data.

These means you need to provide the ability to connect with your data outside of your website and ensure you are getting value from your widgets or projects wherever they may reside on the web.

Why do hundreds of millions of people use widgets? Because it is more efficient for them. It is more convenient to interact with their world and the data in it (emails, messages, stocks, news, entertainment) in one place than it is to interact with the very same data in twelve places.

Yahoo introduced a relationship with SamSung in which Yahoo widgets will be availible on TVs.

Imagine watching your favorite show and being able to check your email during commercials. Or if you are learning something on the Web through a video and you could see that video full screen on your TV. What about a Twitter feed sidebar so you can discuss what is happening with your friends during a show or a football game?

There are many possibilities, but what this announcement means to me is not just about widgets. It is more about how we interact with data. The more that you know about how people interact with data, the more capacity you have to serve your audience.

It seems that widgets are rather misunderstood.

Do you yet realize that widgets are used by millions of people all around the globe? Do you yet understand that widgets are used by millions of people on their phones? Are you aware that millions of people will interact with widgets on their television sets?

If not, your competitors surely will.

Widgets are portals into other worlds where your advertising will never reach. Widgets are the pathway to people who would never otherwise see your Web site.  They are simple, convenient, portable, and intelligent ways to display your data and to allow interaction and access.

You need a widget budget.

You will likely not receive better ROI from any other budget in your business. Widgets are not just Facebook apps or Google gadgets. They are a way for people to interact with your products and services wherever they are and whichever medium they are using.

The definition of what a widget actually is has not, in my opinion, been stated well in our field. There are hints of it here and great articles about it there, but there doesn’t seem to be an overall reference for this on the Web.

That is why I have been making one for the new We Build Pages Web site.

The next couple of weeks you will be hearing many things about widgets from We Build Pages.

We are now open for business for widget strategy analysis and widget creation.

If you do not understand the widget world but want to explore the possibilities of them in your field, I would recommend that you contact us and let us know about it.