I love ranting about things that don’t make sense to me. Having said that, I think we (the blogosphere) need to take a serious look at widgets…
It seems that new start-ups are popping up on a day-to-day basis with what they think will be the next ‘killer widget’. Hopes for an outcome like that of MyBlogLog are slim. MyBlogLog had a simple concept, pinpoint execution, rapid adoption, and good timing (sale to Yahoo). This was definitely a special case.
Anyone and their dog can create a widget, but getting people to use it is another story. Furthermore, the value and function of the widget needs to be congruent with the purpose of a widget itself. If the fit is not there, failure is inevitable.
From an alternative point-of-view, the pro’s of a successful widget are immense. Obviously, they are a great way to drive viral adoption among other things. Please read my post entitled Widget Marketing for further in-depth information about the advantages and disadvantages of widgets. In essence though, the widget MUST be useful. It seems rather straightforward, but many are more focused on simply creating a widget rather than making it useful and relevant.
One of the biggest problem to have arisen is a focus away from the site content in favour of the widget. This is not the optimal outcome for most site owners. Moreover, these embeddable devils slow down page loading times. For this very reason, I have removed several widgets from this blog, most notably a chat widget.
Now I’m definitely not condemning widgets as I see their place in the blogosphere and the new web. What I am condemning is the misuse of a widget as a marketing strategy or business model altogether. There must be a stunning value proposition for both the reader/visitor/user, as well as the site author for the widget to be successful. If ambiguity is present and value cannot be presented in a logical manner, it is probably time to adopt a new strategy.