Widget Creep

May 21st, 2008 | Categories: blogs, content, design, marketing, off topic, strategy, usability, widgets

The term “feature creep” is often used to describe a product or service overridden with features to a point where the overall offering becomes less functional. Rather than focus on a few outstanding features, a myriad of substandard features are crammed into the product, diminishing the overall value and utility. I think the same can be said for blogs — and the abuse use of widgets.

Widgets can definitely add value to the overall experience of a blog. The key is to find the few, valuable widgets that provide the greatest benefit. I’ve visited countless blogs that pack as many widgets into the sidebar as possible. They jump on the latest and greatest, without assessing the true value of the offering. Is there really a fit? Does this widget provide maximum utility? In most cases, the answer is simple — no. In a few cases though, the addition of a widget may provide marketing value or a more enjoyable user experience.

I guess my advice to bloggers is that web real estate is valuable. Don’t clutter it with useless embedded devices. Do yourself a favour right now. Assess the widgets currently on your blog and delete the ones that aren’t necessary. Just focus on a few widgets in particular. And, in the future, when you come across the hottest new widget, give it some real thought before adding it to your blog. After all, it may ultimately diminish your experience rather than add to it.

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3 Comments

  1. Michael Artemiw Says:

    Some blogs are starting to look like the emails I get from relatives in England. Too many different fonts, animated gifs, … It can get ugly fast.

    There is another widget creep that webapp developers should be cognizant of. Each ‘platform’ will require a different or at least tweaked widget to make it work. One for iGoogle, one for Blogger, WordPress, etc. Once you have one you feel drawn to develop all the others.

    Like your advice to the bloggers, developers should pick a couple platforms and focus on creating widgets that will add value to users’ sites.

  2. Mike Rundle Says:

    At 9rules we’ve had widgets done and ready for probably 6+ months, but never released them for this reason… we needed to get them “right” so they didn’t look cobbled together on your blog if you dropped them in. The ultimate goal is to just provide HTML and people can style via CSS as they wish but that leaves out a large portion of bloggers who aren’t CSS experts, so finding the compromise solution is pretty difficult. Got any ideas?

  3. Aidan Says:

    @Mike

    I think your recommendation is reasonable. A flexible solution that caters to non-techies while providing additional functionality for uber-geeks is the ultimate goal.

    What types of widgets have you been devising? Would they simply display category feeds?

    Cheers,
    Aidan

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