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Social Media Portal Landscape - Widgets


A widget is a web based application that is stand-alone in that it can be used and syndicated anywhere on the internet through embedded code to a website, blog or social networking site.  A widget is closely related, if not intrinsically linked to an Application (both Applications and Widgets are categorised under Technology in the social media Landscape) and there is much debate with industry bodies if the two are different at all.


Widgets began well before the hype around social media began, and actually date back to 1981 when the graphical user interface (GUI) was designed.  A GUI enables icons, images and visual indicators to be used to command function as opposed to a text-based interface.  The user interacts directly with the graphic element to perform a specific function; a widget.

Internet software company Netscape, primarily known for their popular browser of the same name, unveiled its widget in 1996 with the launch of PowerStart.  PowerStart, a personal homepage built in to the Netscape browser, allowed users to see the latest stock results, weather forecasts and other dynamic web content which were powered by Java.   

In 2003, software development company Konfabulator launched desktop widgets.  Konfabulator was sold to internet giant Yahoo! and renamed as Yahoo! Widgets.  In 2005 almost at the same time, Apple released its own widget engine, Dashboard for the Mac operating system.  In October 2000, Stardock released a GUI engine for Windows machines called DesktopX which powered customisable news tickers and information from the web.


In 2006 widgets started making their way towards standardisation when the Web Application Formats Working Group released the first public draft of Widgets 1.0 in W3C (World Wide Web Consortium).  Widgets work across mobile, desktop and browser and soon as part of next generation television sets via the Yahoo! Widget Engine.

Desktop widgets serve as interactive virtual tools to make the desktop experience personal.  Popular desktop widgets include calendars, weather, time, dictionary, maps, language translators and calculators amongst others.  Window?s most recent operating system Windows Vista famously integrated Microsoft gadgets as standard format.

Web widgets served across the browser have a very strong viral element and are used extensively today in social media marketing campaigns by small, medium and corporate organisations.  A web widget has limited functionality and normally centres around having the user follow a call to action, such as playing a game, using it as a badge, enter data or visiting a website.  One of the first commercial web based widgets was Trivia Blitz in 1997 and appeared on over 35,000 websites from social network Geocities to CNN and Tower Records.  When Uproar, the company serving the widget, was acquired by Vivendi Universal in 2001 the widget was discontinued.


Mobile widgets are akin to desktop widgets, however they are developed specifically for the mobile handset in order to maximise the limited functionality and screen space.  Mobile widgets are often more popular than general browser surfing across mobile as they deliver a better user experience as they are developed for that market, where as many website owners ignore the fact their website may not render correctly on mobile devices.

The benefits of adding your widget to SMP

  • Tell our readership about your widgets and what they do
  • Add and syndicate your widgets to a wider audience and put your skills on display
  • Reach brands, marketers and advertisers that are looking to connect with your target audience through your widget
  • Connect with potential stakeholders, media and researchers raising the visibility of your widget
  • Update your stakeholders and target audiences with case studies, events, press releases and/or whitepapers about your software or technology
  • Differentiate your approach, products, service and widget from your competitors
  • Submit news scoops about your app through SMP to be considered for social media news
  • List other assets of what your widget possesses that relate to the social media Landscape and demonstrate the other relationships that it has
  • Share your expertise through opinion and thought leadership articles published on the SMP site reaching your audiences (from how-to through to creation, development and promotion)

Have you built a widget?

Become part of the SMP Landscape by adding your widget