October 17, 2008, 12:00 AM

Widgets can work—if they don’t, remove them, expert says

A widget is like a refrigerator magnet—when you find one that’s interesting, you put it on your fridge; if it no longer is interesting, you take it off, said Freddy Mini, CEO of NetVibes, a widget network and developer.

A widget is like a refrigerator magnet-when you find one that’s interesting, you put it on your fridge; if it no longer is interesting, you take it off, said Freddy Mini, CEO of NetVibes, a widget network and developer.

Widgets-tiny applications that showcase information and perform highly focused tasks in a small, visually contained area-can help retailers and other companies extend their brands and help consumers easily get content and functions they desire, Mini said during the session “Building a Widget Ecosystem Around Your Brand” at this week’s Web Experience Forum ’08, held in Boston by Gomez Inc. and sponsored in part by Internet Retailer. Retailers can distribute widgets to customers, who can place them on their blogs, social network pages, computer desktops or other locations.

“Use widgets to reach out more to your consumers,” Mini said. “You can get your widgets wherever your consumers are. And on the Internet, which is about visibility and attention, if you can catch the attention of a consumer on their desktop before they even open their browser, that is gravy to your business.”

Widgets enhance the online experience by bringing things to Internet users; in other words, doing some of the work so users don’t have to. To use widgets most effectively, retailers and other companies must remember three key factors, Mini said.

“First, bring something of value. Provide a helpful service, for example, to make life easier,” he said. “Second, don’t be intrusive-don’t be difficult, loud or obnoxious. And third, respect your consumer-widget settings should be created in a way that matches a consumer’s expectations for how they will use a widget in their computing environment.”

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