The Weight of the Widget, Volume II: The Secret to Success

As a continuation of Volume I, this post explores the appropriate questions to ask when creating a widget and the key principles to a truly brand building application.

In an industry that is always enduring the trial and error of new trends, it’s fair to debate whether this new gadget will actually contribute to a brand’s success. Despite its popularity amongst hundreds of millions, widgets still need to serve a purpose in order to make a
successful connection between brand and audience.

Here’s an example:

Purina created a mini-applet that alerts pet owners of good dog-walking weather. By extending its brand experience beyond dog food, the brand makes an even larger impact on the consumer’s life. This widget is a way of saying “We’re about more than just feeding your dog. We understand the life of a pet-owner and we are here for you.”

Widgets also tend to last longer than traditional advertising. If it’s something consistently entertaining or informative to the user, they are likely to keep it part of their routine, grow accustom to it, and potentially shudder at the thought of living without it.

So what key considerations must one make?

1. Consider Your Brand

Don’t just tack on your brand message to some flashy, unrelated function. Allow the widget to be a practical extension of your brand. Offer content that while useful or entertaining, also subtly enforces your brand’s identity. Acura is known for having the best navigation system on the market, so they developed the Acura RDX Traffic widget that delivers real-time traffic flow to a user’s computer. Not only is it an extremely useful application, but also a functioning extension of Acura’s brand attributes.

"It is important to raise the widget to the level of the brand, not reduce the brand to the level of the widget.” -
Snipperoo Widget Blog

2. Consider Your Audience

While much of your effort will be spent designing and constructing a widget that is perfect for the user, you can’t forget about where you’ll be placing it. The placement is as important as the widget itself. There are millions of sites on the web that cover everything five times over, so it’s crucial to know the sites that not only achieve reach, but also have their own credible identity. And don’t forget, your widget should also enhance the site it’s on, making it a
mutually beneficial partnership. But you may be considering a desktop widget that engages users in a deeper connection, in which case you better hope that your content can hold the interest of the user.

“There’s no free parking on the desktop: Keep it meaningful and fresh.” – Kate Donaho, Group Creative Director, T3

So what kind of content can hold the user’s attention every day? Are RSS feeds the key to keeping it fresh? Are there interactive games that can stand the test of time and wear out?

1 comment:

  1. This is great advice, Julie! Too many content providers are just creating widgets for the sake of creating widgets, but as you said, widgets need to be created in a way that truly enhances and extends the brand that they're a part of.

    Brandon Watts
    Daylife Evangelist