the perfect games widget

Or at least that is the aim. The anatomy of this clock widget is different to the other in that it has practical applications for our business (games company- games widget). The aim of it is to have a link at the top on the logo which goes back to our site (this has specific anchor text which should aid for some link juice for seo, though what I read is divided about the value of it). There is a link to free stuff, which is a page where we offer free games, screensavers and other fun stuff in exchange for people registering. And there is a link to have it play in a full screen. This generates our pop-up window for the game and at the same time shows our pre-game commercial which allows us to monetize the traffic a little. We thought about having a download button on there, but I think the other buttons are more effective (not many people choose to download). In terms of results we’re pretty happy, we haven’t started promoting it, but virally it has spread pretty well.

In terms of challenges, each of the platforms has its own idiosyncrasies, which makes it challenging;
Open Social is a lovely concept, but until it is standardized that is what it will remain. It is impossible to develop one application and expect it to work across all Open Social platforms, some are on 0.7 others on 0.8 and there are specific tweaks to all of them which require bespoke attention (Hyves is the ones that we work with mainly in the Netherlands, and it has been difficult to make it work with them).

The next challenge is distribution, the dream is viral distribution. Watch this one go 
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new clock widget

This is one of the widgets that we have recently released. We worked together with Yourminis to get it up and running and I wanted to give an overview of the strategy behind it. Our objective was threefold; to have some type of branding vehicle, to drive some traffic and to generate some SEO backlinks. Getting more data on how things fit together is also interesting. The strategy was pretty simple, we know that one of the most installed pieces of content is a clock, and we know that our users are passionate about our intellectual property, so we wanted to find a way to combine them. The default clock is one for our game Pastry Passion, and there are options to change it to two other hits of ours (however we know that 80% of people usually stick with the default).

If you look at the clock there is a linkable logo (with some SEO’d anchor text), there is a link to free stuff (our free games, screensavers and other fun stuff) as well as link to more games. Using the yourminis dashboard you can copy it to numerous different platforms (blogger, facebook, bebo, igoogle etc) and achieve the joy of viral distribution. I’ll post about the other widget we made once its live and we have some numbers about how its performing.

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Google gadget ads

Google has now released gadget ads to run on their content network. It allows you to serve the ads and change the content, run all sorts of cool rich media and add them to their favourites/iGoogle page. This solves one of the queries about distribution i talked about earlier, which will work fine if you have a great gadget and a trustworthy brand.


There is a whole lot of talk about widgets and gadgets as new methods of interaction; it is a very enticing topic that takes in a couple of major trends in the online world. Central to it is the idea that we no longer live in a “push” economy where people are willing to be dictated to in terms of content. Everyone is discriminating in what they choose to receive, and they will be the barometer of what is important for them to invest their time in. Plugging something into a social network (e.g. Facebook) and RSS for easy updating and easy choice are both very “2.0” and of the moment. To take a little barometer about where things are at the moment in the widgetsphere (*tm bmcnulty), the growth in widget usage is pretty exponential, a 7% usage increase of the worldwide online population from April to June of this year (to 239.1 million people).

There are 3 major platforms for widgets; namely the web, desktop and mobile (the iPhone makes the mobile more interesting), however the majority of widgets are being plugged into social networking sites (in fact the top 15 social networking sites make up 90% of the installed widgets.

Your widget can be either static or updated from new content that you update. The static form of the content can take many forms, from novelty (a bug walking around your desktop), sticky notes to a currency convertor. Good for branding, potentially advertising and accessing your database
The updateable content is more RSS driven, e.g. weather, blog posts, top movies, the list is endless. Taking all the content you have and condensing it into a miniature version that appeals is a difficult proposition. You may get all the cool rounded corners and “Apple”-like sophistication, but people still have to have a hankering for what you’re looking for. How to make it viral to ensure significant distribution is a difficult proposition.

Which brings us to distribution; there are a number of sites set up for widget distribution at the moment, but I’m not sure if there is anything failsafe (except for having something that really appeals to a basic need people have, and letting it go virally). I think you have to leverage your current audience and get them to interact with it first and foremost. Using that will also move you up the barometer on Google or Facebook and ensure that you’re one of the more popular options.
I’ve been reading a couple of sites which are pretty interesting in this area.