How to Get Started with Widgets

A Widget Guide

Widget Guide - Widgetbox
Widgetbox is a great place to find widgets. (Image of Widgetbox).

When a person or a website refers to a widget, they are commonly referring either to a web widget or a desktop widget. While these two things sound the same, they are actually quite different. A desktop widget resides on your computer's desktop and doesn't require a web browser to be open, while a web widget is a component of a web page, so it does require a web browser.

Widget Guide - Web Widgets

A web widget is a small piece of code that can be placed on a website or blog, such as embedding a video from YouTube.

The four most common places to use web widgets are:

  • Websites. Whether it is a personal website or a business website, widgets can enhance productivity or just add a little fun to your site. A common example of a widget on a website is ad blocks such as Google Ads.
  • Blogs. Widgets can give your blog a personalized feel, or provide advanced utility for your readers. A common example of a widget on a blog are those "Digg this" icons that will automatically submit blog posts to Digg.
  • Personalized Start Pages. Widgets can also add productivity and/or fun to your start page. A common example of a widget on a start page is RSS readers used to deliver the headlines from your favorite blog or news source such as Yahoo! News or CNN.
  • Social Networking Profiles. You can use widgets on a Social Network to tell more about yourself, such as listing out your favorite books, or have compiled your favorite songs into a playlist to play for visitors to your profile.

To use a web widget, you must copy the widget code to your website, blog, start page or social networking profile. Some widget galleries help out by automating this process for you.

Widget Guide - Desktop Widgets

A desktop widget is a small application that runs on your desktop, sometimes accessing the Internet for information, such as a desktop widget that shows the local temperature and weather.

Desktop widgets can provide a large range of uses for your desktop. For example, a scratch pad widget can allow you to create small notes for yourself and post them on your desktop, just as you might put notes on your refrigerator.

To use a desktop widget, you need to first install a widget toolbox to manage the widgets on your desktop. ​Into Widgets is a popular source of desktop widgets, and Yahoo provides a widget toolbox. Microsoft Vista also comes with a widget toolbox to manage desktop widgets.

Widget Guide - How Can I Find Widgets?

One problem many people have is actually finding widgets to put on their web page or blog. Most personalized start pages come with a small gallery of widgets that can be used on the start page, but if you are looking for a widget for your blog, it can sometimes be difficult to locate them.

This is where widget galleries come into play. Widget galleries allow people who create widgets to post their widget to the gallery so people like you and me can easily find them. These galleries allow you to search by category to find the widget you are interested in for your blog or social networking profile, and often will even help you get it installed properly.