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Learning Center - Make a Widget that Works

Here you will gain access to information that will help you to successfully and easily create, deploy and track your widgets made in Editor’s Desk. We’ll post a range of useful information here, from announcements of free monthly webinars (as well as the content afterwards), best practices for getting the most out of NewsGator widgets, news items, and more.

Best Practice #1: Clearly Define Your Objectives

Before deploying a widget, it is very important to first consider the purpose of the widget and what you hope to achieve through it. In turn, the variety and type of widgets you implement should be based on the objectives. Equally important is to track the level of reader engagement and adjust accordingly.

Sample Objectives Key Measurement
Increase Online Traffic Page Views
Click Through Rates
Interact with Customers / Own The Conversation Other Interactions
Click Through Rates
Syndicate Brand & Content To Other Sites/Locations Descendants / Placements
Drive Ad Sponsorships Ad/Sponsorship Dollars
Click Through Rates


For example, if you implement a widget with hopes to increase online traffic, it is important to monitor page views and click through rates; if you implement a widget in order to interact with customers, you should be monitoring other actions beyond page views, such as users who share content or add the widget to their own pages. Likewise if you deploy widgets to drive ad sponsorships, you should track ad dollars, impressions, and click through rates.

In short, it is important that you clearly define your intended objective before you deploy a widget; that you track pertinent engagement measurements; and that you adjust the widget accordingly in order to reach your end goal.

Best Practice #2: Know Your Audience & Select Relevant Content

Before deploying a widget, it is very important that you know your target audience and select relevant content that will appeal to them.

The first step is establishing who your target audience is and where they live; are they local, regional, national or international? Second is determining what they care about, and with this you can cater to the specific interests of users. Since widgets are generally easily deployable, the best strategy may be to make several widgets that focus on separate topics (i.e., politics, the economy, sports).

A key part of building a successful widget is encouraging interaction by using dynamic (and in some cases localized) content. Enabling users to provide content can also make your widget significantly more appealing. In addition, engaging users with a variety of content types (pictures, video, and text) can make the user experience more robust.

CBS News Zip Code Widget

In short, before deploying a widget, it is vital that you are familiar with your target demographic and figure out what makes them tick. This step is critical to creating a successful, dynamic widget that users want to interact with.

Best Practice #3: Aggregate Content from Multiple Sources

Why is this important to aggregate content from multiple sources? The simple fact is that the "content universe" is far larger than what you/your site publishes. As such, it is useful to combine multiple content sources -- both in house and syndicated. In order to create a robust widget it is helpful to leverage NewsGator's discovery tools and editorial control, which include a feed search which gives you the ability to control post level content within each feed. We have more than 3 million feeds which you can choose from!

inRich Checkbox Widget

Giving your viewers access to a wide variety of content, both internal and external, allow for a more rich experience for the user and enhances the engagement quotient. Don't be shy in combining multiple content sources in your widgets!

Best Practice #4: Social Interaction, Prominent Placement, Broad Distribution

The keys to building a successful widget are fostering engagement as well as prominent placement and broad distribution of the widget. And one of the keys of engagement — beyond the obvious caveats of not making the widget too complicated and making sure the content is fresh — is fostering social interaction. To foster this interaction (without making the widget overly busy), consider adding to the widget several of the below options NewsGator widgets provides:

The other key steps in creating a successful widget are prominent site placement and broad distribution/promotion. In terms of placement and distribution, here are some suggestions: