What is a Widget?
Widgets are small software applications that can be installed on a Web page or computer desktop to add interactivity and display small quantities of information. For example, a Web widget might display the five most recent posts on a blog or a login form to a forum. Because they can be easily moved around on a Web page, widgets are also called Web parts, gadgets, modules and snippets.
The purpose of a widget
Widgets display a wide range of data, from calendars to weather to stock prices to social media feeds. Programmers have found ways to make a widget for just about every function needed. They can pull information from external websites, such as with weather and stock widgets. Or they can repackage information on your website, like recent comments and popular blog posts.
Types of widgets
In addition to Web widgets, you can also find desktop and mobile widgets. Desktop widgets are applications that run on PC desktops. These will display functions like processor and CPU usage, current weather, calendar and time and more. Similar widgets can be found on mobile devices, such as Android smartphones and tablets. These widgets can be installed on the mobile device’s desktop and will display similar information to that of desktop PCs.
Where widgets can be used
Widgets can be used in a variety of places depending on the functionality of the operating system using them. For example, Windows PCs and Macs offer widgets that display on the desktop. Wordpress blogs can display widgets on a website. Widgets can also be used on mobile operating systems like Android.
Android phones build a number of widgets straight into the operating system. The basics of these include a clock, calendar and bookmarks. Additional widgets can be found in the Android Market for free or low prices.
Widgets fulfill a wide range of functions for both personal and business use. Businesses use widgets to track website visitors, provide syndicated content and highlight daily deals. Widgets also play a powerful role in social media and display activity feeds from websites like Twitter and Facebook.
The complexity of widgets
Widgets are popular because they are simple to use. Web users don’t need to know programming to install a widget. To use a widget on a website, all you need to do is copy the code and paste it into the desired location. From that point, you can adjust how you want the widget to look and act based on the options given by the original design.
The only complex part about using a widget is determining where to past the code. For content management systems like Blogger and Wordpress, much of the work is done for relegating space to widgets and all you need to do is open a pre-existing widget location to copy the code.