The Seven Deadly Sins of Widgets

Seven Deadly Widget Sins

Seven Deadly Sins For Widgets

Thanks to the efforts of web developer hobbyists and corporations with well designed link baiting campaigns, widgets have become widely-used website code snippets.  Anything from social media feeds to stock tickers can function as widgets. Although they can add a lot of value to a webpage, they must be used with caution. Therefore, I’ll be sharing with you what not to do with these widgets.

Sin #1: Use too many widgets on a page.

Overload of Widgets

Too Many Widgets on One Page

One thing I don’t care for is having a lot of distracting widgets on a web page. Typically you’ll see websites include their Facebook and Twitter buttons along with a sign up box for an email. If you draw the line there, I think widgets are generally fine. However, it’s very easy to get carried away and add extra widgets. I came across the site you see below and they included 3 widgets that I think are completely useless for a website.

Sin #2: Use widgets that make noise or play video automatically

Most of us have visited websites that have background music or have a video that is triggered every time there is a new page view.  These are very distracting and often increase bounce rates. Unless you are a company that works within the entertainment industry, it’s best to leave these elements off your page.

Sin #3: Use widgets that function as “pop-ups”

Widgets that Popup on Landing Pages

Landing Page Using Popup Widgets

It never ceases to amaze me how many website still utilize some sort of pop-up. You can block most of them through your browser settings, but that won’t prevent you from seeing in-page pop-ups like the one you see below.  Once again, they are annoying and can increase your bounce rates so get rid of them.

Sin #4: Use widgets that have nothing to do with the site content.

Often you’ll see websites that include a weather widget or a stock ticker. Although they are nice in the sense that they provide unexpected, valuable information, they also distract visitors. This is a problem when you are trying to generate conversions. Ideally you want to remove them, but if that is not an option, try to only include them on pages that aren’t a part of the conversion process.

Sin #5: Use widgets that cannibalize one another

This is when two widgets used on a page do the same thing. You will often see this with social media buttons and content sharing boxes. There will be a twitter meme (sharing button) at the top of the post and at the bottom, another sharing button that looks totally different. In most cases, it’s best to go with just one button.

Sin #6: Use widgets that take you to another web page (besides the conversion page)

No website owner who is concerned with conversions wants to send someone away from their webpage. Consequently, you want to make sure that your widgets don’t send someone off to another website when they click on them. For certain widgets, like a Twitter feed, this is unavoidable. The redeeming factor is that you still have some control over what is displayed on that social media page, but if you are using a widget that leads to another site that you can’t control, get rid of it!

Sin #7: Use widgets that don’t work

Broken widgets are another annoying web page element. For whatever reason, the widget’s script code is not being read correctly and the widget becomes nothing more than a glorified blank space on your webpage. Constant reviewing of pages and testing site performance in different browsers is the best way of discovering broken widgets. You will need to remove them completely or fix the script that supports them.

Category: Seven Deadly Sins
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One Response to The Seven Deadly Sins of Widgets

  1. Paul says:

    I think Sin #1, is using any widgets that hurt site performance. I had a client who was obsessed with widgets and modules on her WP site. I got her to keep it to a select few, but there was one photo feed widget that used several javascripts calls and they were SLOW. as a result her pages would always half load wait up to 15 seconds for the damn widget js to download, and then continue on its merry way. The issue was resolved by hard coding the stuff in there and moving the js to the bottom of the page, but for novice devs using off the shelf plugins without any knowledge of how they work, widgets like this are site killers.

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