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Think of widgets as little single-serving pieces of your web content – easy to pull from your web site and put them wherever they can best boost traffic to your web site.  When you first go to create your own browser theme at BT:Engage, you’ll discover a features tab called Widgets.  You’ll also uncover how powerful a browser theme can be at increasing traffic and visits to your web site.

Here’s what you need to know.In this early stage of BT:Engage, you’ll find only a couple options under the Widgets tab, but think of this as the 20% of features that result in 80% of the value to you and the users of your browser theme. More is on the way to get you the full 100% of value.

Widgets

The term “widget” had its heyday a few years back when Clearspring, Widgetbox and Konfabulator (acquired by Yahoo!) were all the rage. “Apps” is the current hot phrase, but the two are essentially the same thing – an application, or a component of an interface, that enables a user to perform a function or access a service.

What a widget or app forces you to do is compartmentalize the value of your web site. Most web sites are a broad stroke trying to address a lot of business objectives. They try to interest, inform and sell. With the singular focus of a widget, you drill down to a individual value proposition and deliver it to your audience. These are the elements of content your users can’t resist, and by encapsulating them and extending that content beyond your web site, you help drive traffic back to your web site.

Increase Your Web Traffic

You’ve probably already started to think about your content in high-level categories that are important to your users. It’s your site navigation. You probably have sections of news, galleries, community, blogs and more. These are the natural breakdown of toolbar buttons to include in your theme. As you do this, keep a few things in mind:

  • Limit yourself to no more than five buttons.
  • Keep the names short, example: Gallery, News, Shop.
  • If you have a lot of categories, pick the five most popular or most important and skip the “one-time reads” like your About page.
  • Don’t forget to include a link to your affiliate shop or one of your e-commerce destinations.

You also need a news feed. You can easily find a ton of discussion on why Content is King. This is a mixture of keeping your audience interested and coming back to your site, and the search engines seeing you as an active and vibrant web site worthy of pointing searchers to. The more new information you create or offer, the more reason your audience has to return to your web site.

Your news feed can easily be added to your browser theme and will quickly become a large driver of traffic back to your site. Think of it as a persistent invitation and compelling reason for your users to return.

Facebook and Twitter

The next feature we’ll be adding are Facebook and Twitter icons you can add to your browser theme toolbar. We’ve seen our partner themes drive a lot of traffic to their social media presence on Facebook and Twitter using the same method. It’s an easy win for your browser theme and one we’ll turn on soon.

From the user experience, the themes offer the ability to customize the exact pages those icons point to. For example, as the default URL, point to your  Facebook icon to your site’s Facebook page (like http://facebook.com/brandthunder). Many users will be fine with this experience. Others will want to go straight to their homepage and they can change their browser theme preferences to point to Facebook.com instead. The flexibility boosts retention of your theme by giving the experience each user wants, whether its the theme as you designed it or a more personalized one that they fit to their unique needs.

Your Most Desired Widget

What follows the Facebook and Twitter additions is up to you. Post your comments to let us know the widgets you need most to increase traffic to your web site and we’ll get those added to BT:Engage as well.

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