This was based on a talk by Dion Hinchcliffe at the Web2.0 Expo, Tuesday April 17, 2007

Important trends-

  • Web sites with portable content and functionality
  • Putting modular web parts on the blogs and profiles to host the pieces of the web that they want to share
  • Realization the there is limited value being on one site
  • Atomization of content – smaller pieces are easier to reuse
  • Microformats are the smallest pieces
  • Do it yourself trend is combining with the rise of web portable content and functionality- people help themselves

Web as a parts “Superstore”
Little question that the web is turning into a sort of online Home Depot with its shelves line with thousand of useful off the shelf parts of every description and utility- a lot of problems users can solve themselves w/o programmers

Jakob’s law

  • Users spend most of their time somewhere else
  • Design your products and service to leverage the fact


  • Everyone has a channel on the web, end users remixing the web out of parts.
  • Javascript, flash, WPF/E

How to think about it?

  • Build open platforms instead of stand alone apps- self distributing ecosystems
  • Spread you product beyond your site- APIs, badges, syndication
  • Standing on the shoulders of giants- leverage Yahoo, Amazon etc.
  • Automated mass servicing of markets with low demand content and functionality (Long tail) – bulk of the demand

What are they?

  • Widgets- small apps that can be embedded on the web – can be AJAX or flash- usually pulled live from the site.
  • Badges – displays of content pulled under the covers from other sites (more of content display)
  • Gadgets – more formal widget models from Google and Microsoft

Key aspects

  • Supreme ease of consumption and distribution – copy and paste is best; single line Javascript includes (Google maps); Object embed tags for flash
  • Connect to the underlying sites to provide value and control as well
  • Have a business model backed deeply into it – driving site traffic content consumption, advertising.

Power of widgets

  • Makes your web apps functionality and content portable
  • Works anywhere not just on your site
  • Network effects via viral propagation
  • Supply both mashups as well as hosting on blogs wikis


  • Consumers – moving content and functionality they want to where they need it
  • o Building simple dashboard and applications
  • Developers and Prosumers
  • o Easy to integrate with high value functionality
  • Business
  • o External sourcing of functionality and content
  • o Web apps built on top of the shoulders…

Widget stories

  • Youtube video badge
  • o Highly viral excellent end user motivation
  • Uses web as a content billboard
  • Consistently drives user growth, video views and traffic back to the site
  • Didn’t take the users intelligence for granted
  • Showed the raw code for hosting right next to every video

Google adwords widget

  • o Most successful widget in history
  • Drives enormous revenue to Google
  • Turns entire web into Google ad platform
  • Key aspects
  • o Good user incentive
  • o Extreme ease of use
  • o Strong viral feedback loop

Business Case

  • Content on millions of other pages
  • Let users broaden you distribute globally at virtually not cost
  • Turn your apps into open platforms and foundation of dozen of other products (or leave majority of value of online product and services untapped)
  • o AMZN has 50k businesses build on top

Key design considerations

  • Scalability
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Reliability
  • Exploitation of others
  • Global reach
  • Security
  • o Think through all the cross domain issue, sharing of personal data (eg pictures and video)
  • IP issues
  • o Do you have a license to redistribute the content?
  • o Con other violate the IP protection of others
  • o Do you widget make it hard to other to take content out of the widget
  • Not losing control
  • Ease of Consumption
  • o Must be really simple copy and paste
  • Leverage network effects
  • o Encourage every view to share
  • End user motivation
  • o Only if it does something useful for them
  • o Sharing interesting content, shared access to person data or even paying them (as Google does)
  • Enabling mashusp
  • o Widgets are key ingredient to the mashup phenomenon
  • Many believe this is new app dev model
  • o Widgets provide raw ingredients to this
  • Build in weeks vs months


  • Flashearth

Business mashups

  • Mckinsey- 10% of companies are looking at mashups inside the firewall


  • Small pieces loosely joined
  • Simplicity and extreme loose coupling
  • Reuse the web palette first
  • SLAs will get more interesting
  • Get experience now- begin trials to offer your capabilities or services
  • Make sure it legal to build business from profitable for others and extremely easy to do
  • Provide minimum of restrictive structure and make it possible for users to do it themselves