Do you ever visit a website and wonder how it got all of those “widgets” to work? The booking form, the calendar, or even the weather display? Many people assume that these kinds of bells and whistles require a web developer to put in place. But these days it’s usually as simple as copying and pasting some text. Taking advantage of these tools can engage your visitors, offer valuable insights, and make a simple site much more functional.
Each tool differs slightly, but typically after customizing your widget on the widget-maker’s website, you will be provided with some HTML code and directions for where to put it on your site. A block of code might seem intimidating at first, but you’ll quickly realize that a simple copy and paste is all that’s necessary because the widget-builders have already done the hard work for you.
My top website widget picks
Something to keep in mind: make sure you’re not adding widgets for the sake of adding widgets. Widgets can do a lot, but they can’t compensate for a poorly designed site, so make sure your website itself is strong before adding a lot of widgets. You’ll want to keep your site free of clutter, and it’s certainly easy to get out of hand with so many useful widgets available.
A Mailchimp email subscription widget embedded on a Jimdo website.
If your website needs a slideshow, give PhotoSnack
a try. PhotoSnack provides an easy way to embed mobile-friendly slideshows on your website. It can upload photos from your Facebook, Flickr, and Instagram accounts, or you can use it to show off a portfolio of your work.
Photosnack is an easy way to add different kinds of slideshows to your site, whether to show off products, travel photos, your portfolio, or more.
Floating social media buttons are a stylish way to encourage sharing, which is why we use them on the Jimdo Blog. There are lots of services that offer various designs, but AddThis
is a great option. With a simple copy and paste, you can have floating social media buttons or sidebars on every page of your website.
Eye-catching social media buttons can increase the amount your content is shared.These are available for free from AddThis.
Booking & Calendars
If you need to share a calendar on your website, Google Calendar
is the classic bet. But if you need something with a bit more functionality, like for bookings or to show availability, there are some really good options:
With BookingBug, you can put a calendar right on your website and let visitors book appointments with you instantly.
- Own a restaurant? Take online reservations with the OpenTable widget.
- Are you a personal trainer? Own a salon? Teach diving lessons? You probably need to take bookings as well. If so, BookingBug is right up your alley.
- If you own a holiday home you’d like to rent, you can use AvailabilityCalendar.com, which syncs with Airbnb, Google, FlipKey by TripAdvisor, and more.
- If you are holding an event you need to sell tickets to, look no further than Ticketleap or Eventbrite. Either service will allow you to create an event and embed a widget on your website to seamlessly sell tickets to your event with just a click of the mouse.
One of the most common questions I get is, “How can I sell music/videos/ebooks/comics on my site?” Time and time again, I recommend Gumroad
for its usability and website integration. Offering a digital subscription? Gumroad has you covered as well—you can set up a subscription-based pricing model for your product, manage your subscriber base, and send updates all from the console that Gumroad provides. While there are other great options out there, Gumroad is my go-to because it’s just so simple.
Widgets like SnapEngage let you easily start a live chat conversation with your customers.
, and Olark
are great options if you’re looking to add a customer service or sales channel to your site. If you own a small business, hiring call center representatives can be quite expensive, so taking advantage of live chat is a great way to provide support.
makes tracking social media and website analytics a breeze with an intuitive, customizable dashboard. eClincher allows you to track real-time website traffic, analyze social impact, and manage social media accounts, all through the same dashboard.
While Google is almost always the first name in search, Swiftype
is likely the easiest and most powerful way to add a search field to your website. Swiftype combines advanced indexing, autocomplete, and custom result ranking with an easy-to-embed widget, making it one of my personal favorite tools.
While many website platforms include a comments section for your blog or news posts, few are as slick and functional as Disqus
. There’s a great reason why some of the biggest websites—such as Wired, CNN, and The Next Web—use Disqus: it’s easy to implement, it’s optimized to engage traffic, and offers advanced features, such as analytics.
Disqus is one of the best tools for commenting. It’s easy to use and offers many advanced features.
Need a Q&A forum for your site? Pubble
is a customizable solution that offers analytics and is easy to add to your existing site.
If your site would benefit from a chatroom, check out RumbleTalk
. RumbleTalk is also customizable, SEO friendly, and even includes a spam filter.
Most website building platforms offer a built-in contact form module, but what if you need some extra functionality? Wufoo
fills this void quite nicely by offering advanced features, such as file upload functionality, and virtually unlimited customization to the form fields.
POWr.io is a one-stop shop for all sorts of widgets that you can customize for your site.
Last but not least, I want to mention POWr.io
. This is a very cool site that is basically a catalog of widgets and plugins for all different website builders. Just choose your website builder and the kind of widget you want, and POWr.io will provide you with an option that you can edit and adjust directly on your website. It essentially provides a plugin editor on top of your site editor, so it integrates seamlessly with your website building platform. See how POWr plugins can work on a Jimdo site.