Whipping off Widgets

In my last post “Nine Ways to Widget Wisdom“, I claimed that “Widgets are so easy to build, you can whip one off in 5 minutes…”

Well some good blogging friends in Chicago, Derrick Sorles and Michael Snell, at BUSINESS BLOGGING TIPS & SECRETS took me up on my offer to prove it. They were a little skeptical — but game to try. So, I called Michael one morning and coached him through how to make a basic, template Springwidget

But why just read, when you can play along for yourself? Do you use Feedburner? Are you ready to make a Widget? Okay — look at your watch. Time yourself. (If you’re a developer, go here for the advanced class.)
1. Login in to your Feedburner account
2. Click on ‘Edit My Feeds’
3. Click on ‘Publicize’
4. You’ll see a list of publicity options. Look for the one that says ‘Springwidgets Skin’ and click on it.
5. You’ll see a screen like the one below. Except there won’t be an image loaded in yet.

screen shot of springwidget

The first thing you’ll do is make an image the exact size they ask for, which is 480px by 75px. Your logo should be no wider than 150px and be centered in the middle. (When I first read that I thought they had the size wrong… But no. They really do want you to make it 480px wide. That is so the widget can be resized by anyone, and your nifty logo [at 150px.] will never be squeezed, stretched or otherwise abused!) So, have you got your 480px by 75px Logo image made? This isn’t the time to be fussy! Time’s awasting… You can always go back and fix it later.

Once you have your image made, upload it to your server. Then enter the image url in the Widget Logo URL box.

Click on the Preview Image and see if you like it. Let’s assume it’s perfect (remember you can always fix it later).

Now take another look at your watch. We’re almost done.

Click on the Activate button.

Voila! Your widget is made. It is reading your RSS Feed. It works. (And if it doesn’t, call Feedburner, not me!) It is a thing of beauty. Save it! Then run and show it to all your friends. Glory in the brilliance of it… But don’t forget to grab the code and insert it into your site. They work well in sidebars.

And if it took you longer than five minutes… well, what can I say? It was your first. But your next one will be done in three minutes, right?

So, now that you know how super easy these SpringWidgets are to make, let’s return to Michael and Derrick in Chicago. I called later that afternoon — and Michael had whipped off not ONE widget — but THREE! He was having lots of fun and already pushing the boundaries of what Springwidget can do. (He said it took him 7 minutes, but Michael, being a Designer is fussy…) You can read all about it here: The 5 Minute Widget Wisdom Project With Guest Franke James

Below are screenshots of two of Michael and Derrick’s Springwidgets — go to their sites to see them live. And of course, leave a comment — they will want to hear what you have to say about Widgets, particularly theirs! And if you really LOVE them, you can put them on your site, and stay connected to all their great content.

Business Blogging Tips: Sorles and Snell Business Blogging Tips: Sorles and Snell

Now, if you’ve been reading along and not actually trying your hand at widget-making, let me share two inspirational quotes on why you should get Widget Wisdom:

“If a website visitor sees a widget they like they can click a link and add it to their own site, or their desktop, or both. That’s an important innovation, and a useful one.”
Michael Arrington, TechCrunch

“I’ll go out on a limb and say that this is more important (in terms of content consumption / RSS adoption) than the new yahoo mail beta and/or IE.”
Don Loeb, VP FeedBurner

I absolutely agree with Michael and Don (clearly we see eye to eye on widgets). Now, I can’t get Widgets off my mind…

So, next week I’ll show you the creative fun we’re having with WidgetBox Widgets that will let you insert Flash images, and draw from a database to set up a daily schedule. But, sadly, they do take a little longer than five minutes… And you might need a talented programmer holding your hand. Fortunately, I’m married to one. But he doesn’t do anything for free…

One Reply to “Whipping off Widgets”

Leave a Reply