| Web widgets have been around for years, but have really become popular with the advent of MySpace, Facebook, Bebo and other social networking sites. By adding a bit of html code to a page, fresh content appears daily, or games can be played from your web site, or interactivity with readers can be increased through polls, feedback forms, and the like.One of the biggest advantages of web-based news sites over traditional newspapers is the ability to interact with readers.
As a high school media team, we’d love to have the same capabilities as CNN, the New York Times, CBS News, and other such news organizations, but realistically, that won’t happen. We operate on a shoestring budget while they have full-time web developers who create colorful interactive election maps and other infographics that readers can use to learn more about the news.
What we can do, however, is make use of widgets developed by people who are willing to share what they’ve come up with and who provide content free of charge.
Here are some of our favorite widgets, gadgets and gizmos that we use in our online edition:
- Polls and surveys. Let your web readers participate in your story by telling you what they think. We like Poll Daddy, but there are several poll widgets available for free.
- Weather widget. What news site doesn’t offer a weather report? Weather.ibegin.com, wunderground.com and weather.com, as well as other sites, offer customizable weather reports.
- News widgets. Bring in syndicated news which is updated regularly
- Scrolling text. A scrolling text box is great for breaking news or important announcements.