Nick from SocialTimes had an interesting post today on the future of widgets on Facebook. His conclusion – Widgets are dead on Facebook. Well, let’s think about that…
Since the new Facebook profile was released, we have gotten a ton of inbound inquiry from customers asking us a simple question – what are the implications of this new design? From my interaction with users, they are not exactly thrilled with the new design. Even the terminator seems disenchanted. It seems that these users are not alone.
Developers that created social applications have also felt the hit. In particular, those developers that have applications that were dependent on badges, or widgets, on the profile page have been hit extremely badly. Nick was one of those developers whose traffic tanked because of the new design. I would not be shocked if many others felt the pinch given that the meteoric successes on Facebook were early on and assumed that the profile was a central part of their design.
So is everything lost? Are widgets dead on FB? Nah.
1. The new profile is focused on a feed-centric design. For publishers and developers, getting into that feed in a real way is key as it is the new center-stage. As it happens, one way to get into feeds is with – you guessed it – widgets. For example, NBC’s Tiny Fey’s now famous Saturday Night Live skit made it’s way to thousands and thousands of users via a Clearspring-powered video player. The more users that post into their feeds, the greater viral distribution the widget receives. Ultimately, the widget will get ‘worked-out’ of the system, but the ability for the widget to virally spread is clear.
2. The relative prevalence of the ‘Boxes Tab’ to the other application access mechanisms gives widgets (boxes) greater prominence relative to the canvas page and makes Facebook’s application management interface much more akin to start pages like iGoogle, or Netvibes – classic widget repositories.
So, are widgets dead on FB? No. Applications that depended on a consistent profile presence like Bumper Sticker, or the Bush Countdown Clock are definitely impacted. But it seems that amidst the hype around apps, old reliable (widgets) are here to the rescue.