If you’re new to building and managing websites, you need to get yourself familiar with widgets as soon as possible.
What’s a widget?
Simply put, it’s website component that adds features or functionality to your site. Widgets are embedded directly onto your site, but you don’t have to develop or code them on your own.
To install a widget on your website, it’s as simple as copying and pasting some code, which will be provided by the creator of the widget. There will usually be a sufficient set of instructions for how and where to install the code from your widget-provider.
Why do you need widgets on your website?
Here’s the thing. Websites can functionally operate without widgets. But I’m sure you’ve landed on websites and wondered how they were able to add so many cool features and functionality to their pages. In many instances, they probably used a widget.
Your website builders and content management systems will be somewhat limited. Widgets fill in all of the blanks that aren’t provided by those platforms.
Widgets come in all shapes and sizes. They range from clocks, to weather feeds, and translators. But depending on the type of website you have, adding a clock or weather icon to your site doesn’t really add much value to your visitors.
That’s what inspired me to write this guide. I’ve come up with a list of the top 10 widgets that add real value and functionality to improve your website.
Reservio is an online booking widget. So for those of you who run a business that takes appointments, it will enhance the experience of your website visitors.
Adding the Reservio booking button to your site is easier than having to take appointments over the phone. Plus, since all of your bookings can be handled online, your customers can schedule appointments at any time, even outside of your normal business hours.
Reservio syncs with the calendars that you’re already using, like Outlook, iCal, and Google Calendar.
It’s compatible with popular site builders and CMS platforms such as Wix, Webnode, Weebly, and WordPress.
With that said, if you’re a WordPress user and want more than just a widget for scheduling online reservations, you can check out my list of the best WordPress booking plugins.
If you want to drastically enhance the customer service experience on your website, you need to implement live chat.
The Smartsupp widget is one of the easiest ways to make this happen.
This is ideal for those of you who are selling online with an ecommerce site. Whether you’re selling products or services, Smartsupp makes it possible for your current and prospective customers to reach you with any questions they have.
Adding personalized communication methods to your website will ultimately increase your conversion rates in the long run.
According to a recent study, 77% of consumers won’t buy from sites that don’t offer live chat as a support option.
People that engage with a live chat representative on your website are worth over 4.5 times more than customers who don’t.
Live chat increases average order values by 10%. It also increases conversion rates by 40%.
Response times for live chat are also significantly faster than communication methods like email or phone support. Plus, live chat has the highest consumer satisfaction ratings.
So if you’re ready to add this feature to your website, just install the Smartsupp widget.
The Disqus widget is made for those of you who want to have more engaged website visitors, which is basically everyone.
If you have a blog on your website, it’s a great platform for you to share your thoughts, opinions, and give valuable information to your visitors. But that communication platform shouldn’t be a one-way street.
To increase engagement, you want your customers to share their opinions as well.
Adding Disqus to your site adds functionality to your blog comments. It also gives you added management tools for monitoring and responding to comments.
This widget is super easy to set up. Disqus even includes a video instruction guide for installing their widget.
You spend a ton of time creating content. But what happens after you publish it to your website?
Sure, in a perfect world all of your site traffic will come organically. But you and I both know that isn’t always the case. It’s crucial for you to find other ways to get people to land on your website.
One of the best ways to do this is by leveraging your existing website visitors. Encourage them to share your content with their friends, family, co-workers, and peers via social media.
Here’s the thing. People won’t necessarily go out of their way to do this unless you make it easy for them.
That’s where the AddThis widget comes into play.
You can connect to more than 200 social networks with the share buttons offered by the AddThis widget. All of the buttons are mobile-friendly and fully customizable.
Formatting for the share buttons include:
- Floating bar
- Image sharing
These options ensure that no matter what type of website design you have, you’ll be able to seamlessly integrate these share buttons without it feeling too intrusive for your visitors.
Now people can share your content on social media with just one click, which will ultimately increase awareness and drive more traffic to your website.
In the past, I’ve explained how to use surveys to make more money for your business.
With widgets like Survio, this process has become easier than ever before. You can simply create a new survey in just a few minutes and integrate it into your website with the Survio widget.
It’s a clean and professional way to gather more information from your website visitors.
Premium surveys are mobile-friendly, safe, come with email support, and SSL. You’ll also be able to evaluate the responses with real-time results.
They have hundreds of survey templates and examples for you to choose from. Here are just a handful of examples to give you an idea of how extensive the options:
- Brand awareness
- Buying experience
- Service cancelation
- Tech support
- Event planning
- Team building
- Cosmetics and beauty salon
- Hotel guest
- Shipping service
The list goes on and on. So no matter what type of business or website you have, you’ll be able to find a template that’s suitable for your survey needs.
Collecting email addresses and growing your email list needs to be a priority for all websites. This statement holds true for blogs, personal sites, ecommerce companies, SaaS, and really any time of site that you an imagine.
In order to effectively collect emails from website visitors, you need to have signup forms strategically placed throughout your landing pages.
If you’re using MailChimp for email marketing services, then the MailChimp signup widget is an absolute must-have for your website.
It’s as simple as copying and pasting the signup form code into your site’s HTML wherever you want the widget to appear.
MailChimp offers four types of forms for you to choose from:
After you choose the type of form, you can customize the title, form fields, and enable features like re-CAPTCHA to eliminate spam signups.
These widgets are compatible with platforms like WordPress, Jimdo, Webs, Weebly, Yola, Blogger, and Blogspot.
GetResponse is another popular marketing software for email. But with that said, it also has features and benefits that go beyond email marketing.
The widgets offered by GetResponse correspond with some of the features that they offer.
For example, they have a standard subscribe widget, similar to the one we just discussed from MailChimp. It’s an effective way to get more email subscribers with an opt-in form.
But GetResponse also has a contact widget, which is used for creating contact forms that are fully customizable.
This is a great way for your website visitors to communicate with you and provide feedback.
In addition to the subscribe and contact widgets, GetResponse also has a survey widget that can be used for a wide range of functions.
- Exit surveys
- Customer satisfaction
- Market research
You can also use your surveys to collect email addresses. The widget can integrate with other platforms like MailChimp, Mailer, and HubSpot. So they don’t force you to use their email marketing software if you’re already using another provider.
Gumroad is made for those of you who are using your website to sell a digital product or service.
I wouldn’t recommend it for full-fledged ecommerce sites. In those instances, you’ll definitely want to be using an ecommerce platform.
But for example, if you run a blog and want to sell an ebook, you can easily use the Gumroad widget to make that happen. It’s extremely simple to install.
All I did was type “Buy From Quick Sprout” into the form field and the button automatically changed. Then you can decide if you want to auto-trigger the payment form and allow single-product purchases.
After that, the code is automatically generated based on your settings. Then it’s just a matter of copying and pasting it into your website.
Processing payments with this widget will cost you 3.5% + $0.30 per transaction.
That pricing is actually pretty competitive if you compare it to the best payment methods for your ecommerce site. But again, if you’re just selling one digital product, you don’t necessarily need to go through all the steps of setting up an ecommerce website.
Just install the Gumroad widget instead.
How can your website visitors find what they’re looking for? I’m sure you have a menu and sitemap that are easy to follow, but navigating that way isn’t always user-friendly.
Adding a search bar widget like Swiftype is a solution to this problem.
Industry giants like CBS, AOL, BMW, AT&T, and Samsung are using this widget to add search functionality to their websites.
The way that this widget works is simple.
All you need to do is enter the address of your website, and Swiftype will index all of the content. Then it will essentially create a real-time search engine that’s specific to everything on your site.
No coding is required to operate this widget. But if you’re a developer, Swiftype has an API available to give you added control.
The widget can autocomplete searches based on what users start typing. It will also refine the search based on things like price, location, date, or type of content.
Swiftype searches are intelligent, so you’ll benefit from spellcheck, stemming, bigram matching, phrase matching, and synonyms. All of this ensures that your website visitors are seeing as many relevant results as possible.
Wufoo is an online form-building widget.
It allows you to create surveys, invitations, contact forms, registrations, and payment information.
All you need to do is create a form using their form builder. Then embed it on your website. Wufoo will email or text you whenever the data from your forms become available. You also have the option to set up real-time analytics.
There are more than 400 form templates for you to choose from. You can also set custom rules and create dynamic visualizations with charts and graphs.
Adding a widget to your site can truly take it to the next level.
You can benefit from enhanced functionality and professionalism while improving the user experience simultaneously.
There are more widgets out there than I can count. But these 10 are my favorite. They are flexible, functional, and can be used on a wide range of different websites.
I tried to make sure I included something for everyone on here. So I’m confident that you’ll find the widget that you’re looking for on this list.