Beyond Widgets: Easy Ways for Organizations to Build Their Own Mini-Apps

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Facilitated by Ryan Ozimek, PICnet

Widgets are everywhere these days, but they're not being leveraged by nonprofits as much as they might. Ryan will talk about “mini-apps” and other incremental approaches nonprofits can use to build out their online toolsets.


What's a widget? Why Widgets

  • You can keep users on your own site;
  • Easy to embed information;
  • Increase interactivity;
  • deliver complex features more easily;
  • keep up with dynamic information;
  • meta-widgets can combine data

CMS Agnostic

Pushing data out to supporter sites;

Challenges and Warnings

Know when you're giving up control; data out of sync; multiple data stores (esp. with donation widgets)

you are at the hosts mercy (they can change their system)

harder to customize / limitations

security concerns; spoofing

reliability of data sources & latency; privacy and third parties; transparency about who your users are sharing data with

Barriers to entry (signing in has high drop off rates)

Accessibility compliance (508 compliance) -- a lot of widgets, especially Flash based widgets, aren't accessible and do lock people out;

Share Best Practices

Know when you want the widget and when you should use the API to develop your own tool that hooks to the app.

Because we can, should we? -- the fact that you can doesn't mean you should

Tracking data is important to know how people use and access it. You want to know what people are doing in your widget; where is that click counted?

Definitive examples

Capture User Data

Groundspring; Constant Contact -- ; offer sign up widgets

Google Analytics

CRM Forms

  • Sales force
  • CiviCRM --- in your CMS
  • DIA -- templated

Groundspring

Donation Tools

Tracking payments towards a goal

  • via a widget, directly with CC#s (s-c-a-r-y)
  • choose the value of donation within a widget and push to an https page to add credit card info
    • (donations do better if there is a drop-down)
  • would a "pledge" widget be easier if you can follow up on the pledge? (accounting gets complex for long-term pledges)

Push information out

Display Widgets

Widgets can display information

  • Maplight -- industry contributions to legislators, by legislator or by industry;
  • RSS feeds -- stories you've tagged in an RSS reader
  • RSS feeds -- stories you've produced
  • Stories in Facebook (more RSS)
  • Industry feeds; widgets display a particular tag;

More complex Widgets

  • carbon footprint calculations
  • sprout builder -- build animations with uploaded photos (the chip-in guys)
    • for example NTEN registration widget that you can embed on your site
    • can do cut and paste RSS feeds
  • lets you build content and distribute it to multiple sites;

Dropping into Facebook; MySpace-- it is hard to get info out of the sites but you can push info in; Open Social -- Google app that will connect social networks

Specific Data Implications and Integration