The Wonderful World of Widgets

Content From: Michelle Samplin-Salgado, Account Director, Prochilo HealthPublished: May 26, 20093 min read

WidgetsExit Disclaimer. GadgetsExit Disclaimer. Call them what you’d like, but there is definitely a lot of buzz around these small applications that you can embed in a social network site, blog, or website. Our Federal colleagues have developed salmonella, flu, and HIV test widgets. At, we’re starting to use widgets, too. We used a widget to ask for your suggestions for our National HIV Testing Day Initiative. And we’re working with the CDC to develop a widget for National HIV Testing Day that will highlight stories of people who have taken an HIV test.

Some widgets allow you to embed a photo or video viewer, conduct polls, and solicit donations. Others allow you to incorporate news or headlines from other websites. Widgets can deliver dynamic content. In other words, if you have a photo or news widget, once you update the information going in to the widget everyone who has the widget will automatically receive the updated information.

Widgets can be a great way to share information and repurpose content. Some ways to use widgets in response to HIV include to:

  • Share content from your blog or website about HIV prevention, testing, treatment, or research.
  • Share photos or videos from HIV-related events and activities, like an AIDS walk or benefit.
  • Conduct polls or surveys about your HIV services.
  • Support and track HIV-related fundraising efforts.

I wanted to learn more about how people are using or thinking about using widgets in the HIV community, so I spoke with National Minority AIDS Council’sExit Disclaimer (NMAC) Circe LeCompte and AIDS Vancouver’sExit Disclaimer Rachel Thompson (we found Rachel on Twitter, an interactive dictionary about HIV and AIDS, “to start a dialogue and have people join in the conversation about HIV, breaking any myths and stereotypes out there, and sending out reliable, continuously-updating information.” AIDS service organizations (ASOs) that want HIV updates delivered to them can install HIV+AIDS Loop to their desktops, iGoogleExit Disclaimer, Facebook, or wherever else they spend time online. Rachel’s advice for ASOs about using widgets is to “start with good information and a specific audience in mind, and then test the tool with that audience over and over, starting from paper prototype drawings and early mockups and even after you’ve launched.”

NMAC’s Circe shared that they would like to develop a widget to “help make our relationships with our constituents—faith- and community-based organizations delivering HIV/AIDS services in communities of color—more immediate, and assist in communicating key information about upcoming programs, services and other news more efficiently and effectively.” In addition to providing information, NMAC hopes the widget will help their constituents become more familiar with new media tools. “Right now, there is a bit of disconnect between how our constituents communicate with clients and how their clients access information,” Circe told us.

Want to learn more about widgets?

You can develop your own widget or copy the code from an existing widget. There are many free or inexpensive services that provide tools to create your own widget. Some examples include Clearspring and GigyaExit Disclaimer. WidgetboxExit Disclaimer, SproutExit Disclaimer and iWidgetsExit Disclaimer can help you develop and distribute your widget. Many of them provide metrics about how many people are using your widget. This can provide insight into who is interested in your content and what information they find valuable.

Other widget resources include:

Some HIV and public health widget examples include:

Have a widget? Thinking about creating one? Let us know!