Serif in Education

Web uses for Widgets

In computing, a widget is a “generic term for a bit of self-contained code that displays a program, or a piece of a program, that is also (usually) a shortcut to a larger application.” 

We see, use and experience widgets every day on website pages, on our computer desktop and on our smartphones. Widgets can be used on your computer desktop (for example, to show you the current time, or how long you have left of your lessons), or widgets can be installed onto a web page.

They occupy a portion of a web page and turn the section into “something useful” from information taken from other websites and displayed in the same position on the page.

But although many of us have experienced widgets, not so many of us understand or have ever given much thought into how great widgets are, or how they improve or enhance our lives or experience.

Widgets are a visually appealing and engaging way to enhance your online communication. Text on websites is important but research shows that text online containing relevant images have 94% more total views than text without images, on average.  By using images, symbols or widgets alongside your text you can get your message across more effectively to a higher number of people. 

As part of the computing Key Stage 3 & 4 curriculum, pupils are asked to undertake creative projects that involve selecting, using and combining multiple applications, preferably across a range of devices to achieve challenging goals. The computing curriculum also requires pupils to collect and analyse data, as well as meet the needs of known users. 

Widgets can be used to help students personalise website pages and make them more dynamic for a user, for example, a link to a twitter feed so people can see what people have been posting, or to add value and create a customer experience on your website. For example, they may wish to include a widget showing the temperature currently in Majorca on your Majorca holiday deals site or even a flight arrivals widget to enhance their page and make it specific to the user.

Serif have developed easy to use software to help introduce students in Key Stage 3 & 4 to tools that can create widgets and help imbed them into websites designed by the student.

Some examples of how they can do this are below:

Social networking widgets: 

Simply by dragging and dropping a social object from the design studio students can set up live feed widgets to their webpage.  The only other thing the need to do is specify their linked social media page or account. This enables people to like or follow their social media pages (Twitter, Facebook, Google+). These are simple ways that students can create a “buzz” about their product or service and help boost their search ranking.

Banners or Sliders: 

With the editor students can make eye catching and interactive widgets with customised content.  This allows use of images and text and supports interactive content like forms and videos.   

For more advanced users, or for a more difficult project, students can add elements of code to their sites.  As well as viewing their sites’ HTML and CSS, students into coding can now convert objects to HTML fragments to add and edit code to images, forms and more. Widgets can be designed in flash or by producing code and then imported into the student’s website.

Testing websites across multiple devices:

With WebPlus X8, students can not only design their websites but test their websites across multiple devices, to ensure their user experience is second to none.

Teachers can also access the Serif Design Suite free teacher resources, which give guidance on how to teach and create a multimedia website.  This also has guidance on how to create flash banners, embed videos and build rollover images in WebPlus X8 and can be found here:

From creating charity badges (to encourage people to donate to your chosen cause) to creating a gift registry to show people what you want for your upcoming wedding or birthday, there is a handy widget for us all!