Much like DNA is made up of tiny building blocks that are essential to our very existence, widgets bring portals to life in a way that no other technology can. Gartner estimated that by 2015 at least 25% of new enterprise portal projects will be built with widgets, far surpassing the amount of portals adopting the old component model using portlets. What made Gartner make such a bold statement? Put simply, widgets are faster to build, easier to maintain and update, and can be used just about everywhere. But if we deep dig even a little bit deeper, there are 5 main reasons why widgets will rock your customer’s digital experience, and they all have to do with the ultimate success of your portal project:
1. Widgets can do everything portlets can do – only better
2. Widgets cost less: Less time, less resource, less budget
Today, there are many more front-end developers than there are engineers who specialize in a specific server language. Since widgets are built using front-end technologies, they are a lot easier to build, they take far less time to develop and implement and can be easily de-bugged or updated, and don’t require the costly services of a specialist engineer. Development cycle is reduced to weeks rather than months, and small changes will take less than a day rather than weeks.
3. Widgets get along with everyone
Widgets are easy going; they’ll talk to anyone as long as there’s web-based interface involved. This means they can easily get the information they need from anywhere, your applications (whether it is banking or hotel booking system) or any other 3rd party on the web, like a weather app or news website. Widgets employ REST-oriented standards, which are simple, standard-based, and can use HTTP cache and proxy servers to handle high loads.
4. A bunch of widgets can give any app a run for its money
Widgets love to mix and match; they can combine functionality and even house each other to deliver the same type of rich experience as any of the rich web or mobile app. After all, widgets are really just mini, autonomous apps. Widgets are much easier to build than apps as not all functionality has to designed from the ground up in a specific language, because remember; widgets can easily talk to 3rd parties and pull the functionality they need.
5. Write Once, Run Everywhere
If Apple hadn’t invented the smartphone then a widget probably would have. Their use of RESTful services, which have far less overheads like headers and other SOAP elements, makes them ideally suited to smaller devices and uniquely responsive. In fact, they love being mobile so much they’ll even dress-up to get into the various app stores. Seriously though, widgets can bypass the need to spend valuable resources building specific apps with each SDK. You just build the app, using widgets, then wrap it an OS specific container and voila – you’ve got your app in every app store, and you only had to build it once!
For a a deeper dive into the the difference between portlets and widgets, read our comparison. If you’d like to know how a lean portal leverages the power of widgets to optimize the customer experience, download the white paper.