Widget You Like to Know

Enhance your online efforts by adding “widgets” to your website or blog.

By Biray Alsac, MS
Jan 19, 2010

For trainers trying to maintain their online social media presence through blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites, keeping content current and engaging is often a challenge. Whether it is as simple as updating your Twitter status or as involved as writing new blog posts every week, these efforts accumulate and can displace the time needed for clients. This article will explain how you can streamline these efforts and significantly improve the look of your site by incorporating “widgets” on blogs and websites.

 

A Web widget (simply referred to as “widget”) is a portable chunk of computer code (HTML, JavaScript™ or Adobe® Flash Player) that can be installed and executed within a HTML-based web page or blog. “It’s a little piece of magic from another website that you can add to your own website,” says Mike Bannan, the head of digital media for IDEA. Widgets can provide supplemental resources that add to a site’s content or enhance a trainer’s professional brand online. For instance, on-screen tools (e.g., live-event countdowns, digital clocks, interactive calculators) and online advertisements are among the more common widgets embedded on websites. However, there are thousands of free and unique widgets available to users. Read on to learn about the various kinds of widgets, how to maximize their use and which are best for health and fitness sites.

No Training Necessary

For those who never spent time learning web design or programming language, no need to worry. Most widgets come with the code needed to add to a website or blog. It is simply a matter of copying and pasting the code onto a Web page, then clicking and dragging the widget to where you want it displayed. The advantage to having widgets on your site is their potential to increase the number of visitors. “The more information you can offer [your visitors, the greater the] chance they will come back for more,” says Angie Schumacher, personal trainer and bootcamp instructor from Longmont, Colorado, who includes multiple widgets on her blog (http://fatburningtips4women.com). Below are descriptions of some of the more popular types of widgets:

Badges. A badge is like a digital bumper sticker and clicking on one sends the user to a corresponding website for more information. Badges can be used for displaying your membership with an organization (such as the IDEA Member badge–www.ideafit.com/personal-trainer-badges), announcing special accomplishments (e.g., “Top Fitness Blogger” award) or publicizing your support for an event or cause. Post a few badges on your blog to give viewers a quick insight into your professional affiliations.

Ad or Affiliate Widgets. Ad widgets are like virtual billboards on a Web page. Google’s AdSense (www.google.com/adsense) is a free widget that displays contextual ads based on the content of your website or blog. If you write about fitness, then the ads that are placed by Google will be relevant to fitness products and services. You receive a nominal fee every time someone clicks on these ads from your site. Affiliate widgets are linked to partnerships where purchases based on your recommendations earn you referral fees. This is a great widget for those who endorse various health and fitness products (check out Amazon’s list of affiliate widgets (https://widgets.amazon.com). Ad and affiliate widgets are easy ways to earn extra income for your business.

Tip Jars & Donations Buttons. Sites like PayPal (www.paypal.com) or Chipin (www.chipin.com) allow you to create “tip” or “donation” widgets. Visitors can click on these to make monetary contributions securely via your website. Promote fundraising efforts or bring attention to a cause by including these widgets on your page. Some nonprofit organizations may already have donation widgets available for use. Go to www1.networkforgood.com, click on “For Donors” to find donation widgets that support your cause.

Point-of-Contact Widgets. Many trainers now have profiles in multiple social networking sites to increase their points of contact with their audience. POC widgets inform viewers of the other websites where you can be reached. For instance, create a LinkedIn widget to send visitors to your extended professional profile. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace have similar widgets as well. These widgets are great for cross-promoting your professional brand. Check out the all-in-one “Show Yourself” widget at www.dbachrach.com/showyourself to highlight multiple profiles.

Interactive Widgets. Widgets that engage users with an online activity (e.g., calorie counters, BMI calculators or fitness quizzes) are great for keeping readers occupied on your site. Also, live chat widgets (e.g., www.meebo.com) or “Call-Me” buttons (e.g., Google Voice www.google.com/googlevoice/about.html) or Jaxtr www.jaxtr.com) also keep people on your site longer by enabling instant conversations via your website.

Searching for Interesting Widgets

Blogs are one of the best places to discover widgets that might be applicable to your business. All widgets have a “Get This Widget” link included so you can easily grab the code of the ones you like. Sites like Widgetbox™ (www.widgetbox.com) and Yahoo! Widgets (http://widgets.yahoo.com) offer a repository of free widgets; type keyword “fitness” to refine your search. For a nominal fee, you can customize your own widgets at KickApps™ (www.kickapps.com). This could prove to be a good marketing investment because you can share your widget code with other trainers and clients who may wish to put it on their blogs.

No More Fidgeting, Get to Widgeting

In order to meet the demands of the digital age, more personal trainers are getting online by connecting with clients and building their professional networks through websites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites. According to research done by Pew Internet & American Life Project, in 2008 61% of American adults looked online for health information (52% of these users looked online for exercise or fitness-related content). This is evidence that the online presence of fitness professionals is becoming more important than ever. By using widgets, you not only make your online efforts more efficient, but also enhance the look and relevance of your site so you can continue being an exceptional online resource for your clients.

8 Widgets for Your Health and Fitness Site

Below are eight health and fitness widgets that are proven resources for colleagues and clients who regularly visit your blog or website.

1. FitLink Widgets (www.fitlink.com/widgets)

FitLink has a handful of widgets that help site visitors calculate their BMI, find workout or activity partners, and locate a gym in their area.

2. Nutritional Widgets

Many nutrition widgets are database driven where the user types in a food item and receives the calorie breakdown (such as www.nutritiondata.com/tools/searchbox). However, Nourish Interactive has a series of games to make learning about nutrition fun (especially for kids). Test your skills with Pyramid Power, Bon Appetite Arcade, or Whack-a-Snack (go to www.nourishinteractive.com and click the “free widgets” button at the bottom of the page).

3. Event Countdown

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Biray Alsac, MS

Biray Alsac, MS, is the owner of FITTmaxx Institute, a consulting company for health organizations and fitness/wellness professionals interested in learning how to integrate Web-based tools and interactive technologies (exergames) into their programming. She holds a masterÔÇÖs degree in exercise and wellness.
Certification: ACE
Education provider for: ACE

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