The Newness is Here!
November 16th, 2007
A lot’s happened in Widgetland since we first launched the widgets.yahoo.com site more than 2 years ago. Of course we’ve shipped a couple major versions of Yahoo! Widgets, and we’ve improved the site with additions like our Widget badges and the in-page installer. But in that same time, the catalog of Widgets in the Yahoo! Widget Gallery has more than doubled. And to be totally frank, our tools for finding Widgets haven’t quite kept up.
Today, we’re very proud to reveal the fruits of months of hard work and kick-off a new era for Yahoo! Widgets with the brand-spanking-new widgets.yahoo.com. Much of the work in this release went into rebuilding (almost) the entire site from the ground up on top of Yahoo!’s powerful search, community, and personalization platforms. What that means to you is this is just the beginning — we have laid a solid foundation on which we can more rapidly innovate and deliver new features to improve your Yahoo! Widgets experience. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of cool things for you to start enjoying today. Far from it, we think the new site is packed with quite a bit of awesome. So, here’s a little primer to get you started.
The first thing you will likely notice is the new look. With the most recent update of the Yahoo! Weather Widget a few months back, we began exploring a visual refresh across our entire product suite. You’ll continue to see updated looks in other Yahoo! Widgets products with releases over the next few months.
The Widget Gallery is now the central point of focus for the site, and we’ve simplified the navigation into a section for those looking to “Find Widgets” and one for those looking to “Create Widgets.” The reason we’ve focussed on the Gallery is simple: the Yahoo! Widgets experience should be about connecting people with the 4,300+ Widgets in our Gallery and the authors who created them. With our Install-o-Matic technology first deployed in Yahoo! Widgets 4, people can focus on finding the Widget they want without having to worry about any required components.
The front page of the Gallery now makes it easy to check-out the top-rated, most-downloaded, and newest Widgets at a glance. You can also keep up to date on what’s happening in those categories or others by subscribing to our new RSS feeds on the front page and on all search results pages. And we have a new Widget Spotlight that now features 5 Widgets at a time and does cool slidey things.
In order to be officially Web 2.0 (or are we up to 3.0 at this point?) compliant, we’ve migrated our old category system over to tags. The top tags can be browsed from the Gallery front page. And we surface related Widgets to you on the search results and Widget detail pages via common tags. Currently, tags are editorially assigned. But, we plan to open this up to tagging by Widget authors and consumers in the future.
For those of you who know exactly what you want, don’t worry, we didn’t forget about search (as evidenced by that big honkin’ search box on the Gallery front page). As part of the total overhaul of the site, we took advantage of the latest technology from our friends in Yahoo! Search to make Widget searches waaaaaaay faster and more relevant. We also added the ability to sort your search results by relevance, number of downloads, ratings, or date of last update.
Once you find the Widget you’re interested in, there’s now more information about it and more ways to show your love (or not). We’ve switched over to Yahoo!-standard ratings (5-stars, but don’t worry we made sure to map all the existing 4-star ratings to the new scale) and reviews, which, among other things, lets you sort reviews by how helpful other people have found them. And we also added our own little Widgety twist with the new “Beautiful,” “Useful,” “Fun” ratings — you can cast one vote in each category, and the one with the most votes shows up below the Widget’s star rating. It’s also now easier to share the Widgets you love by IM, email, or by adding a Widget badge to your own web page.
For Widget authors, the one page that was our “Widgets Workshop” has been expanded to become the “Create Widgets” section of the site. In this release, we’ve added more content to help Widget authors with submitting and promoting their Widgets. And we have exciting plans to expand this section into *the* destination for Widget authors to build and manage their Yahoo! Widgets.
That covers some of the highlights for the initial release, and there’s more info on our What’s New page. There are also a couple of other notable changes:
Yes, there are now ads. In addition to the obvious reasons for adding advertisements in general, we actually believe the new graphical ad on the front page and the sponsored links on the search results pages will prove to be valuable tools for Widget authors and thus ultimately consumers as well. One of our top requests from Widget authors has been for a better way to promote their Widgets to the right audiences, and now we’re opening that up in a more systematic way. If you’re interested in learning more, check out the new Promote Widgets page. From a consumer standpoint, the advertising placements are clearly marked and our goal is to make them as relevant as possible. There’s a feedback link on the ad on the front page, so please let us know how you think we’re doing.
If you’re reading this (and not in an RSS reader), you will have likely noticed that nothing has actually changed on this page. This blog and the Forums were on separate systems than the rest of the site. And in the interest of focusing all of our effort on improving core functionality, we’ve decided to maintain that split for now. We do plan to eventually migrate both sections to new platforms, but not for a little while still.
As of today, Widget authors will need to link their existing Widget Gallery accounts with a valid Yahoo! ID in order to manage their existing Widgets or submit new ones. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but it was truly a necessity. The primary benefit of Yahoo! ID based author identities is the ability to offer more robust author profiles going forward, which we believe will help build stronger connections between consumers and the authors of the Widgets they love. To be clear, there is no forced migration to Yahoo! ID author accounts if you don’t wish to modify your existing Widgets or submit new ones. But those authors who do link their existing Widgets to a Yahoo! ID will be able to customize how they show up in the Gallery, including adding a picture to their author identity. For more information on author accounts, please check out our Help section and join the conversation in the Forums.
That should be more than enough to get you started, so what are you waiting for? Hop over to the new widgets.yahoo.com and start checking out the new hotness. We really put a lot into this, and sincerely hope you’re as excited about it as we are. And as I mentioned, this is only the beginning — keep checking back for more improvements in the weeks and months to come. We’re also very eager to hear what you think (the good *and* the bad) to help us make the new site even better, so please do make use of the Suggestions link at the bottom of every page.
Thanks, and enjoy!
- the entire Yahoo! Widgets team
P.S. The launch required some DNS changes, so it may take a few days for everyone to see the new site. We apologize for any funky behavior between now and then.