The Future of Widgets on Facebook: Dead

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When Facebook released their platform last year, the company generated more buzz in the Valley since Google went public. Thousands of developers flocked to their platform and now more than 40,000 applications have been built. Many of the early applications were widgets and one application in particular, Bumper Sticker, attracted over 12 million installs and was reaching more than 1.5 million active daily users at one point.

As a joke I created the Bush Countdown Clock when the platform launched and amazingly I attracted close to 50,000 users. While the application was nothing more than a simple flash badge, it helped a lot of people express themselves. Expression is not Facebook’s purpose though, sharing is. Widgets or badges that help users express their personal beliefs, ideals, and personality are now harder to find with the new design.

Thanks to the redesign all the badges which were “cluttering” the profile have been moved to a “Boxes” tab which most people don’t visit apparently. When the new profile was first rolled out, the traffic to my application actually jumped a little but oddly enough on September 11th, things took a turn for the worse. I’m not sure what happened but my guess is that a lot of the profiles started to get shifted over.

While many users still don’t like the new design (including close to 194,000 people who’ve signed a petition requesting that Facebook put back the old design), the decision to switch appears to be final. The implication is shown in the chart below which illustrates the dramatic drop in traffic. Ultimately my application has been cut by more than 60 percent.

While my application was only build as a joke some applications were attracting hundreds of thousands of daily users. My application was completely a widget though and provided practically no interactive substance. Other applications which actually provide users with a valuable experience in addition to help them share information appear to have survived the shift over to the new design.

It’s clear though that widgets have not survived the shift over and my guess is that within a matter of weeks we will see most top-performing widget applications practically disappear.

Publish date: September 30, 2008 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT