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Beyond Twitter and Facebook: integrating other social elements 2 May 2010

Posted by Not JCVD in Applications, Design.
Tags: , ,

Facebook and Twitter icons are two elements websites can integrate to increase their social capabilities, but many forget that these giants are not the only features available. I was quite impressed by what I found while working on Assignment 2 in the unlikeliest of places: government websites.

Widgets: are pieces of code containing dynamic content that are embedded from one website to another; the FDA has widgets in the Pets section of their site. If you are a blogger and a pet fancier, these widgets can make it easy to get information about pet health to your readers. If you are the FDA, you spread your message and encourage visits to your site.

Pet Health and Safety Widget

Pet Health and Safety Widget. Flash Player 9 is required.
Pet Health and Safety Widget.
Flash Player 9 is required.

Promoting the RSS feed: One of the advantages of blogging over other media is RSS, meaning readers can subscribe to your feed and get access to your new blog posts as soon as they’re live. Many times, RSS feeds are hidden at the bottom of webpages, though some feature them in the side bar with a little orange icon that says “subscribe”:

NASA goes even further by including RSS on a drop-down menu on the top information bar. However, RSS adoption for whatever reason remains low– it was roughly 11% in 2008. My guess as a former non-RSS subscriber is that the reason is two-fold: a) people do not know what RSS is and b) people don’t know how to use it. If you are one of those people, this article might help.

Podcasts: I don’t know who would subscribe to a podcast from the FDA (probably doctors and people in the pharmaceutical industry), but there must be enough demand for them to create and distribute them. Podcasts, like blogs, create feeds that magically appear in your reader (in this case, iTunes) whenever a new episode is released. They can be amazing ways to share information with listeners on the go.

So, something to think about when analyzing a website’s social elements.



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