We’re calling out social media widgets in web design by asking what they are, what they achieve, and whether they’re worth risking otherwise good UX design.

Are social media widgets ugly?

What are social media widgets?

Social media widgets are third-party widgets that some time ago rapidly became part of web build and development and, since then, have never really gone away.

These third-party social media widgets are not the simple and subtle clickable icons we see on many websites, and which we at Cultrix are all in favour of.

The widgets we are talking about are larger than these.

These much bigger, more obvious social media ‘link boxes’ are widgets that are small pieces of code commonly placed on a website to let people interact, while on your website, with the social media site they represent.

For example, browsers have the ability to click on the Facebook widget on your site, so they can register a ‘like’ for it. And, if you have the TripAdvisor widget, browsers are able to see how many reviews you have on TripAdvisor, and click through to TripAdvisor to leave a review themselves.

What value do social media widgets add?

Before you rush headlong into getting every social media widget there is installed on your site, it’s worth asking yourself what value these will actually add for you.

If your browser wanted to see how many likes on Facebook you have, they can easily look you up, by clicking a Facebook icon instead. And if they are on Facebook already, and deem it important, will probably have already looked you up if it’s so important to them. Similarly, with Trip Advisor.

What do you want your browsers to do?

We’ll follow this with another question: do you want browsers to be distracted by interacting with your social media? Or do you want them to look at your website and information about your products and services, and respond to a call to action?

What do ‘likes’ actually mean?

While we all seem to be conditioned to get as many likes as possible on all channels, we would question what these actually mean to potential customers, and whether this information needs to be on your website at all.

Does it inspire you to deal with a company because they have 110 likes, over another that has 100 likes? Remember that these are likes for a reason you’ll never get to know, and tells you nothing at all specific about their service.

Reviews are better than likes

Reviews are real interaction from a real person, usually about a specific way they’ve been delighted. Reviews are great to have on your website, and really inspire confidence in browsers. Plus, you don’t need an obtrusive widget to achieve that, just an API built to pull in the reviews from wherever you need them from.

Who do the widgets benefits?

Since the widgets are essentially installing a mini version of the social media platform on your website, as a means of getting interactions from browsers, without them actually being on the platform, then they actually just benefit the platform.

When it comes to Facebook, the platform is able to track the browser via their interaction through the widget.

But even though there may be no interaction through the widget, it is still distracting and calling attention away from your brand; lessening the experience the browser could otherwise have of your brand.

Widgets don’t look great

We realise we are unpopular for saying it, but we strongly believe social media widgets intrude on the design of a good-looking website.

Good UX design is how you turn browsers into customers, as well as up your SERPs ranking, do you want to risk it all for showing likes?