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What a good widget looks like

For the uninitiated, a widget is a piece of a website that can be integrated into another website, blog, social network and often onto a computer desktops. Widgets are a great way to drive traffic to a site by providing continually updated links in a place where the user is more likely to see them. Like RSS, users can access content without actually having to navigate to a site to check for updates. Click here for a more detailed primer on the technology behind widgets.

There widgets for everything on the web, including news. Here are some of the best.

NBC Nightly News

The Nightly News widget, adorned with a photo of news anchor Brian Williams and available through Yahoo! Widgets, pulls stories through the site’s RSS feed.

CNN

CNN’s podcast widget makes the audio shows available instantly and provides a link for downloading

Yourstreet

Yourstreet’s news widget is customizable: users can input their zip code and receive news from a variety of local sources.

MSNBC

The NewsScroller is the word in customized news widgets. Users can set the type of news they want, the colors that it appears in, expandable story items and more.

delawareonline

Delaware has a number of widgets available, but the standout is its video widget that makes the online news site’s video content embeddable in any site or blog.

WMBB

At last check, Hurricane Fay hadn’t made its way to the Florida panhandle, but if it does, or if any storm system should hit the area, anyone with this widget will be the first to know.

The clear winner when it comes to widgets is National Geographic. The site offers 11 different widgets for everything from the Photo of the Day to a U2 widget.

Photo of the Day Widget

Daily News Widget

Place of the Week Widget

The cream of the crop is the Mysteries of the Ancient World Game widget which does what every good widget should do: it encourages interactivity by providing content (in this case a game) that the user would be interested in; it has a stellar and exemplary design that separates it from other online clutter; and it promotes brand identity.

You’ve seen some exemplary widgets, now check out this post to find out how a good widget gets made.

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