What is a widget anyway?

Although people use the term "widget" to describe a few different types of site functionality, there is actually one standard definition of a widget. A widget is a small application that can be installed and executed within a webpage by an end user. This allows the end user to utilize the program without having to download anything.

In the LawHelp context, a widget pulls content from one part of a site to another. A widget can aggregate information, provide a curated list of information, or provide one piece of information in its entirety, but the basic function is the same- to dynamically pull information into a page, from another part of your site or another site entirely.

A widget by any other name

Where it gets confusing is in our use of language.

Sometimes, people will use the term 'widget' to refer to an actual application, sometimes people use it to describe the code that embeds a widget onto your site and sometimes people use it to refer to the space where a widget lives.

For instance, you may hear the phrase "Home Page Widget" used in connection to LH3. This is a bit of a misnomer. Your LH3 side has CKEditors in the body of the home page, and on the right hand side of the site. These are not, strictly speaking, widgets because they may not contain a web application. Most commonly they are used to embed site badges or buttons, or just for plain text that may link to other parts of your site. You can also designate a content page to display a dynamic list of content on your homepage in the side bar or the body of your page. This is referred to as a "content page widget".

What you will find here

The goal of this document is to provide a one stop explanation of the variety of widgets used on the LH3 platform. Currently we support the following types of widgets:

  • LHI Widgets- This allows users to interact with a full LHI Interview while staying on the page it is embedded in. This feature is also available to all statewide
  • probono.net content and calendar widgets - If enable on a probono.net site, you can generate an embeddable probono.net Calendar or New Cases tool widget for an external site.
  • External Widgets- This feature allows admins to create a curated set of content to appear in a widget on another agencies site. Admins define the parameters of the type of content they want displayed, and generate an embed code they can provide to the other agency's admin. Once that admin embeds this code, information from the LH3 site will dynamically pull into the third party website.
  • Content Widget- This feature displays the list of resources or organizations on a specific content page in a widget on your site's right hand navigation bar, home page or mini portal.
  • Home Page Widget- This feature allows administrators to display text, pictures, videos and other content below the topics table on the homepage.
  • Side Bar Widget- This feature allows administrators to display text, pictures, videos and other content on the right hand side bar of their site.

Because the embed process is substantially similar for each widget that needs embedding, there is a section describing this process specifically. The specifics of each widget is addressed separate sections. There is also an FAQ and Best Practices section, that will address some of the common issues surfaces with each feature. Finally, there are press kits for each feature, including a Facebook status update, Tweet and a blog article to help you publicize all the work you do on the LH3 platform.