Create 'Mini-Web Sites' to Embed into Your Site

In case you didn't know, 2007 is the year of the widget.

In that vein, I recently discovered Leafletter — a service that enables you to create Flash-based 'mini-web sites' and embed them into your site, blog or (here's where the money is) MySpace page.

Leafletter calls its widgets (or 'Leaflets') mini-web sites; however, although you can incorporate text, I can see most people using them to present images in the form of an interactive slideshow.

For example, here's how you might present a portfolio of some sort:

I've only created one page in the example, but using the Flash creation tool you can create as many pages as you want for each widget. You can also organize each page in one of 31 different layouts.

Check out the demo to see how easy it is to create your own 'Leaflet'.

I'm impressed by the technology behind Leafletter. I'm not sure that it's a service that I would use, but I would imagine it has considerable potential for people who don't like to roll their own code.

As you'll see if you go to the site, it's a pretty early beta though. There's no help information, or FAQs, for instance.

There are also a number of areas where things could be improved.

It would be useful to choose your own background colors for each area of the widget rather than be limited to the preset list.

In addition, the informational text for each image is hard to read because the overlay is too transparent. Of course, it would be nicer if this could be set manually.

Navigating around the 'Leaflet' is a bit 'click and guess'. I assume that it's been well tested with users but I wasn't sure initially what clicking on something would do.

You can create 'springboard images' which are basically thumbnails which link to a larger version of the image. Well, I had no idea what a 'springboard' image was and had to refer back to the demo to find out.

Why not just call it a 'thumbnail' or a 'linked image' or have some help information to make things clearer?

Here's a suggestion — it would be cool if they could incorporate Thickbox functionality in some way so that you could pop-up larger versions of each image.

I was also surprised by the lack of 'real-world' examples provided on the Leafletter site. When you first arrive at the site, it's not immediately clear what you can do with the service and the example provided is pretty lame.

With a gazillion new Web 2.0 widgets being introduced each month, you need to give prospective users a reason to use yours and a quick idea of all the things they can do with your service.

The demo doesn't help either in this regard. 37 Signals shows how to do this right with a list of examples for their Backpack product.

Posted on: January 8, 2007 | No comments

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