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Our web application enables users to configure the front page with different, what we developers call, 'widgets'. To start this configuration process, the user needs to click an 'Add Widget' button.

My question then is, is 'widget' a well known word outside of design/development? Is it sufficiently user friendly to be used in this context?

What might be some other alternative terms to use here? The widgets will be graphs, plots, tables, notification streams, calendars, etc.

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    Somewhat related: Explaining embeddable widgets to not so tech users – Matt Obee Jan 15 '15 at 14:52
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    "Add Item..." might be more neutral, but really it depends what your users expect. – Steve Jones Jan 15 '15 at 14:53
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    It depends. There are some people on the Andaman Islands that have never heard that or any other similar word. Ask your target audience. – DaveAlger Jan 15 '15 at 14:54
  • All current users are biologists at a company in San Francisco - so our target audience is educated with strong English. Though I don't want to use that as a crutch if there's a better term. Maybe just a nice "+" button is the ticket? – Sean Connolly Jan 15 '15 at 14:56
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As with much else, it's about how you frame it in a context more than anything else. No one would know what a retweet was before they knew what a tweet was.

Therefore I suggest that you don't show an empty area on the front page but that you rather populate it with at least one widget that you either know or expect to be popular. Then you add the call to action "Add widget" visually adjacent to the already existing widget. You now provide a visual mapping between the artifact and the term Widget which will aid the user in forming a correct mental representation of what it is if new to the concept.

Eg:

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

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    Great suggestion to add a default widget - it really lowers the barrier for the user to understand what will happen. Cheers. – Sean Connolly Jan 15 '15 at 16:03
  • @SeanConnolly I'm glad I could provide you with the idea! – AndroidHustle Jan 15 '15 at 17:50

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