After you create an account, you choose the color scheme of your toolbar from over 25 options along with the icon that appears on it. By default, they’ll try to grab your favicon, you can use their default, or upload another icon. All of this you can preview at the bottom of the page as you make your customizations.
The next step in the initial setup process is to choose which apps you want on your toolbar. You can choose to enable several apps such as:
- a Website search (which includes your site and Google)
- a link to a Google translation of your page
- a button for recent posts preview and a button to jump to a random post
- a photo gallery through Flickr
- a community through Facebook Connect
- A button to share your post with the 11 most popular social news/networking sites
- A notifier so you can send messages to your visitors
- a dashboard to Twitter so visitors can tweet about your content or see what’s on Twitter about your site
- Flash games
- Facebook fan page.
You can also rearrange the order of the apps within their control panel.
All of these apps engage your visitors while keeping them on your page. Most things open in a pop-up frame from the toolbar allowing people to tell others about your site, subscribe to your feed, or investigate your site further. Two buttons that really encourage further exploration of your site includes the Recent Posts button and the Random button. The Recent Posts button provides a preview of your latest articles while the Random button will take you to a Random post. It can also help turn visitors into subscribers by providing a clear place to find your RSS feed.
After you select your apps, you’ll need to enter the URL to your RSS feed (assuming you chose to include it) and your Twitter user name (assuming again) to make some of your apps fully-functional. The toolbar comes is available in 20 languages and also helps your site cross any language barriers with the translate app that sends your page directly to Google Translate.
Wibiya also provides a search for your site or Google web search; the logo you chose in setup is used to distinguish the two. This should help direct to the right content if they didn’t land there in the first place. The results pop up in a frame from the toolbar so your visitors don’t have to leave your site.
The Twitter integration is a bit interesting. Not only does it provide you the means to “retweet” the page your on, which it also provides the URL shortened by bit.ly, but it will start off by looking at recent tweets by the site owner. The left panel will show you any tweets about the site you’re visiting and then if you click on any names in the left panel, the right side will reload to show you recent tweets by that person.
Notifications are used to communicate directly with your visitors. Perhaps you want to notify them of site maintenance or a new post being published, and with Wibiya you can. You can make a message live and it will notify all current visitors. You can set the message to last for 24 hours or be continual. It’s pretty simple to compose a new message and you can even include a link at the end to communicate with site visitors.
You can also add games to the toolbar which will provide a variety of Flash games to be played while still remaining on your site. If a visitor doesn’t like the toolbar, they can minimize it and it will stay out of their way as long as cookies are remembered.
Installing the Wibiya toolbar is a breeze. WordPress is as simple as downloading a plugin from Wibiya and uploading it to your server. Blogger seems to also be automatically done by logging into your Blogger account (I couldn’t test this as I don’t have a Blogger account). TypePad and other websites can easily add the toolbar by adding a single line that calls the toolbar from Wibiya’s servers within the html body tags.
From the Wibiya site, you can login and view statistics/analytics about how your toolbar is being used. Almost all of the actions are recorded and you can see the stats by the day, week, month, or all time. This should give you a pretty good outlook on what people are using your site for and help you design the toolbar and your site to address what your visitors are looking for. More specific analytics are supposed to be coming in the next version of Wibiya I’m told.
All in all, I’m very satisfied with the Wibiya toolbar. I believe it improves my site and directs visitors to further explore my site (which I say tongue in cheek because if you’re reading this, you’re a visitor. Hey, Thanks for stopping by!). I’m excited to see the stats of the toolbar usage grow and get feedback on how it affects my site. The only things I’d add to my wish list for Wibiya would be to be able to add ‘Next Article’ and ‘Previous Article’ navigation buttons and to get even more specific statistics and analytics. Currently, my stats tell me that 3 articles have been shared through the toolbar. It would be nice to know which articles and on which sites they have been shared.
I’ve previouslly used the Mit3xxx toolbar which was decent but didn’t offer as advanced performance and customization as Wibiya. It also docked on the left or right side of the window which could cover up information if the size of a screen wasn’t large enough and it jumped quite noticeably as you scroll down. I also used ShareThis to allow articles to be submitted to popular news sites, but I think Wibiya has incorporated that feature well and in a more integrated fashion.
If you’re running a website and would like to add the Wibiya toolbar, go request your invite at Wibiya.com. Just look at the bottom of your screen to see the toolbar in action. Please let me hear any feedback in the forum if you like or dislike adding the toolbar to 404 Tech Support.