What is a Laterna?
Apart from a popular instrument, the laterna became popular because of its decoration: more often than not, the instrument players would decorate it flamboyantly. They were not flirting with kitsch, they were completely in love with it.
Since, the word can be combined with anything to describe how extremely kitsch it is: a “laterna” car is one with all these lights and stickers on, etc. You get the idea.
Widgets as Laterna Decoration
Let’s explore our three beloved components, i.e. functionality, usability, and user experience, to see what’s the situation with many contemporary blogs and websites.
Blogs with too many widgets just don’t work: they just might load for ever. This problem is huge with popular browsers that have memory leaks (cough). Your browser may crash and you may lose your previously open tabs. There goes the old-but-good “on MY computer it works fine”, “yeah, but I don’t have YOUR computer”.
Even fairly sized newspapers have websites with a widget overload. Usually these won’t crash your browser; they were made by professional web developers. It’s not certain though that web developers are familiar with design and usability guidelines altogether. It just needs common sense though: the news story is surrounded by animated content; you can neither concentrate on the story, nor on each of the animations. Even if you’re actually interested in one of those surrounding animated ads, it’s hard to find it in this mess.
Moreover, the aesthetics of this practice is questionable. Kitsch is usually not ok. Unless, of course, there’s a particular reason why a kitsch design should be communicated to the public. However, visiting repeatedly a kitsch blog/website, makes a bad experience out of it.
Overall, too many widgets make your blog/website a “laterna” blog/website. And, yes, I know, widget X is cool. Being able to read the blog is cooler, though.
Do you really need that widget you’re just going to install? Or is it going to drive me away from your website?