Widgets are pieces of code (WordPress Plugins) that allow you different functions within your blog. Examples of widgets are tag clouds, search bars, post categories, and lists. You don’t need any special experience or knowledge to use widgets, because they were designed to be user-friendly and simple to use.
If you have a “widgetized” WordPress Theme (most are), you can use them in the sidebar, footer, header, and elsewhere to customize the design and structure of your blog’s design. It is easy to add, move, and remove widgets: go to your Admin interface and select Appearance > Widgets.
Where you put a widget is entirely up to you. As mentioned, you can put one anywhere on your blog. You can drag and drop the widgets you want into the sidebar/header/footer widget area. You can move them around within the sidebar, too. If you decide you don’t want that widget anymore, click “Delete” or drag the widget out of its placement in the Primary or Secondary Widget Area. If you want to keep the settings for that particular widget, but don’t want to keep it active on your blog, drag it to the Inactive Widgets section.
How To Customize
Click on the down arrow beside the widget name to open up the customizable section of that widget. Make sure you click the “Save” button! When you’re done, simple click on the arrow again or click “Close.”
Where To Find
Different themes come with different widgets. There are tons of free and purchasable themes available. Depending on the theme you choose, you will have different widgets available. Some themes have limited widget spaces while others are chock-full of options. All themes have default widgets that will automatically show on your blog if you choose not to customize it: examples of default widgets are Pages, Archives, Categories, Blogroll, and Meta.
If the theme you choose doesn’t offer a certain widget, you can go to WordPress’ Plugin Directory and browse all of the offered widgets. These take a bit more work to get them to your blog, but the process is fairly straight-forward:
- click on the widget you want
- click the “Download” button
- once it downloads, unzip it and upload it to wp-content/plugin
- open up your Admin interface, go to Plugins, and click “Activate” beside the plugin name
- to configure it, go to Appearance > Widgets and follow the same steps as outlined above in “How To Customize Widgets.”
You can also search for widgets that don’t come with your theme: go to your Admin interface, then Appearance > Plugins > Add New. Here, you can search for keywords (in the Search section) that relate to the type of widget you want to install, or click on the tag “Widget” in the Popular Tags section.
You can also find a list of widgets here. Click on the name to navigate to an off-Wordpress site to download. You will also find instructions there for how to install these third-party widgets.
How Widgets Improve Your Blog
Different bloggers have different goals or purposes, but pretty much everyone will agree that the appearance, functionality, and design of a blog will keep a reader interested. The widgets (or plugins) you have on your blog help you connect with your readers beyond just the content you display. You can customize your blog to suit your needs. Social media widgets can help you incorporate your Twitter feed, Facebook page, Pinterest page, and other sites into your blog, as well.
Which widgets are your favorites, and how do you use widgets to improve your blog?