It may be a funny sounding word to many beginning WordPress users, but widgets can be—and should be—a vital component to any WordPress design.
What exactly are widgets? In simple terms to the uninitiated, widgets are small blocks that provide very specific functions on your WordPress page. They allow users to add different features—galleries, quotes, a “most popular posts” box, Facebook connections and tons of other options—without having to write complicated code. Essentially, they add an important bit of dynamic experiences for your visitors, and greatly enhance the appearance of your page and the overall impression of exploration.
For those ready to start experimenting with Widgets, you should first visit the “Appearance, Widgets” page within your WordPress admin area. Here you get a comprehensive view of all available widgets as well as the designated areas on your WordPress site where they can be placed. Note that those designated areas depend on which theme you’re currently using, and may be known as “sidebars” or “widget-ready areas.”
Thankfully there are several ways to incorporate widgets into the sidebar on your page, but by far the easiest way is the “drag and drop” method. Simply click on the widget title from the list and WordPress displays a list of sidebars into which the widget can be placed—all you have to do is select a specific sidebar and click on the “add widget button.” Likewise if, at some point, you’d like to remove a widget, go back to the “Appearance, Widgets” page, locate the one you want to remove and click on its title to expand it. Then find the link below it to delete.
Of course, as many WordPress users are working with a default theme, the choices can be pretty limited on what widgets you can utilize. However, there are thousands of others available via plugins, such as those for displaying comprehensive image galleries with Envira; linking to Google Maps; creating different sorts of post archive displays; incorporating a YouTube Channel gallery; allowing for a contact info or signup box; and even making a “quick chat” system that will appear on every page of your site and foster more conversation with your users and visitors.
Of course, like so many things with WordPress, widgets run the gamut from quick and easy to learn and incorporate to more complex depending on whether the designer has a decent understanding of writing code. Indeed, many WordPress users who have grown comfortable with the platform have taken to designing their own custom widgets based on their specific needs and desires; this is especially useful for e-commerce sites where it’s important to tweak the customer experience in an effort to achieve the most conversions, repeated visits, click-throughs and shares.
If you haven’t yet started experimenting with widgets on your WordPress site, now’s the time to give it a go. They can greatly enhance your site, add important functionality and help your pages stand apart from the crowd.