WordPress widgets are amazing small blocks that add content and functionality to your website. They usually appear in sidebars, headers or footers of your website. The best thing about widgets is the simplicity of their usage: you can just drag and drop them and get the desired functionality. Another good thing is that widgets usually require small spaces but give a lot of functionality. They can also dramatically change the overall appearance of your website.
You can see the available widgets of your website by entering Appearance > Widgets section in your WordPress dashboard. By default WordPress adds some basic widgets like Search, Recent Posts, Tag Cloud, Calendar, Custom Menu, etc. But you can add many more – we’ll talk further about this.
What is Widget Area
The second term that you need to understand for being able to use widgets is Widget Area. Widget areas are the places in your website where you can add widgets. Usually these areas are sidebars but recently when full width websites became more required new widget areas became available like footers and headers.
You should take into consideration that available widget areas are different from theme to theme. Some themes even don’t support widgets so you can check this before trying to use certain theme. Let me introduce you the most famous widget areas that you can come across while trying to add widgets:
- Primary Widget Area – Placing widgets in this area they will be displayed in the right hand side on the website.
- Secondary Widget Area – Placing widgets in this area they will be displayed in the left hand side on the website.
- First Footer Widget Area – Placing widgets in this area they will be displayed at the bottom (first column) of the website.
- Second Footer Widget Area – Placing widgets in this area they will be displayed at the bottom (second column) of the website.
- Third Footer Widget Area – Placing widgets in this area they will be displayed at the bottom (third column) of the website.
- Header Widget Area – Placing widgets in this area they will be displayed at the top of the website.
These are the most common widget-ready areas but you can also create new widget areas, but for this you need to have a good coding knowledge.
Now when you know what are widgets and widget areas you should just drag widgets and drop them to the desired area. Some widgets give you basic or even advanced customization options so you can take advantage of them.
How to Show or Hide Widgets on Certain Pages?
By default widgets appear on all the pages of your website. But sometimes you may want to show one widget on one page and another widget on the other page. Some modern widgets give you freedom to choose on which pages to show the widget. In this way you’d have more control over the content of your website and you can connect each widget with a certain page/pages. But even if the widgets you use don’t have this function you can use 3-rd party plugins which will help you to achieve this functionality.
I have researched and found Display Widgets plugin which adds checkboxes to each widget to either show or hide it on every site page.
This helps to avoid creating multiple sidebars and duplicating widgets by adding check boxes to each widget in the admin which will either show or hide the widgets on every site page. Great for avoiding extra coding and keeping your sidebars clean. By default, ‘Hide on checked pages’ is selected with no boxes checked, so all current widgets will continue to display on all pages.
How to Add New Widgets?
New widgets are always added either built in themes or plugins but you can also install new stand alone widgets. For example Event Calendar Wd, Instagram Feed WD, Form Maker plugins have their widgets too. You should install widgets as you do for plugins: just download the zip files > enter Plugins’ section > add new > choose zip file > install > activate.
Some Incredible Widgets You’d Love to Give a Try
I want to share with you some nice widgets that you may want to check.
With this nice, colorful widget you can show what’s hot in your blog right now. Unlike popular posts’ plugins out there, which just extract the highest comment count of all-time, with Popular Posts Bar, you can show the trending posts by comments or views in a given period of time like past 10 days.
This is really a great widget for those who want to showcase their YouTube videos in the website in a neat way without using much space. A video is displaying in the widget area with number of other video thumbnails and you can define the number of thumbnail columns and also the width of thumbnails. You have also multiple options to control video playbacks and an option for displaying related videos.
Business Contact Widget is a nice plugin that lets you to display contact details such as telephone, email, and physical address. You can also display a map and opening hours in the widget. You can choose between six different styles and two different icon sets available. Visitors can also send a message directly through the widget itself. You just need to enable submit contact form button.
Photo gallery plugin has also nice built in widgets: Photo Gallery widget, Photo Gallery slideshow widget and Photo Gallery Tag Cloud widget.
- With Photo Gallery widget you can display galleries and albums in thumbnail and masonry views, you can choose thumbnail counts and dimensions.
- Photo gallery slideshow widget has a very nice and elegant layout for displaying galleries. Here you can set image dimensions, film-strip sizes, slideshow effect, etc.
- Photo Gallery Tag Cloud widget give you freedom to set number of images and their dimensions. You can also choose on-click action whether open the image in a new page or in a light-box.
These are just samples of widget ideas that you can use in your next project but there are multiple widgets with diverse functionalities. Just search WordPress plugin directory for any idea you want.
I really hope that this article helped you to have better understanding about widgets, if you have any ideas to share with me, please write in comments below.