A WordPress widget is a piece of standalone code that can be readily slotted into the sidebar or other position on a WordPress site. Built into WordPress is a well designed widget management system that the non-technical user can easily use to enhance the look of their blog.
Definition of a widget (Wikipedia)
A widget is a stand-alone application that can be embedded into third party sites by any user on a page where they have rights of authorship (e.g. a webpage, blog, or profile on a social media site).
WordPress Widgets were originally developed by the WordPress team to improve the look of the sidebar. The widget system in the package makes it extremely easy to install, organise or remove widgets even by someone with no real technical knowledge.
Widgets are an extremely useful enhancement to a WordPress site. Originally widgets were a very easy way for the non-technical blog owner to add code, text and images to a blog’s sidebar.
Now developers have produced a fantastic range of widgets to increased possibilities of your blog and the same time many themes now incorporate areas for widgets in all sections of their blog design, including the header, footer and even in a post layout .
Note: Many older WordPress themes are not enabled for widgets.
Installing a widget
Log into the WordPress dashboard.
Click Appearance on the left hand column
Click Widgets on the Appearance Menu
Note: The Appearance Menu will change dependant on the installed theme.
This menu is the current default theme of WordPress: Twenty Ten.
The WordPress widget management system
The WordPress standard widgets
WordPress offers a number of standard widgets. The below screen shows them all below. As stated there could be additional widgets from the theme developer or the user can add additional widgets with one of the numerous plug-ins available to WordPress. These will be briefly described at the end of the article.
The widget areas
The third column displays the widget areas available on the theme. Each widget enhanced theme will have a different set of widgets. This set is from the default theme: Twenty Ten.
The Primary and Secondary Widget Areas are in fact the top and the bottom of the sidebar. The other four are to do with the footer.
To install a widget
As an example I plan to install a Text Widget into the Secondary Widget Area.
Click on the widget area to open it.
The Secondary Widget Area is opened
Drag widget with mouse to widget area
Usually WordPress opens a widget to enable the user to manage the settings. In this case to enter a title and in the body to enter text, code for an image or code, usually to change the colour, the size or appearance of of text.
Manage the settings
In this case adding text to the header and the body.
I have entered a heading and some text. I have also clicked the Automatically add paragraphs box to make sure the text is displayed in the sidebar exactly as I have written it. See below.
When you have finished entering text press the Save button and then the Close button and you have then installed your first widget.
Hopefully you will see that the widget has been installed correctly.
If ‘Automatically add paragraphs’ box is not ticked the text gets pushed together. If you forget just re-open the Text Widget, correct and Save.
Blog Basics: Overview of the standard WordPress widgets.
Within the next couple of weeks I will be writing tutorials on managing widgets, the use of the standard widgets, installing plug-ins that will add to the number of available widgets and much more.