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What Are WordPress Widgets? Ultimate Beginners Guide

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For many WordPress beginners, the term WordPress widget is an alien language. You will find answers in this guide if you’re asking what WordPress widgets are.

WordPress Widgets are extremely powerful and can add additional content, features, or elements to your blog. Their use has many possibilities; your theme or imagination only limits them.

In this post, you will learn about WordPress widgets – what they are, how to use them, different types of widgets, how to create them, and many more.

Let’s get started.

What Are Widgets in WordPress?

WordPress Widgets are modules that allow you to add extra features or content to widget-enable areas on your WordPress blog.

Since your WordPress theme creates Widget areas, their location is related to your blog design and layouts.

A widget is not part of WordPress’s core functions; your blog can operate without adding a widget. Though WordPress has some default widgets, you can decide whether to use them on your blog.

A Widget can contain plain text, HTML elements, or media files added to a post/page or other parts of a WordPress blog.

Widgets’ appearance can be customized to fit your blog layout, design, color, and restrict/show page-by-page. 

No code knowledge or experience is required to add a widget. Add, remove, or rearrange widgets from the theme customizer or the WordPress widget page.

Here is an example of a WordPress Widget on a live blog.

Example of WordPress Widgets

There are WordPress plugins that add widgets to display their functions.

For example, email newsletters plugins add web forms to different parts of the blog.

Ad plugins also add banner widget sizes to different sections of the blog. A widget is helpful and an essential part of any WordPress blog.

Types of WordPress Widgets

As I said earlier, WordPress comes with its default widgets; your current blog themes also provide additional widget areas where you can drag and drop elements. 

However, the best way to understand WordPress widgets is to see examples. Here are some WordPress widgets commonly found on many WordPress blogs.

Custom HTML Text Widget

The Custom HTML text widget comes default with your WordPress installation software and is one of the most used WordPress widgets. 

Add basic HTML, JavaScript, and embedded links/codes into the text widget.

However, programming languages like PHP can not work in the text widget. The widget strips out any code or elements it does not recognize or display.

The HTML text widget can be added to a page/post, sidebar, or any widget-size area. 

Meta Widget

By default, WordPress adds a login widget that allows you or anyone with permission to log in from the WordPress blog pages. 

You should disable this widget after setting up your WordPress blog. Many WordPress sites don’t have it enabled, and this is because you don’t want your login page accessible to everyone.

You should remove it also.

Social Media Widget

Many WordPress themes come with built-in social media widgets.

It has become the standard for a WordPress theme to provide easy access for your blog reader to engage with you on your social media account through your WordPress blog.

Social media widgets can be displayed on the blog footer, sidebar, or header section. You can code your own using the custom HTML widget.

Recent Post, Categories, and Pages Widgets

The recent post widgets display recently published posts automatically on the blog.

You could also display any published page content in the blog (if it makes sense), and some blogs like to display content categories on the blog.

The content categories widget is helpful for blogs with lots of topics covered. It makes it easy for users to find relevant content by categories. 

These widgets come with WordPress installation software. 

Search Widget

The WordPress search widget is one of the essential widgets, and it allows your site users to search content archives for relevant content.

A search box is an essential element on a website; it improves the navigational system and user experience. It is a simple widget but highly recommended for most WordPress sites.

Call-to-Action Widget

For many WordPress sites, a call-to-action widget is essential to the page. You want your site visitor to take the required action before leaving. 

You may want your readers to take several actions on your website, from joining a mailing list, buying a product, downloading a gift, attending a webinar, etc. A call-to-action widget is an excellent way to influence the decision.

Readers can notice them on the page because of their prominent design and size. 

How to Add Widgets in WordPress Blog

Adding a widget to your WordPress sites isn’t difficult. The first thing to do is decide which widget you want on your blog. And whether your theme or WordPress provides space for it.

Depending on your active theme, you can find a list of available widget areas on your blog by going to Appearance>>Widget. Or from Appearance>> Customize>>Theme Customizer. Either way, you will gain access to the widget area.

Once you’re in the widget area, you will see a list of the available widgets and the supported place in your theme.

WordPress Widgets Area

If you’re using the blog editor, use the + sign to add a widget to the area. Instead of the drag-and-drop feature in the classic WordPress editor, the + character is used in the block editor.

There are several places to add widgets on the blog; let’s explore them.

Inside Content

WordPress Gutenberg editor allows you to insert a widget block on any part of the post/page.

To do this, click the + sign on the editor; type the widget name in the search dialogue box.

Dialogue box in Gutenberg editor

Next, select the widget name from the option. If your widget is available, it should be among the possibilities.

Sidebar

Almost every WordPress theme comes with a sidebar widget feature. Most WordPress themes allow widgets to be added to the primary sidebar. 

The primary sidebar is a prominent place to add widgets to a WordPress blog. User attention is drawn to the sidebar, which allows you to showcase important messages to your user.

Header Section

Depending on your active theme, you can add widgets to the header section of your blog pages. This might be displayed sitewide. 

You can display banner ads, announcements, countdown sales timers, or even a signup bar in the header section of your blog. And even make it sticky on the scroll.

Footer Section

The footer section is another essential place to add widgets to your blog.

Mostly, many blog owners add contact widgets, calendars, appointment widgets, recent posts, and live chat widgets to the footer. You can add your choice widget to any section of the page. You don’t have to go with others; your blog is yours. 

Creating Mobile Responsive Widgets

By default, most WordPress widgets are responsive on mobile devices. But, depending on the screen size, some gadgets will relocate to the bottom of the page on mobile.

Due to the mobile device’s screen size, the sidebar section is shifted to the bottom of the page. It allows the sidebar content to display on the mobile full screen.

How Many Widgets Can You Have on a Page?

No rule limits how many widgets you can have on a page. It depends on a variety of factors.

Your theme widgets’ availability, computing power, and business goal are among the things you should consider. 

Consider user experience when adding widgets to your website.

Too many widgets on a page can be distracting, especially popup widgets.

Use only the widget that helps you achieve a business goal – signup, increasing conversion, sales, webinar sign-up, etc.

If the content of a widget does not serve any purpose, remove it from the page. 

Widgets vs. Plugins – What Are The Differences?

Plugins are different from widgets. Plugins extend the features and functions of a WordPress blog, while widgets are used to display content on the blog.

Plugins are installed applications on your blog that run in the background to provide specific functionality or features, including adding more widgets.

Not all plugins add widgets to WordPress; some plugins create their settings page where you configure it to work.

And some plugins just run in the background, doing their things without configuration or interruption. WordPress plugins are PHP-coded applications that bring more function, security, and features to WordPress.

On the other hand, widgets are drag-and-drop block elements used to add visible content to the front end of a WordPress blog.

A widget is like your mobile phone app widgets. The application that runs the widget is installed on your phone, while the widget to open the application is visible on your phone screen.

Your WordPress installation software has some default widgets – tag cloud, login, recent post, tag, categories, recent comments, search bar, etc.

Your active WordPress themes add additional widget size areas to the blog design and layouts.

Summary – What Are WordPress Widgets?

Widgets are one of the essential components of a WordPress blog. They can help you increase conversion, sales, signups, downloads, and more.

If you’ve been asking what WordPress widgets are, you know what widgets are in WordPress and how to add, remove, or rearrange their appearance.

There are widgets for many things in WordPress – content, media, ads, text, and more.

You can code your widgets using the WordPress widgets API, but this is not something everyone can do.

However, WordPress has plenty of widget options; you probably don’t need to deal with code.

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