What is a widget?
A widget is a special section on a website that are designed to perform a specific task. Widgets are the important features of web design and development process. The most common use of widgets are seen on footer and sidebars.
The most popular widgets that we find on a typical WordPress templates are calendar, search bar, custom menu, recent posts, archives and social media icons. WordPress comes with the list of built-in widgets and you have options to download more based on your requirements. Most of the plugins are available as widgets and works in the widget areas.
Most of the modern websites and especially WordPress themes and templates use widgets in the footer and sidebar. Continue reading to learn how to add and use widgets on WordPress themes.
How to use widgets on your website?
All the available widgets are accessible through your WordPress dashboard. Log into your dashboard and follow the path below,
Dashboard > Appearance > Widgets
Widget page is composed of 2 distinct columns
- list of available widgets (on the left-hand side)
- widgets area (on the right-hand side)
To use a widget, simply drag and drop the appropriate widget to the widget area in the right. For example if you want to write a paragraph about your company in the footer section, drag the widget called “Text” and drop it into the widget area called “Footer”. Write your title and content on the available area and click on save. Now if you go to your website and refresh the page, you will be able to see the change.
To remove a widget you can either drag & drop it outside the widget area or click on delete.
Now we will use the 5 best WordPress widgets to enhance your websites functionality.
- Recent Posts Widget with Thumbnails: Although WordPress has built-in widget to display the list of recent posts, it doesn’t display the post thumbnail or image associated with it. In order to display your post’s featured image as a thumbnail and additional excerpts on your sidebar, you need a plugin called Recent Posts Widget with Thumbnails. Once you download and activate this plugin, you can drag and drop it to the widget area.
- Social Share Icons & Social Share Buttons: This plugin allows you to add social media icons on the widget areas. You can use various features such as like or follow button on your sidebars and footer to maximize the traffic to your social media platforms. It allows you to choose many button designs with an option to display count next to your share icons. You can also use the built-in opt-in form to grow your email list.
- OptinMonster: If you are into the online marketing and wants to grow your email list, OptinMonster allow you to build list for your posts. It uses subscribe form to collect users information and saves it into your dashboard. This lead-generation plugin is easy to use as a widget and easily integrates with popular email providers such as MaiChimp and Aweber. It is easy to use form builder to create signup forms and integrate them into your widget area.
- Testimonials Widget: Testimonials widget allows you to create & organize testimonials in most effective way using available widget area. Various options such as slider view or list view are available to offer variations to your widget content. Another great way to add testimonials with using the plugins is to use built-in WordPress Text widget. Simply type your testimonials and click on save.
- Image Widget: Research shows that image attracts more attention than a simple paragraph. It makes your webpage visually appealing. If you are not familiar or comfortable using html to add images to your widget areas, use Image widget. This plugin allows you to use WordPress media gallery to add images to your website. It is a very popular plugin with half a million active installs.
Note: If you didn’t find widget area such as sidebar widget and footer widget in Dashboard > Appearance > Widget, it means your theme doesn’t support the widget functionality. Some themes only allow widget on a sidebar. Before you buy any 3rd party template always make sure that it has enough widget area for you to add cool features to your website. Good web design integrates and promotes maximum use of widgets.