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Playing with New Sidebar Widgets

There have been a few recent announcements about the Sidebar Widgets lately, especially from WordPress developer, Andy Skelton, and in the Blog, so what is all the fuss about?

Hideously named “WordPress Widgets” is the method of accessorizing your sidebar on WordPress Themes which permit such interaction. Through the use of Javascripts and Ajax, you can simply click and move boxes representing content elements within your Theme’s sidebar. The elements include Pages, categories, links, most recent posts, most recent comments, meta/admin, and text.

In an effort to help with testing these new sidebar accessories, I’ve changed my blog Theme to one enabled to use them. This is part of my “job” working with WordPress. So pardon my dust as I figure this new Theme out and play with the new toys.

If you would like to use the new Widgets, choose a WordPress Theme from the Presentation Panel that brings up the Sidebar Editor. The problem with this is that you have to select each Theme before you know which one is enabled with the new WordPress Widgets. This means users will see your blog’s design and layout jump around if their timing coincides with your hunt for access to the Sidebar Editor. Hopefully, Sidebar Editor enabled Themes will be designated from the others, or all will include this feature.

When you see the Sidebar Editor appear next to the Themes tab, you have found the WordPress Widgets.

Theme Sidebar Editor for WordPress Widgets

Click on the Sidebar Editor tab and choose your Widgets.

Click on the rectangular labeled choices on the left and drag them into the Sidebar 1 box. Push and shove them around to get the order right, then click Save Changes to change the look of your sidebar. View your site to see if you like the look. You might not.

Wordpress Widget - Move the widget to the sidebar

Some Themes feature very narrow or extremely wide sidebars and the look of the new content in the sidebar may look off or funny to you. You can stick with that Theme or go hunting again for another one to try until you like the final results.

Once you have set your sidebar accessories or Widgets, they are set no matter which Theme you choose, as long as that Theme is enabled to handle the Widgets. This allows you to test drive the different Widget enabled Themes to find one you like.

Wordpress Widgets - configuring customizable textOn customizable Widgets, there is a small notepad graphic on the right side. Hover over it and a balloon tip pops up that says “Configure”. Click on it and a window will pop up and the screen behind it will grey out. Don’t worry. Nothing is wrong, it just puts your focus on the box not the screen behind, hopefully making it easier to see.

In the window’s form, type in the new title or text you would like to use to replace the default text. For example, you can change the title for “Pages” to “Site Information” or “About this Blog”, or whatever you want. Click ENTER to select your customization, and click Save Changes to implement the new title or text.

WordPress Widget - typing in customizable text in the sidebarIn the Text Widget option, you can enter a title for your text, like “Blog Description” or “Mood”, and then in the box below, you can enter in any text you want. To add it, click inside of the title section and click ENTER. If you click ENTER inside of the form area, you will create a new line. I’m sure an OKAY button will be added to make this a little more intuitive.

The title will look like the other titles in your sidebar, and the text will just look like text, if your Theme’s sidebar is formatted to handle straight text. Some may default to the text in the content area, and others may feature text looking like links, since links are the main feature of the sidebar.

If you don’t like the look of the title and/or the text area of your Text box, you can type all your text in the title area, or only in the text form area to change the look of the text in the sidebar.

You can also add more than one Text box. Scroll down on the Sidebar Editor panel for more options.

A very cool thing you can do is add feeds from other websites with these new Widgets. Andy Skelton’s blog features several RSS feeds in his sidebar as an example.

This is a brand new concept and Andy is working on a WordPress Plugin for these so any WordPress 2.0 blog can take advantage of this new feature, and WordPress Theme designers will have fun incorporating these new techniques into their Theme designs, changing the way many people look at web page designs in the future. The WordPress developers are also looking for more ideas and suggestions for more Widgets, and hopefully will expand this beyond the sidebar in the future.

Update: Have an idea for a WordPress Widget? Come join the discussion on Which WordPress Widgets Would You Want next door!

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen


  1. Posted March 11, 2006 at 6:12 am | Permalink


    My heart took a nasty jump, when I went to your blog for the latest and the brightest on WordPress and blogging philosophy.

    Suddenly I wasn’t at home, but in some white and bright desert. That was my first impression only, and the explanation came prompto: She’s only experimenting with some new and nifty widget machinery at WordPress dot com.

    I really like the idea of selectable and movable widgets for the sidebar. Your normal ( earlier? ) theme Regulus 2 ( sonds like some French king ), has and admin page, where you can select weather or not to present certain lists, and for changing the header image and color scheme. The new fascilities in for certain themes is very much welcome, especially as you are not allowed to tamper with the template’s code.

    I have wished for something like this to happen, and maybe the next step will be themes, where not only the administrator decides what widgets are presented, but in which the reader can move things around, and preserve her/his view of the blog.

    Happy hunting for the ultimate view on yours!
    I’ll be back for content regardless of presentation 😉

  2. Posted March 11, 2006 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Thanks, and yes, it’s a shocker when you return to something familiar only to find it is different. While I liked the Regulus Theme, it has many problems that were very uncomfortable for me to use, such as the simple inability to NOT use a horizontal line in my content. I adored the customizable features, but it currently lacks Widgets.

    As one of the testers for, I needed to play with the Widgets.

    Still, your point about “suddenly I wasn’t at home” is excellent. I’ll write about that soon. You are always a source of inspiration for me, Petit. Thanks!

  3. Posted March 12, 2006 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Great post on the topic, Lorelle. This functionality looks like a scaled back version of some software that’s been a few months in the making. Yas and I are putting the finishing touches on Canvas, a drag and drop layout management tool for your entire blog – main and sidebar content and more… It’s built for any WordPress user, not just the crowd. Here’s a little bit more on our project.

  4. Posted March 12, 2006 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Excellent write-up. Where did you get the translator buttons from?

  5. heyearthman
    Posted March 12, 2006 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    I have always been a big fan of ‘widgets’ and these latest developments have done nothing but to reinforce this love affair.

  6. Posted March 12, 2006 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    I found that the category widget has a flaw. It doesn’t show the category heirarchy correctly on some of the themes that have the feature, ie, dusk

  7. Posted March 12, 2006 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    Very good one, thanks 🙂

  8. Posted March 13, 2006 at 1:16 am | Permalink

    I think they should add a “last 10 gravatars” list and go head-to-head with Myspace.

  9. Posted March 28, 2006 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been hearing about these from day one and have been dying to know, is this just for the WP hosted blogs or any WP blog (with ver. up to date I assume) use these? I ask because I keep seeing when they are being referenced, or am I reading too much into it? TIA.

  10. Posted March 29, 2006 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    So far, I believe that these are just available on blogs. Andy is working on making this a WordPress Plugin, which would then make it available on any WordPress 2.0 blog. Have to upgrade in preparation! 😉

  11. Ken
    Posted July 22, 2006 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle or anyone:
    I just started using WordPress 2 and for the life of me, can’t find the Sidebar Widget button ANYWHERE! I’ve tried the WordPress default, classic, and another downloaded (desert) themes and can’t find the button anywhere!

  12. Posted July 22, 2006 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    It comes automatically with blogs. To make it work on the full version of WordPress, you must install the WordPress Sidebar Widgets Full Version WordPress Plugin. In order to work, you must be using WordPress Themes that recognize and work with these sidebar widgets. Check the various WordPress Theme sites to find out which ones work with the Widget Plugin.

    Good luck and let me know what you find out.

  13. Posted October 8, 2006 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Widgets rock! I won’t even look at a possible new theme unless it supports widgets.

  14. alphaomegakids
    Posted October 13, 2006 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Has anyone found a “poll” creator that I can enter into a widget or onto a post or anything? I had one then it stopped. I have tried others, only to have nothing show up, or the picture show up, but nobody can vote on anything. Any thoughts?

  15. Posted October 16, 2006 at 6:06 pm | Permalink


    Excellent article. I created a similiar article not knowing that yours existed… which I must say, your article blows mine away. At the end of my article I have added a references section so that viewers can explore more about WordPress Sidebar Widgets. I have added your article here as one of the main references. This by far, has been the best article I have read that talks about widgets and how to use them. Thanks for taking the time to create the article… I can only guess how much time and effort it took to create. Thanks!

    – Garry

  16. Posted October 20, 2006 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for all your helpful resources on wordpress! I love the widgets, and I have customized my blog with hours of work, but I am currently seeking an answer regarding the recent posts widget that comes with the widgets sidebar (I realize there are other plugins too). I want to limit the number of posts displayed to 5, and I cannot find the answer here, wordpress codex, or other search results (sorry if I missed it somewhere). I wonder if I am missing something obvious. Before I mess with the widget file directly from ftp (and try not to break my blog:) I thought I would post to see if I can get advice on how to modify code somewhere. Thanks.

  17. Posted October 20, 2006 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    If you are using a blog widget, you have no options to control quantity of related posts. If you are using another widget on a full version WordPress blog, you are limited by the widget’s designer. If you know javascript, I’m sure you can figure out how to edit the code accordingly.

    Or you can use Customizable Post Listings WordPress Plugin with the recent posts feature. That’s the best idea for full version WordPress blogs.

  18. Posted November 5, 2006 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    I’m amazed how informative is your blog

    this is the first time i visit it and first time to comment and sure won’t be the last

    i’ll be here daily – thanks dear for those info

  19. Posted February 8, 2007 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Sidebar widgets are just loveable aspect of WordPress. The ease they offer a common blog owner is great!

  20. Posted June 16, 2007 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    I wrote a VirtualPlantz widget for wordpress that lets you put a virtual plant in your sidebar. Check it out if you’d like.

  21. Posted June 17, 2007 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    It is possible to have your widgetized theme run in the folder above your wordpress blog folder. It can take quite a bit of hacking to get it to work right across a site, but here’s the tip


  22. Posted June 22, 2007 at 3:32 am | Permalink

    WordPress Rocks! Widgets Are Great!

  23. Posted July 28, 2007 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    i want the other content of the sidebar remain there. in the above process it repalces my existing links in sidebar. i want them intact. any solution for this

  24. Posted July 28, 2007 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Nothing should go away, though it should move around. Just move things where you want them. Could you be more specific about what is “replaced” by Sidebar Widgets?

  25. madesign
    Posted September 21, 2007 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Interessting for me would be how to customize on which page a widget shows up. K2 had a nice option in there sitebar widgets where you could select the pages. Well does it gives a similar solution for the wordpress widgets?

    Saludos de Argentina, Michael

  26. Posted September 21, 2007 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    I don’t know. It depends upon the Theme. I know you can put in conditional tags that check to see which “page” the user is viewing, thus show only specific items based on the page view, but that involves digging into your WordPress Theme templates and writing the conditional statement.

    Best to ask in the WordPress Support Forums on this one as it is Theme dependent, I think.

  27. Posted October 23, 2007 at 2:40 am | Permalink

    Is it possible to put only certain post (maybe named ‘Featured Post’) to a post field and sequence post (normal post that we create every day) under the certain post? I’d rather interested in adding more contents and variety to the post field than sidebar. I mean in the homepage. For example, see latest layout. It is quite catchy to my eyes than filling sidebar with craps. I’m planning to make a homepage layout quite similar to his. Is it possible? Hehe..Thanks in advance.

    ps: I see your comment system do not use any anti-spam. See pingback/trackback number 28.

  28. Posted October 23, 2007 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    There are many ways to customize the front page of your blog, and many articles online to tell you how to do that, including Creating a Static Front Page, The Loop in Action, and Conditional Tags in the WordPress Codex, the online manual for WordPress users.

  29. Posted June 22, 2008 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    I had a widget enabled theme then when I did the last wordpress upgrade I am unable to change the order of the widgets by dragging. Any idea how to fix this?

  30. Posted June 23, 2008 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    @ Dotty:

    Please direct your question to the WordPress Support Forum as they may be able to give you the individual attention to this issue that you need. It could be as simple as upgrading your WordPress Theme.

  31. Posted September 17, 2008 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    thanks for sharing this information..
    specially for newbie like me.

  32. Dirty
    Posted November 10, 2008 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    I got sick of trying to get different sidebars on each page.
    Are there any plugins to allow this?

  33. Posted November 11, 2008 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    @ Dirty:

    Sidebars are a design issue, not a Plugin. Choose a WordPress Theme with the sidebars where you want them and go from there. I recommend the Sandbox WordPress Theme as a good starting point.

  34. Posted March 10, 2009 at 3:20 am | Permalink

    great, i find this to be quite informative

  35. Icepup3
    Posted July 19, 2009 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Im the Sidebar in Text widget how can you use codes online to get your own widgets on?

    • Posted July 21, 2009 at 7:16 am | Permalink

      I’m not sure I understand what you are asking. Are you asking about how to get your own developed and coded Widgets into or onto any WordPress self-hosted blog? Or how to use WordPress Widgets on a blog?

      Or are you asking about how to add JavaScript or non-WordPress code to a WordPress text Widget so it will work on your blog? If you are adding it to a self hosted WordPress blog, just add it to the Text Widget. If you are on, you cannot use JavaScript or any non-standard basic HTML.

  36. Icepup3
    Posted July 21, 2009 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Why can’t you make it so you can use HTML on a blog? I have that kind.

  37. Icepup3
    Posted July 21, 2009 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Will any code other then Javascript work?

  38. Icepup3
    Posted July 26, 2009 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Will HTML in the text widget work on a blog?

  39. Gary
    Posted September 7, 2009 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    I’m somewhat new to WP and I see this topic is over 3 yrs. old. I’m looking to selectively include/exclude a widget.
    I want to show the NextGEN Widget on my front page only. I added some code to header.php :

    #ngg-images-2 { display: none;}

    The above code works but seems like there should be a way avoid the DB calls.


    • Posted September 7, 2009 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      Please contact the Widget author for information on customizing that WordPress Widget. They will have the right answers for you.

  40. Posted November 22, 2010 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    And here’s a wordpress plugin that enables you to create custom sidebars for each post or page. Simply create a custom field with the content you want displayed and drag the graceful sidebar widget to your sidebar form the admin panel.


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