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Designing a Theme to Include WordPress Widgets?

If you are a WordPress Theme designer, with WordPress Themes already released or on the way, and you would like to add the new WordPress Widgets to your Theme, read Widgetizing Themes from Automattic – WordPress Widgets.

This page contains technical instructions on updating a theme for use with widgets. Many themes can be updated in five to ten minutes. Others will take an hour or two to get all of the kinks worked out. Some will look awful no matter what you do. This document assumes basic PHP editing skills, though you probably won’t have to write any code of your own.

In summary, WordPress Widgets Wilt WordPress Wizards.

These can be very easy to use and very complicated. Take your time. Read through the instructions carefully. And seriously consider if your WordPress Theme really needs these. Some do, some might not. It’s up to you. WordPress accessorizing Widgets are just one more tool in your WordPress Theme design arsenal.

And remember, it turns over part of the design elements to the user, so take this into consideration as you plan or renovate your WordPress Theme.

Also, the WordPress Support Forum volunteers are just getting up to speed on these new widget gadget toys. They might not have the answers you need. Begin with the step-by-step widgetizing instructions and look around the web for more answers before hitting the forums. Then search the forums thoroughly before asking, since you are probably not the first to ask.

For users having trouble with WordPress Themes using WordPress Widgets, contact the Theme author first as the problem is with the Theme. If this fails, then turn to the Forums for help. bloggers should use the Support Forums and the Feedback button from the Administration Panels for help, not the WordPress Support Forums.

For more information, see:


  1. Posted March 31, 2006 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle, I appreciate all the advice you give on the blog. I’ve been blogging for quite some time, but just started with WordPress. I was pondering if you could point me in the right direction to a theme that is Widget compatible and justified (expands or contracts, depending on client OS resolution). I have not found one that does this yet. Thanks for any help you can provide. My blog is about politics, technology, and what ever is on my mind at the moment. I’m in college for network administrations management, but that is more on the hardware side of the internet. I hope to take a few CSS classes this year, for I am an idiot at CSS. Thanks again…

  2. Posted April 1, 2006 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    I know the WordPress developers are volunteers are working on a list of WordPress Themes that include Widget capability, but since there are now instructions on how to add it to any Theme, this will blur things.

    There are thousands of WordPress Themes out there, and many variations on a style. I can’t keep track of all of them. And as this Widget thing expands, remember it’s brand new, there will be more Themes coming out with it all the time. Keep looking and watching.

  3. Posted April 1, 2006 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    I ran across this widgets stuff a couple of weeks ago when it was first published here on, and I instantly fell in love with this feature, so there were – supposedly – little ppl out there happier than me to learn to know that Widgets are now available as a seperate plugin.
    So my task for the past three days was glass clear – implement full Widgets support into Binary Blue 😉 – and there it is.

    I’m very interested which great new widgets we’ll face in the next couple of weeks, as it is really easy to write new widgets thanks to the well documented API.

  4. Posted April 2, 2006 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Good for you. When you say “full Widgets support”, do you mean only the sidebar or more? I’m interested if anyone had put Widget features in places other than the sidebar in their Themes?

  5. Posted November 26, 2007 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle,

    The instructions for adding the theme’s search form into the widgets on Matt’s site are WRONG. They create a parse error every time. Any idea where we can get the right code for this?

  6. Posted November 26, 2007 at 9:06 pm | Permalink


    If there is a problem with the article on Automattic’s site, then you will have to ask them. It should work. Ask on the WordPress Support Forum, but search first to find out if others have had problems with this. Make sure every quote mark and apostrophe is a text version and not a smart quote. Good luck!

  7. Olympic
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Nice overview. My roofing website which I recently launched is running on mostly widgets, which is quite nice. Whenever I need to change something I know exactly where I need to go and can make the change with very little work. Widgets in WordPress have certainly come a long way over the years. Now you can even download plugins that come with unique widgets that you can simply drag and drop into a widget area.

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