WordPress Plugins which add or change elements in a WordPress Theme can be a challenge to install and configure due to the overwhelming code found within a WordPress Theme. WordPress Widgets overcome the fear as there is no interaction directly with the Theme code. Users can add design, statistics, and a variety of gadgets to their WordPress blogs without ever looking under the hood at the code.
While the world of WordPress Widgets is open to a wide variety of blog design applications, currently the majority of the WordPress Widgets only work in the blog’s sidebar.
Personally, I studied business administration in college and Economics 101 dealt too much with widgets, so I’m not a fan of the name “widgets”. So I call these things “sidebar accessories” as they “accessorize” your WordPress Blog. Which explains the subtitle under the WordPress Widgets Blog title. ;-)
WordPress Widgets take WordPress Plugins which work well in your blog’s sidebar, and make them easy to add to your WordPress blog sidebar. Sidebar bling.
Let’s look at various WordPress Widgets and how to use them as part of my ongoing Month of WordPress Plugins series.
Finding WordPress Widgets
WordPress.com users can find optional WordPress Widgets in their WordPress Administration Panel under Presentation. However, this series is about full version WordPress users, and for you, there are a ton of WordPress Widgets for you to choose from to decorate your WordPress blog, with more being developed all the time.
The WordPress Codex List of WordPress Widgets is a great starting point.
- Technorati ‘WordPress Widgets’
- Technorati ‘Widgets+Plugin’
- Technorati ‘Widgets’
- Google Search for WordPress Widgets
Using WordPress Widgets
WordPress Widgets install just like regular WordPress Plugins with drop-in installation. There’s a catch, though.
WordPress Widgets only work with Widget-enabled WordPress Themes.
WordPress Themes need some code within them to make them work with WordPress Widgets.
The WordPress Codex hosts a list of WordPress Widget-enabled Themes and you can find more on the WordPress Widget Blog for Widget-compatible Themes.
If you want to add WordPress Widgets to your WordPress Theme, called widgetization, see the instructions on Automattic’s Guide to Widgetizing WordPress Themes.
WordPress Widget Wonders
New WordPress Widgets are released almost every day. It’s hard to keep up with all of them. Since any WordPress Plugin that would work as a sidebar Widget can become one, some WordPress Plugin authors are offering their Plugins as optional Widgets.
Personally, I like the text and feed Widgets on this blog, but there are lot of interesting Widgets to choose from.
Here are some highlights:
- Plugins Used Plugin Widget showcases the WordPress Plugins you use on your WordPress blog in a sidebar Widget.
- Skype Button Widget adds a Skype informational button
- WhoLinked WordPress Plugin Widget shows who is linking to your blog
- Top 10 Posts
- Wayback Widget brings back old posts
- Word Stats
- WP Polls
- A Yahoo SiteExplorer Widget also shows you incoming links
- Accessibility Widget allows visitors to easily change the text size and stylesheet for better readability
- Around This Date In The Past displays posts from X years ago on this date
- Associative Dictionary showcases your own dictionary
- Bitty Browser puts a miniature browser in your blog.
- coComment widget displays coComment conversations with your coComment registration
- Google Maps Widget displays your location on a map
- Joe’s Quotes Widget displays a quote and the picture of the person or a graphic image
- Joe’s Subscription Widget shows blog subscription options
- Jerome’s Keywords Tag Cloud
- Lazyest Gallery Thumbs Slideshow
- List Blog Authors
- Custom Pages gives you back control of your Pages sort order and nesting
- Festivities showcases festival and event dates
- Fresh Comments showcases recent approved comments
- Fuzzy Recent Links shows recent links
- Fuzzy Recent Posts displays recent posts
- Netflix Widget
- Paypal Donate Widget
- Quick SMS sending
- Random Fortune
- RS Event Listing
- theFreeDictionary content for Quote for the Day, Word of the Day, Article of the Day, This Day in History, and more
- Mon.Itor.Us helps monitor your blog’s performance and status
In general, most WordPress Widgets are designed to be featured only once on a WordPress blog’s sidebar. However, you can overrule that with the JAW Duplicate Widgets WordPress Plugin. It overrides the default action of most WordPress Widgets to prevent duplication, allowing you to feature the same Widget on one or more sidebars on your blog.
Turning WordPress Plugins Into WordPress Widgets
Making a WordPress Plugin into a WordPress Widget to work on Widget-enabled Themes is not quite as complicated as it may appear, but it does require some additional work by the WordPress Plugin author.
To help you understand how a WordPress Widget works, and to see an example in action, Kafeskquie offers My Widget – an example WordPress widget as a template for those who want to learn more about how these useful additions to the world of WordPress Plugins work.
To help you Widgetize your Plugin, see also:
More Information and Resources on WordPress Widgets
For more information on WordPress Resources and how to use them on your WordPress blogs, see:
- Playing with WordPress.com New Sidebar Widgets
- Playing with WordPress.com New Sidebar Widgets
- Widgetize your WordPress Theme
- Widgets Ready Volunteer WordPress Theme Conversion
- Which WordPress Widgets Would You Want
- Customizing RSS Feed Links for WordPress.com and WordPress Sidebar Widgets
- WordPress Widgets – Customizing Your WordPress.com Theme Sidebar
- WordPress.com Blog Bling: Blogroll and Sidebar and Widget Bling
I should warn you that there has recently been some flack about widgets on the web. Too many widgets can slow down your blog. CrunchNotes reports that TechCrunch crashed recently and part of the problem was too many widgets and badly designed widgets. MyBlogLog’s widget caused slowdowns on the site. Jeremy Zawodny’s “Jascript Badges and Widgets Considered Harmful” is another blogger unhappy with the over-widgetizing of the web.
While these are discussing third-party content Widgets, like Google Gadgets, which bring content to your blog, take care with how many and what widgets you add to your WordPress blog. Too much of anything is too much.
Do you have a favorite WordPress Widget? How about a favorite WordPress Plugin you’d like to see turned into a WordPress Widget?
And have you found any WordPress Widgets that work outside of the WordPress Theme sidebar? I’m still looking for those!
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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network