What are Widgets in WordPress in 3 Clear Parts

Knowing what are widgets in WordPress is critical when almost all websites have widgets in one form or another. Widgets are software programs that function as blocks that can be added to headers, footers, sidebars and other places to add features and guide users in websites and apps.

We will go over what are widgets in WordPress in 3 parts:

  • What are Widgets?
  • About WordPress.
  • How to Add Widgets to WordPress.

What are Widgets in WordPress?

What are Widgets

What are Widgets in WordPress? Widgets are software programs that function as blocks that can be added to add features, guide users, and analyze statistics and data in websites and apps. Some widgets work by users interacting with them while others are used on the backend of the site to aid website developers and designers. 

About WordPress

What are widgets in WordPress starts with explain a key difference. WordPress.org and WordPress.com are two different things. WordPress.org is a free and open-source (anyone can add to or alter the code) website building software while WordPress.com is a hosting company that has a version of WordPress website building software. 

WordPress symbol on blue background

WordPress.org is a type of software called a ‘content management system’. Content management systems simplify managing critical elements of a site such as making content, creating product pages, etc. eliminating the requirement of understanding or having skills for programming, software, code, or other technical elements. The best part about WordPress is that it is free to download and use and available to alter to your and your website’s specifications.

WordPress software works well on different platforms and devices while allowing designers to customize their website and its design to their heart’s content. WordPress software and plugins are a combination of privately and open-source developed, so users have a spectrum of options of theme, style, what kind of website to run, which plugins to use, etc. Users can even run multiple sites through one back-end (called a multisite) so they can have multiple companies and/or gigs on different sites running all at once.

WordPress widgets are added in the admin part of the site or by customizing the WordPress theme

How to Add Widgets to WordPress

The first way to add widgets to a WordPress site is to go to the site’s dashboard. Scroll down to ‘Appearance’. A drop down menu will appear. Click on the option ‘Widgets’.

WordPress how to get to widgets

You will see a list of places to add widgets to your site, either in sidebars or footers.

Opening one of these places reveals places to add widgets (and some of these places may already have widgets in them as basic suggestions; these can be easily removed as desired). Use either the blue plus icon in the top left corner or add blocks like you would in Gutenberg.

Clicking on a block will yield a list of options that can be filled out or selected from a list of options as seen in the right image.

The other way to add widgets is through a plugin or through a theme that allows it like Kadence. Go to ‘Customize’; then when you get to the new page, click on ‘Widgets’ on the large, left menu. You will get a drop down for places to add widgets. Click on the desired place and add blocks as mentioned above. Also, you can navigate your site and click the blue-magnifying glass, edit button to edit specific parts of existing sidebars and footers.

What do Widgets Do?

Marketing

people advertising with social media

The first thing that widgets do is help market certain pages and/or products. Major or most viewed pages, products, and services can be emphasized in sidebars and other such places with clear headings and links to them (bonus points if attractive images are used). Widgets also allow users to sign up for newsletters, other lists, or accounts to grow subscriber lists and user accounts. 

Branding

The next thing that widgets do is the branding of the company. Branding is a combination of the place in the field of work that the company does, values that the company has along with what customers care about, and the personality and tone of the company that sets it apart from the competition. This is represented by symbols, icons, logos, colors, word choice, graphics, and other things. Good branding makes it easier to tell what you do, what your values are, why consumers should favor your brand, etc.

A well-laid out sidebar grants users an idea of what the brand values and focuses on by looking at the topics discussed on post categories/tags and clear, targeted language used in the headers to describe each widget. Users can also get a feel for the brand by looking for recent or most popular comments made by other users.

Organization/Layout

The next thing that widgets do is help organize items and guide users through the site’s layout. Make sure that it is organized logically and labeled clearly with headers and critical/main ideas are bolded. As a general rule, keep 3-5 similar elements and items together. Make sure that the way you organize/categorize elements is logical and easy to pick up on. This helps with the feeling of unison in the design and gives a sense of what to expect that helps users find things easily. 

Buttons and links help website and app designers guide users from current page to ones that are similar or may otherwise interest users. Buttons can be designed a number of ways, but are usually a different color than the background and circle or oval shape. Buttons can be personalized further to give them a unique feel to make the website design more personalized for the brand. 

You can also add a widget for searching the entire site for a specific item or topic. Some users prefer this method over menus for website navigation, so make sure you have a search widget somewhere on your pages. (Also, test it and any other widgets to make sure they actually work; it’s embarrassing to get an email or other notification from users that a widget is broken.)

Magnifying glass over a web page

Design

The last part that widgets do is affecting the design of the page. Make sure there is good contrast between colors and keep in mind the color-blind when choosing colors (look up common types of color blindness for this). The best colors for design of a website newsletter depend on what the website is for, who will be using it, and what the tone of the site and the owners want and like. 

Images can be added through widgets to add color and interest to sidebars and headers/footers. Crafty designers use images to reinforce facts, topics, and other information. Images include cartoons, graphics, graphs, and photographs (yes, stock images too). Since most people are visual learners, use beautiful yet relevant images to reinforce ideas of the text. 

It is best to use/make your own to avoid copyright and make your site unique. Whatever images you use in/with the widget should be large and clear without being garish or overwhelming. If possible images, particularly cartoons and graphics should be flatter rather than 3D; this makes the image smoother and more a part of the overall design (this also makes the newsletter load faster).

Summary

What are Widgets in WordPress? Widgets are software programs that function as blocks that can be added to add features, guide users, and analyze statistics and data in websites and apps. Some widgets work by users interacting with them while others are used on the backend of the site to aid website developers and designers. We went over what are widgets in wordpress in 3 parts:

  • What are Widgets?
  • About WordPress.
  • How to Add Widgets to WordPress.

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