When you set up a new WordPress blog you have the option to add some widgets to your sidebars.
What are widgets?
Widgets are pre-programmed modules, which come as part of WordPress, that you can add to the sidebars of your blog to display useful or relevant bits of information.
Importantly: widgets are different from plugins.
Widgets come pre-installed in WordPress and you add them to your sidebars. Plugins are not pre-installed – you need to add them.
There’s an article on installing plugins here.
How to activate widgets
You can access the available widgets through the Appearance>Widgets screen:
Most of the widgets are pre-programmed and display things like your archives, your blogroll, your posting calendar, your tag cloud and so on.
There are lots of these available. Some plugins also make use of widgets and will add extra ones into this screen.
One of the most useful, though, is the Text widget.
You can think of this as a blank HTML page (except that it fits in your sidebar).
By that I mean that you can insert anything in a text widget that’s based on HTML – i.e. forms, scripts or your own HTML creations.
Note that while you can add anything you like to text widgets on WordPress.org, WordPress.com does not allow you to add scripts or forms for security reasons.
I’ve used the text widget to add images, links to products I’m promoting, badges for my social sites, RSS sign up gadgets and so on.
If your theme has sidebars you should add some widgets to round out the appearance. At first just add one or two of the standard ones – for example your archives, maybe the calendar and maybe the Links (your blogroll).
As you develop your site you can add others or come up with creations using the text widget.
Adding widgets is very straightforward:
Step 1: Go to the appearance>widgets screen. Select the sidebar you want to add the widget to with the drop down menu at the top right (1 below).
Step 2: Click the ‘add’ link next to the widget you want to add (2 below).
Once a widget’s been installed it appears as a blue box on the right (3 above)
Step 3: Click the ‘edit’ link in the bottom right corner of the blue widget box (4 above) to alter settings or, in the case of the text widget, to add your code.
You can move the position of the widget up or down by simply clicking, holding and sliding it.
If you want move a widget from one sidebar to the other you’ll need to follow a 2-step process: remove it from one sidebar then add it back to the other.
Click the ‘edit’ link of the widget you want to move, then click ‘Remove’.
Then you’ll need to select the other sidebar from the drop-down menu at the top and go through the ‘add’ process.
A bit clunky I know – it was actually better in earlier versions of WordPress, go figure!
Note that if you’re moving a text widget you’ll need to copy your code before removing it.
Once you’ve added it to the other sidebar, simply click ‘edit’ and paste your code back again.
Click ‘Done’ in each edit screen when you’ve finished with that widget, and don’t forget to click ‘Save Changes’ when you’ve completed everything.
That’s it – you’re all done.