All About WordPress Widgets! Lesson #12

Widgets are mini programs or applications that create digital tools, and these tools can be added to a blog to perform various functions.

The part of WordPress (WordPress.com) that provides free blog access also offers widgets for people to use on their blogs. However, in order to manage and protect these free blogs, WordPress limits widget access to a small number (thousands of widgets are available for blogs out in the blog world). Too many widgets that are not vetted can open the door to digital problems, and WordPress wants to avoid these digital difficulties as much as possible.

You can read this interesting blog post at the Edublogger site, Getting More Out of Widgets, but all of the information may not be specific to WordPress blogs.

Below I’ve listed a few. You can learn more about WordPress widgets at this support link.

  • Calendar
  • Text box
  • Frequently visited posts
  • Images
  • Links
  • Archives

A blog’s theme determines how many widgets are available — some themes allow more than others. Most themes have columns or sidebars — the widest column is always for blog posts, and the other one or two columns are for placing your widgets — the added bells and whistles of your blog.  The graphic below is a screen shot of the top half of the widget lists.

Screen shot of the upper half of the WordPress.com widgets page.

Take a look at  the sidebars on my blogs, As Our Parents Age and Media! Tech! Parenting! You’ll notice that I use some widgets more than once — links, for instance — and that both of my blogs have two extra sidebars in addition to the space for my posts. I have set up my blogs to feature all sorts of link categories. On a family blog you could set up a link category for each family member’s favorite links, or links that connect to a certain topic, or specific activity links for each child. I also use the image widget in several places so I can break up the columns with digital pictures.

Picture of a Sidebar from the Start a Family Blog Class Dashboard

Instructions for Adding Widgets

  • Click on widgets under the appearance category. This takes you to the page with the widgets listed (refer to image just above).
  • Look to the right of all the widgets section and find your sidebars– usually labeled Sidebar 1 and Sidebar 2, depending on whether your blog has one or two sidebars.
  • Center your mouse over a widget and drag it to one of the sidebars.
  • Drag each widget to a sidebar.
  • Change the order of widgets in the sidebar by dragging them up or down.
In my next lesson I’ll highlight some of the widgets in more detail.
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