Fantastic WordPress Widgets

Fantastic WordPress Widgets

WordPress Widgets are WordPress Plugins that add visitor visual and interactivity options and features, such as sidebar widgets for post categories, tag clouds, navigation, search, etc. They were originally designed to provide a simple and easy-to-use way of giving design and structure control of the WordPress Theme to the user in the sidebar, which is now available on properly “widgetized” WordPress Themes to include the header, footer, and elsewhere in the WordPress design and structure.

Example of the WordPress Widget Panel

WordPress Widget Panel
WordPress Widget Panel

Clicking on image will take you to the WordPress codex page.

Note: Your panel will likely vary as each theme uploads different widgets.

Widgets require no code experience or expertise. They can be added, removed, and rearranged on the WordPress Administration Appearance > Widgets panel. The order and placement is set by the WordPress Theme in the functions.php file.
Some WordPress Widgets offer customization and options such as forms to fill out, includes or excludes of data and information, optional images, and other customization features.

The Widgets SubPanel explains how to use the various Widgets that come delivered with WordPress.

The Widgets page at Automattic explains how to ‘widgetize’ WordPress Themes and Plugins, and how to write WordPress Widgets.

WordPress Widgets and Plugins featuring Widget options can be found in the WordPress Plugin Directory.

Activate Widgets

To active your WordPress Theme Widget options:
1. Go to Appearance > Widgets.
2. Choose a Widget and drag it to the sidebar where you wish it to appear. There might be more than one sidebar option, so begin with the first one. Once in place, WordPress automatically updates the Theme.
3. Preview the site. You should find that the “default” sidebar elements are now gone and only the new addition is visible.
4. Return to the Widgets Panel to continue adding Widgets.
5. To arrange the Widgets within the sidebar or Widget area, click and drag it into place.
6. To customize the Widget features, click the down arrow in the upper right corner to expand the Widget’s interface.
7. To save the Widget’s customization, click Save.
8. To remove the Widget, click Remove or Delete.

If you change WordPress Themes, the Widgets will return to the left side of the page in the Widget Archives or Available Widgets list. You may need to add them again and rearrangement depending upon the Theme’s ability to preserve other Theme’s Widgets.

Using Text Widgets

The Text Widget is one of the most commonly used WordPress Widgets that comes with every WordPress installation. It allows users to add text, video, images, custom lists, and more to their WordPress sites.

To use the WordPress Text Widget:
1. Go to Themes > Widgets in the WordPress Administration Panels.
2. Open the sidebar, footer, or Theme section to which you wish to add the Text Widget.
3. Find the Text Widget in the list of Widgets.
4. Click and drag the Widget to the spot you wish it to appear.

To open and edit the Text Widget:
1. Click the down arrow to the right of the Text Widget title.
2. Set the Text Widget Title (optional).
3. Add the text or HTML code to the box or edit what is currently there.
4. Choose the option to Automatically add paragraphs to wrap each block of text in an HTML paragraph tag (recommended for text).
5. Click Save to save the Text Widget.
6. Click Close to close the Text Widget.
7. Switch tabs in your browser and preview the results and make changes if necessary.

The Text Widget can hold a variety of HTML, XHTML, and multimedia links and players such as video and object embeds.

Styling the Text Widget

Standard image alignment CSS styles such as alignleft, alignright, and aligncenter apply for images.

To specifically style the various default styles of the WordPress Text Widget, use the following example:

Styling the WordPress Text Widget
Styling the WordPress Text Widget

Click the image to be taken to the WordPress Codex page where you can copy and paste the code for testing.

Adding Code to the Text Widget

Basic HTML, embeds, and JavaScript are added easily to the WordPress Text Widget. Most embed codes from social sharing sites for multimedia will work in a WordPress Text Widget. However, active code and programming languages such as PHP will not work as the Widget will strip out code it cannot display.

To add active code to the Text Widget, use one of the many WordPress Plugins from the WordPress Plugin Directory that override WordPress restrictions on using PHP in posts. Check that they will work on Widgets as some will not.

Using RSS Widgets

There are two built-in WordPress RSS or Feed Widgets. The RSS Links displays a list of the links to various core WordPress feeds on your site for Posts and Comments. The RSS allows you to integrate an external feed source for content into a Widget area of your site, such as your Twitter account, Facebook posts, Google+ posts, or other blogs.

The RSS Links Widget offers the option to title the section and choose which type of feeds to offer to visitors to add to their feed reader. This widget does not display feed content, just the links to the feeds.
1. Posts will displays the most recently published content in their feed reader.
2. Comments displays the most recent comments in their feed reader.
3. Posts and Comments displays a combination of both in their feed reader.

The visitor will typically click the link to add the feed to their feed reader.

The RSS Widget displays the most recently published content from any source with an active feed. This is an ideal way of integrating outside content into your site.

By default, WordPress RSS Widgets display the post title or the first 100 or so characters of a Tweet or long untitled post. These are either in the form of a link or features a link to the original source depending upon the feed’s design and structure.
1. Enter the RSS feed URL in the first form, copied from the source page for the content you wish to include in your sidebar or other widgetized space.
2. Give the feed a title: This is optional and gives you the chance to showcase the source of the content.
3. How many items would you like to display: By default, 10 are show, but you can choose from 1-20 posts.
4. Display item content?: This allows you to show an excerpt of the content not just the title.
5. Display item author if available?: If you wish to give credit to the original author of the content, check this to display the author.
6. Display item date?: If available, the date of the original content will be shown.

You may add multiple RSS Widgets for incoming feeds to your WordPress sidebar and other widgetized areas of your site.

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