What Is a WordPress Widget and How Do I Use Them?

what are widgets in wordpress

“widgets” by m anima is licensed under CC BY 2.0

WordPress widgets are a great way to add small pieces of information that will be duplicated on all of the pages of your site. This lesson will cover information about what they are and how to use them. They are like a swiss army knife for your blog and can save you a lot of time.

What is a WordPress Widget?

Widgets are small blocks of text, images, or forms that can be inserted into the pages on your blog. These small blocks will show up on all of the pages of your blog (you can configure them to only show on blogs or only show on pages as well). Common usages of widgets include information about the author of a post, a list of Featured Posts or Latest Posts, and calendars. We use Widgets on GoStartABlog to show additional menus and sign-up forms in the sidebar of the site. We don't have to manually add a widget to each page, it shows up automatically on every page or post we publish!

Where Do WordPress Widgets Show Up?

Depending on the themes that you choose, there will be specific widget-areas that you can Drag & Drop widgets into. For the most part, all themes allow you to add widgets to the sidebar of your pages, but the footer and middle of your content are also frequently available depending on the theme that you choose. If in doubt, search the documentation of your theme on where you can put widgets. When configuring widgets, which we will show you below, the dashboard makes it pretty obvious where the widget will show up when you add it.

Where Do I Find WordPress Widgets?

There are a standard set of widgets that come with WordPress. However, many plugins also add widgets that you can use to enhance your website or posts.

For example, a lot of advertising plugins automatically install widgets that you can use to place ads in specific places on your site.

 The standard default WordPress widgets are:

  • Archives - Show a list of months where visitors can see all posts published in that month.
  • Calendar - Monthly calendar where visitors can view posts by publish date.
  • Categories - Show the commonly used categories on your blog that visitors can browse.
  • Custom Menu - Build your own menu with links to posts, pages, or  categories.
  • Meta - Show the WordPress login form so you or your visitors can easily log in.
  • Pages - Show a list of all pages on your site.
  • Recent Comments - Shows the last few comments that were made on posts. This makes it easy for your visitors to jump to conversations they want to join.
  • Recent Pages/Posts - Show newly published posts and pages.
  • Search - Search box that visitors can use to find content.
  • Text Box - You can put any text you want or even HTML that will be shown to your visitors.

How to Add Widgets to WordPress (and Remove Them)

The menu to configure widgets can be found in Appearance->Widgets.

To add a widget to a specific section, drag and drop the widget into the section where you want it to be displayed. Once it has been moved, there may be some additional configuration options that are available such as giving the widget a title or changing the color. This varies from widget to widget so make sure to look at the options when you are adding new ones to your blog.

To delete a widget, simple click the Delete link under the widget you want to delete. You can always add the widget again, but you will lose any configuration that you added to it.