When I first started using WordPress I really wished I had asked the question ‘umm, what’s a widget?’, plugins made sense to me (although at the time I hadn’t yet installed or used one) as the name gave me a pretty good idea. But when I was asked to see which widgets were installed (or something like that) I just thought the person couldn’t think of the name e.g. which doo-dahs are present on the thingamabob?
Often when you install a plugin you will need to place it in the sidebar to see it on your site. To do this go to the dashboard >appearance > widgets. Widgets are plugins and tools that get popped into your sidebar to appear on your site. Or in codex.wordpress.org speak:
WordPress Widgets (WPW) is like a plugin, but designed to provide a simple way to arrange the various elements of your sidebar content (known as “widgets”) without having to change any code.
When you first install WordPress there are already widgets present which can be dragged to the sidebar area to activate them and choose further options to suit your needs, you can also drag them to change which order they appear.
The widgets you get at first are listed below with a brief description, whether you use them is up to you and how you want your blog to look:
- Archives – shows a list of months in which posts have been made, click on that month and it takes you to those posts.
- Calendar – a handy calendar and if there are posts for a particular date it appears as a link to your posts.
- Categories – you get a list of category links and when clicked will show the related posts.
- Links – the blogroll lists sites you want to link to, these can be edited easily from your dashboard > links (on the left hand side)
- Meta – handy links to login in to your admin panel etc
- Pages – displays the pages you have on your WordPress site, easy to setup and edit from your dashboard > pages
- Recent Comments – latest comments you have received and approved will show here.
- RSS – follow the latest posts and news from other sites, i’ve used http://www.blogmistress.com/feed here as an example
- Search – displays a search box for your site
- Tag Cloud – displays up to 45 of the top used tags from your posts, you’ll decide on tags when you are writing your blog posts.
- Text – displays a text box where you can put any information you like, also used to pop in HTML etc (this is a very useful widget, one that we’ll cover in more detail soon).
Probably the best way to decide is experiment with each; don’t worry, you won’t break anything 🙂
Although it may not be a great idea to have every single one showing on your site 😉
The Blogmistress has ventured into screencasting in order to take you through the screens to add your first widgets to your sidebars (be gentle with her, it’s her first!):