When I ask “what is a widget?” the responses vary but mostly, if I’m honest, unintelligible to a non-technical person like me. So, my task, having chosen to accept it, was to find out the answer myself, but in a way that I could understand – in other words, in layman’s terms.
Now, the dictionary definition of “widget” (and this is the most sensible one I found) is:
a small mechanical device, as a knob or switch, esp. one whose name is not known or cannot be recalled; gadget: a row of widgets on the instrument panel.
A small computer program that can be installed on and executed from the desktop of a personal computer.
Ah, now this makes sense. It also goes on to:
An element of a graphical user interface such as a button or scroll bar; also, a module of software for a personalized Web page.
Pardon??? Lost me at “graphical user”! But it then gives an example:
The widget allows you to have “things to be happy about” on your website, make it look nice.
(many thanks to http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/widget for some straight talk.)
So, in my terms, a widget is something that I can install on my WordPress that will make me happier about my site – make it professional/easy to negotiate around/pretty even (or masculine if you prefer). OK! Good. I get it. Phew!
What next? Well, you probably already have some widgets in place within your WordPress without even knowing it. Most themes (don’t even get me started…) have certain widgets built into them as standard – such as Latest Posts, Categories, a Search Bar, and plenty more… We’ll get the Blogmistress herself to take us through the array of wonders available to us next week – it’s all very clever and great fun.
But what then is a plug-in? Is it the same thing? Um, no. OK back to the dictionary to find a basic definition….
A module or piece of software that can be added to a system to provide extra functions or features, especially software that enhances the capabilities of a web browser.
OK, so just so that I can be thorough here, what is a web browser??? (Phew this is hard work – not finding definitions, no, there are plenty of those, but finding ones that explain the word/term in basic English! Back to the trusty http://dictionary.reference.com which offers several definitions, one of which is bound to be right!
Note – don’t worry about what the code means, you don’t have to know, all you do need to know is that it does what it says it will! Bit like a car or a watch…
Anyway, I digress. My definition of the word “widget” in the context of a website would be: they are things to personalise your site.
There, that’s it! Simple huh? We will build on the whole Widget issue over time, with the aim of not only becoming more familiar and comfortable with them myself, but hopefully enabling you to do the same.