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How to add and use Widgets in WordPress (Updated 2021)

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WordPress is one of the most powerful and used Content Management Systems (CMS). WordPress allows all the users to freely express and spread their opinions or thoughts on specific topics, manage websites, or even sell products and services online with 24/7 customer support. 

Hence, WordPress is a useful tool regardless if you are a beginner or intermediate user. 

How to add and use widgets in wordpress

Further, WordPress allows you to add widgets to your website(s). Widgets are handy, and they add a bunch of extra content besides the main page’s content. 

Generally, within your website’s footer or sidebar, widgets can be the content blocks. You can stack it up with a navigation menu, lead form, or even logos. 

Widgets are added to increase usability, and eventually, they enhance user experience. 

There are many available widgets for content types, social media feeds, search, maps, other media, etc. The real challenge is to select the best widgets for your website and not overdecorate it. 

Although WordPress provides some preloaded widgets yet, you can’t manually add more widgets on your website with a couple of clicks as the default settings of WordPress forbid you to do so. 

You can either code them on your website or install plugins. 

Altogether it might look like a tedious or a momentous task for the beginners or play around with the widgets on WordPress for the first time. 

This is a step-by-step tutorial on ‘How to Add and Use Widgets in WordPress.’ By the end of this tutorial, you will successively be able to do all your desired tasks. 

Let’s discuss the most common widgets that you will often come across and use on your website(s). There are many more available widgets, but these are the most famous and efficient ones.

How to Step-up different Widgets in WordPress

1. Navigation Widgets:

Navigation Widgets in WordPress

Navigation Widgets allow your visitors to explore your website. They just need to click on the area your visitors are looking for. They will automatically be redirected there. 

You can even customize the navigation menu and add it to a widget area too. 

2. Recent Posts Widget:

Recent post widgets for WordPress website

 Recent Posts is probably the most commonly used widget, and it comes pre-installed with WordPress. It allows you to stack up the most recent posts in the footer or your website’s sidebar.

This not only gives your website a professional edge but also increases the chances of people browsing your website and maybe even give a read to a bunch of your posts. 

3. Social Media Widgets:

Adding your social media on your website lets your audience know about all your social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) 

You can increase your social media following substantially and promote your blogs, products, or services even further. 

You can install a separate plugin for each social media or install wholesome packages. 

You can also find Third-Party Plugins. They give you 100% freedom to customize the appearance of all your social media icons on your website. 

Other necessary and most useful widgets include:

  1. Map Widgets
  2. Form Widget
  3. Media Widget
  4. Shopping Cart widget
  5. Search Widget

As mentioned above, some pre-installed widgets on WordPress: Archives, Recent Posts, Search, Meta, Gallery, Tag Cloud, Categories, Text, Search, Audio, Video, Calendar, etc. 

Widgets in WordPress website

ADDING WIDGETS TO THE SIDEBAR AND FOOTER:

After finalizing your widgets, you can start adding them to the default spaces provided by your theme. Seldom some themes miss out on giving default widget areas, you can check out other alternate options. 

You can add the widgets either from the Admin Screen for widgets or Customiser- Customize> Widgets from the Admin Bar, which you can easily spot at the top of your screen. 

adding a widget to a wordpress website

The other simple way to add widgets to the sidebar, which are available by default on your WordPress theme, is by drag-and-drop them to your sidebar as displayed in the animation below. 

adding widget to sidebars in WordPress

You can also make the process of adding widgets simple for yourself by enabling the accessibility mode. 

Look for Screen Options on the top right corner of your screen and then enable the accessibility mode- this will allow the ‘Add’ button of all the available widgets. 

This will redirect you to an accessible screen, and now you can select the sidebar. 

archives widgets in WordPress

If you are willing to add widgets on other areas of your website like Below Header and additional footers, WordPress allows so. (Make sure your theme does too.)

WordPress Admin > Widgets Settings- Here, you will see all the available widget areas. 

sidebar and footer widgets in WordPress

Although you can add widgets in a bunch of possible places on your website, yet the best-recommended area to add a widget except the sidebar or the footer is to add a sidebar in the header. It makes your website look even further professional and gives you an edge. 

If you are looking for some customized widgets just according to your taste and you are unable to find them- the best practice is to code them yourselves on your website(given you have technical skills.)

Some of them example snippet are given below: 

To add a widget area for header:
gister_sidebar( array
('name' => __
( 'In Header Widget Area', 'rmccollin' ),'id' => 'in-header-widget-area', 'description' => __
( 'A widget area located to the right hand side of the header,
next to the site title and description.',
'rmccollin' ), 'before_widget' => '
', 'after_widget' => '
','before_title' => '
', 'after_title' => '
',
To add the widget area on the right:
if ( is_active_sidebar( 'in-header-widget-area' ) ) { ?>

EDITING A WIDGET:

After adding a widget or multiple widgets to your website, you can perform a fair amount of edits on them. 

You can quickly relocate the widgets’ position, edit the device’s settings, and even delete the widget altogether. 

Though it’s an easy process, some of the widgets don’t allow editing, or for some widgets, the editing process can be far more than complicated.

You need to check the documentation provided by the developer of your plugin. 

DELETING A WIDGET:

To delete a widget, click on the delete link on the bottom left of the widget’s settings.

(As mentioned above, to edit or delete any widget, you have to check with the documentation provided by your plugins developer.) 

deleting a wordpress plugin

CREATE A PLUGIN FOR YOUR WIDGET:

Seldom people cannot find a perfect match of widgets for their website, and they wish to create their widgets. To create one, you have to code a plugin. Coding a plugin can be tireless for you, provided you have some technical skills. 

In your wp-content/plugins directory, create a plugin folder and add an empty file there with an apt name and add the below code to this file. Remember to edit the below code URL and plugin name to your own. This will activate the plugin via the Plugins screen.

<?php
/**
* Plugin Name: Widget for Dates
* Plugin URI: https://wpuber.com
* Description: A simple call to widget.
* Version: 2.0
* Author: Tim Michel
* Author URI: https://timmich.co.uk
*/

You can see the further step-by-step procedure here.

CONCLUSION:

Customizing your webpages with widgets can give a big boost to your webpage’s engagements and you will be able to see an evident increase in numbers. With increasing creativity and features on WordPress, setting up the correct widgets on your website is a necessity these days. 

For beginners, it might be intimidating at first, start by trying and reading thoroughly about all the available options. Look out for the most useful and easy to set up widgets and gradually you will get a hang of it. 

You may like to read:

How to Display Different Sidebars for Each Post and Page in WordPress

Back to Basics: How To Improve the GTmetrix Score Of A WordPress Site

How to Improve the PageSpeed Score of a WordPress Site.

Author avatar
Tim Michaels
I am into WordPress and web development for the last 10 years. I use my experience to help people just starting with WordPress. Follow my blog at WP Uber for everything related to WordPress.
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