The beauty of WordPress is that it allows you to customise your site to the finest detail. That’s probably the reason it’s currently powering over 43% of websites. That level of customisation can be achieved through various means, including themes, plugins, and, of course, widgets.
WordPress widgets are small blocks of content that can be added to specific areas of your website, such as the sidebar or footer, to display different kinds of content, including links, lists, images, videos, and more. They’re a convenient yet simple way to add additional functionality to your website without the need for any coding knowledge (well, most of the time, at least).
If you’d like to start using widgets on your WordPress website, you’re in luck, because that’s what we’re covering in this article.
So, why and how to create a widget in WordPress?
First, what are WordPress widgets?
Before learning how to create a widget in WordPress, you need to understand what they are.
So, we’ve already established that widgets are like little building blocks that you can use to add all sorts of cool stuff to your website. But, what exactly are they and how do they work?
Well, at their core, widgets are just small blocks of code that are designed to display certain types of content (be it text or media) or perform specific functions (for example, show a calendar).
Because widgets are built using a standardised system, they can be added to any WordPress site with ease. All you need to do is go to your site’s widget area, select the widget you want to use, and then drag and drop it into place. Easy peasy!
Types of widgets in WordPress
There are all sorts of widgets available for WordPress, each with its own unique set of features. Some of the most popular types of widgets include:
- Text widgets: allow you to display plain text or HTML code on your site
- Image widgets: let you display images in your site’s sidebars or footers
- Link widgets: allow you to display a list of links to other pages or websites
- Mini-form widgets: can be used to display small contact forms or sign-up forms on your site
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! (We’ll talk about some of the essential widgets that every website should have later on).
Why you need to use WordPress widgets
WordPress widgets are a great way to enhance the customisation and functionality of your website.
This makes them a great option for non-technical users who want to make changes to their websites without hiring a developer.
Here are some of the benefits of using WordPress widgets:
Better customisation options
Widgets allow you to customise specific areas of your website with content that’s relevant to your business or personal brand. This allows you to create a more personalised and engaging experience for your website visitors.
You can use WordPress widgets to add a plethora of useful features to your website, such as search bars, social media links, and calendar widgets. This can help improve the overall functionality as well as the user experience of your website and make it easier for users to navigate and find the information they need.
For example, here’s how we make it easier to find us on different social media platforms using a WordPress widget in the footer section of our website:
How to create a widget in WordPress
Okay, now that you understand why you should start using widgets, you’re probably wondering how to do it. Well, it’s easy to learn how to create a widget in WordPress. Just follow these steps:
Step 1: Choose a theme that supports widgets
Before you can add widgets to your website, you’ll need to pick a WordPress theme that supports them. Thankfully, most modern themes come with widget support, but it’s always a good idea to double-check before selecting a theme.
So, how to know if a theme supports widgets?
Well, you can either check the theme’s documentation before installing it and see if there’s any mention of Widgets there, or install the desired theme first then simply navigate to the Appearance menu and look for a submenu titled “Widgets”.
Step 2: Access the widgets area in your WordPress dashboard
Once you have a theme that supports widgets, you can access the widgets area by going to the “Appearance” section of your WordPress dashboard and selecting “Widgets.” This will open the widgets area, which allows you to add, remove, and customise widgets in different areas of your website.
Step 3: Select a location then choose the widget that you want to add
When you open the widgets area, you’ll find all the locations in which your WordPress theme allows you to add widgets. Select the location, then click on “+”. Next, search for the type of widget that you want to add.
Step 4: Configure the widget’s settings
Each widget has its own set of options and settings that you can customise to suit your needs. For example, you might be able to choose which pages the widget appears on, or customise the title and appearance of the widget.
Step 5: Save the widget and refresh your website to see the changes
Once you’ve configured the widget settings to your liking, click the “Update” button to apply the changes. Then, refresh your website to see the new widget in action. And that’s it!
Create a widget in WordPress: Essential widgets for every website
As mentioned, WordPress widgets come in all shapes and forms. However, there are a few widgets that you should definitely add (or at least consider adding) to your website. Those include:
A search widget allows users to search for specific content on your website. This can be particularly useful for large websites with plenty of content, as it makes it easier for users to find what they’re looking for.
Here’s what a search widget looks like in action:
Social media widgets
Social media widgets can help you connect with your audience and drive traffic to your social media profiles. You can add social media icons to your sidebar or footer, or display your latest social media posts on your website.
Here’s what a social media widget looks like in action:
Recent posts widget
A recent posts widget can be a great way to keep your website visitors up to date on your latest content. You can display a list of your most recent blog posts in the sidebar or footer, along with a thumbnail image and excerpt.
Here’s what a recent posts widget looks like in action:
A calendar widget can be useful for displaying events or scheduling information on your website. You can use it to show upcoming events, deadlines, or other important dates.
Here’s what a calendar widget looks like in action:
Call to action widget
A call to action widget, such as a newsletter sign-up form, can be an excellent way to generate new leads or convert a few visitors.
Here’s what a newsletter widget looks like in action:
Create a widget in WordPress: Tips for using WordPress widgets effectively
Here’s how to get the most out of your WordPress widgets:
Only use the widgets you need
Don’t clutter your website with unnecessary widgets. Instead, only use the widgets that are truly relevant and useful to your website visitors.
Why, you ask?
Well, it boils down to two reasons:
- First, when you add too many widgets to a page, you can distract visitors and steer their attention away from the main content
- Second, the more widgets a page has, the slower it loads, and slow loading times have been proven to affect SEO rankings
Use appropriate widget sizes
Different widgets have different sizes and layouts, so be sure to choose a widget size that fits well with the rest of your website design.
Use descriptive and relevant titles for your widgets
A clear and descriptive title can help users understand what the widget is for and why they should use it.
Let us handle this WordPress mumbo jumbo for you
WordPress can be overwhelming, there’s no denying that, especially if you’re busy running a business. That’s why you ought to leave all of this complicated stuff to us. Book a discovery call with us today!