The Complete Guide to WordPress Widgets (The What, The How, and Code Snippets)

The Complete Guide to WordPress Widgets (The What, The How, and Code Snippets)

WordPress widgets are incredibly useful. They let you add all kinds of extra content to your website outside the body of the post or page itself, encouraging users to get information, follow links, or take action.

In this post, I’m going to show you everything you need to know about WordPress widgets. How to add them to your site, how to create widget areas to put them in, how to install plugins that give you more of them, how to code your own widgets, and lots more.

First, let’s start by identifying what WordPress widgets are.

What are WordPress widgets?

In WordPress, widgets are snippets of content that live outside the flow of the page or post content.

Widgets contain information, navigation or media that is separate from an individual post or page. In most cases, each widget will be displayed on every page in the site, but you can also register widget areas for specific pages such as the home page.

To add a widget to your site, you need to add it to a widget area. Widget areas are created by your theme because they relate to the design and layout of your site and not to functionality.

Most WordPress themes have widget areas in the sidebar and footer, although some will have multiple widget areas in lots of places, such as below or above the content or in the header.

The screenshot below, of one of my own sites, shows widgets in the sidebar and footer.

Widget areas in my site

WordPress comes with a bunch of widgets preloaded so you can use them without having to install any plugins or write any code. But you can also add lots more widgets by installing plugins or coding your own.

These can cover a vast range of content types, such as media, social media feeds, navigation, search, maps and lots more. There’s very little you might want on your site that you can’t find a widget for. In fact, the biggest challenge is often choosing between all the options and not going overboard.

When to Use WordPress Widgets

You should use a widget whenever you want to add extra content to one or more pages in your site (and when I say page, I include posts, archives etc.), but that isn’t part of the content of that page. They’re particularly useful for content you want to show on every page of the site, such as a list of your latest posts, a shopping cart, or a call to action button.

Think about how many users will need access to each widget and how important it is when you decide where to place it. Widgets in the sidebar will be more prominent than those in the footer, which some users may not even see.

So a latest posts widget or a call to action widget might be better off in the sidebar where people have more chance of interacting with them, while a social media feed could go in the footer.

If your theme also has special widget areas for the home page, you might want to use these for navigation around your site’s departments, lists of relevant content, or media

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This article was written by Rachel McCollin and originally published on Blog – Kinsta Managed WordPress Hosting.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the product, We may receive an affiliate commission.

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