WordPress Widgets are little self contained apps, that you can drag and drop into your sidebar and they will magically display all kinds of information there, that is pulled from the content of your site.
WordPress comes complete with a standard set of Widgets, but if you go to WordPress.org you can find 13,817 plugins there as of this writing, most of which will tranform into some type of widget
You can find the Widgets SubPanel in the left column or your Dashboard under “Appearance”. Here is a brief overview of the standard WordPress widgets:
- Archives: Creates a monthly list of your posts
- Categories: a list of your blog categories
- Meta: an assortment of links for logging in and out, as well as links to WordPress and the RSS feed.
- Recent Comments: displays links to recent comments if you have them enabled. You can select the number of comments you wish to show.
- RSS: a link to the rss feed of your posts
- Tag Cloud: your tags arranged on a cloud format
- Calendar: a calendar listing of your posts
- Custom Menu: Displays a custom menu if you have created one. ( as of WordPress 3.0)
- Links: shows a list of links you have created in the Links panel
- Pages: a list of your pages
- Recent Posts: a list of your recent posts. You can set the number of posts you want to show.
- Search: a search button for your site
- Text: a very useful widget that can contain text, images and links. I use this one often.
Installing a plugin
To install a widget you can either download it from WordPress, unzip the file and place it into your plugins folder via FTP. Then activate it via the dashboard;
A simpler way for a beginner is to click on “Plugins” on your dashboard, then click “add new”. This will bring you to a search window where you may search for what you are looking for. When you find the right plugin, download it from WordPress and install it automatically . Then activate it. How amazing is that?
Many plugins have advanced options that are accessible in the settings tab or sometimes in the widget configurations panel. It all depends on how the creator of the plugin has set it up. Many plugins also have dedicated websites, where you can find more detailed information about how to use it.