WordPress Widgets add features and functions to your website. They are small blocks of content that allow you to supplement your website with additions such as a menu, calendar, social media feed, photo gallery and many more. The beauty is that you don't need to know the code to complement your website with eye-catching elements. Free WordPress Widgets are designed to place them on your website with easy drag and drop movement.
Continue reading and learn how to add Widget to your WordPress site. Additionally, find out more about Widget Areas and an alternative way to work with Widgets from advanced frontend-editor.
WordPress Widget Areas Explained
Widgets Areas are specially encoded places in your WordPress theme that let you insert the desired function into one of them using a Widget. To make it easier to understand what is a place for Widgets, here is a quick insight into the structure of a WordPress theme.
WordPress Theme Components
WordPress theme consists of different types of content. Primary pages and blogs are followed by custom content, which is usually customized by the theme's author. Each theme is usually dedicated to a specific category. For example, the content of a theme can be customized to the restaurant's website, providing content fields such as menu, order form, etc. By adding e-commerce, the theme allows content for an online shop.
All these content types have main content spaces - the areas you can place your unique content. For example, a place where you write a blog post serves as the main body text. Product description, pricing, or any other element of an e-store is the main content of the theme that you can add your own data. The same goes for content that classed as a Widget.
Additionally, WordPress themes contain several standard elements that are by default. It can be a header that consists of the name of your website, a logo area, footer, navigation menu and other attributes. Usually, the positioning of these elements cannot be changed unless the theme builder comes with help.
When producing a WordPress theme, the author usually tries to include all the important elements in it. But no matter how good the theme is, it is impossible to apply it to everyone's needs. Someone will want to display social icons; another will want to include a blog archive or an image gallery with top products in the sidebar. This is where Widgets and Widget Areas come in.
Let's start with finding Widgets and continue with an example where I will show how easy it is to work with Widgets.
How to Add a WordPress Widget?
You can find Widgets and Widget Areas in the WordPress dashboard by going to the Appearance > Widgets section.
As you start with WordPress, you get a basic list of Widgets. Depending on the theme you use, you may have access to Widgets such as Archives, Custom HTML, Image, Recent Posts, Recent Comments, Navigation Menu, etc.
To add Widgets to one of the available Widget Areas, simply go to the element and drag it to the right side area. To give you a better idea, here's an example of how with some maneuver, I added extra features to my simple blog site.
In this example, I chose Starter Theme, which offers Widget Areas for Sidebar and Menu. At first, they are empty spaces, but free to supplement with free Widgets.
This is how the Widget Area looks from the admin when I go to Appearance > Widgets.
And this is how the blog page looks for the visitors.
As the theme's design and settings provide a sidebar field so you can include more information on the blog, why not make it more interesting to the readers. To do so, you simply go back to the WordPress admin and under Appearance > Widgets customize the Widget Area.
As an example, I want my blog sidebar to have a search field, little information about me, a picture gallery and video with my favorite travel music. To add that, we need to find and drag all the desired elements to the Widget Area, add the necessary information to each of the Widgets, and click Save.
At the top, you see the admin section of my blog where I have placed four Widgets in the Sidebar Widget Area. I've written a title, description, and placed images for each Widget. All this took me no more than five minutes, as a result of which my blog site now looks like this:
This is an easy way for you to enrich your site with information that will give your site visitors more opportunities to know about you, about your products or your business. A sidebar is a great place for related and informational content. Although one of the most popular Widget Areas, the sidebar is not the only place where Widgets can be deployed.
The Widget Area can also be in the header, footer, or below every blog article, for example, to put a widget that tells about an author who wrote a specific article, usually names “Author”. Basically, the Widget can be placed all over your homepage if the theme you are using has included the relevant Widget Area in its code foundation.
By default, WordPress offers fifteen different Widgets. To give you an idea of what Widgets are available to you right away, here's a list.
Default Free WordPress Widgets
- Archives – monthly archive of your site’s posts;
- Audio – displays an audio player;
- Calendar – schedule of your posts;
- Categories – list or dropdown of all categories;
- Custom Menu – create a custom menu;
- Image – display an image;
- Meta – display login, RSS, and WordPress.org links;
- Pages – list of all pages;
- Recent Comments – most recent comments;
- Recent Posts – most recent posts;
- RSS – entries from any RSS or Atom feed;
- Search – displays a simple search form;
- Tag Cloud – a group of the most used tags;
- Text – add text, images, videos or any HTML code;
- Video – displays a video from the media library or YouTube, Vimeo, or another provider.
If you want more Widgets then you have to look for a WordPress plugin that offers customizable Widgets. The second option is from the beginning, choose a theme that has all the Widget Areas you need already encoded. And the Widgets themselves. This will make it easier for you to prepare your website and ensure that you can make a site that you originally planned.
Now, let's look at the most popular and useful WordPress Widgets, which are complementary to countless WordPress websites.
Most Popular and Useful WordPress Widgets
There are heaps of WordPress plugins that offer free Widgets to be placed into your Widget Areas. All you need to do is stick to the website layout, design and functionality plan and decide which Widgets will be added to your WordPress toolkit.
Before going through the extensive Widgets list, it is important to understand that Widgets are hidden under Plugins. To add a new Widget other than the default WordPress or Widgets included in your theme, you will first need to download and activate the plugin that offers your needed Widgets.
Here is a good example. Let's go along with the Widget adding process. I will add my social media account to the travel blog I used as a sample before.
Sample: Adding a Social Media Icons Widget
Linking your social media account with your WordPress site extends your business. Your website visitors will be glad to know you have an inspiring Instagram account, and Facebook users will find it interesting to research your projects via your Facebook page.
Here are a just few of free Social Media plugins that allow Widgets:
- Social Media Share Buttons & Social Sharing Icons
- Social Media Widget by Acurax
- Floating Social Media Icons
In my sample, I will be using the Social Media Widget by Acurax. To follow with me, first, from your WordPress dashboard > Plugins you need to search for the plugin and click Install Now > Activate.
Once done, you will have a new toolkit included in the right menu, called “Social Media Widget Settings”. Click on it and start customizing.
Here you choose the look of your icons, the order which you can reorder as you like. Once done, all you have to do is do social media configuration, adding URLs and user names, and click Save.
Now when you go to Appearance > Widgets, you will see a new Social Media Widget element available to drag to one of your Widget Areas.
I chose to add my social media icons (YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook) to the Menu Widget Area to display them on the top of my blog.
Now when you know how to add customized Widget to your WordPress site, let's continue with the list of other useful Widgets.
Newsletter Sign Up Box Widget
A place for your website visitors to enter their information - email, name, and other data relevant to the offer. Then the information left by the reader is sent to the subscription service. Here are just a few of Newsletter Sign Up or Subscription Box plugins (Widgets) here:
Instagram Feed Widget
All or some of your inspiring Instagram photos can be shown up on your website by using an appropriate widget. Reposting Instagram can really boost your site with an extra glance of colorful photography. Below you will find some of the useful Instagram Feed plugins:
Google Map Widget
A very useful Widget if you need to show a physical location. By placing a store address in the sidebar, your header or footer will allow your visitors to easily find your business address. Introducing with some of the wide range of Google Map widgets:
Login Area Widget
Username and password field if your website provides a membership service. Check out some of the following Widgets:
If your WordPress site consists of articles written by different authors, then Widget for Authors will be useful, allowing you to put a list of bloggers with a link to that specific author's posts.
Quick Contact Widget
A contact form for your visitors that provides quick communication for any issue. Instead of building a special landing page for a contact form, you can use the Widget offered by several plugin owners, some of them:
Related Posts Widget
Related posts are a good way to keep your readers stay on your blog. Place a Widget below the posts area to display your other content in the footer. Try one of the following free related posts widgets:
Pricing Table Widget
This Widget allows you to display the prices of different products or services where it will attract the visitor's attention. You can place a Pricing Table Widget on the sidebar or in the middle of the main content. With the help of a relevant plugin, you can locate your price table as you like. Here are some of the most popular plugins that allow Pricing Table Widgets:
- Pricing Table – Price list, Price Table, Easy Pricing Table
- Responsive Pricing Table
- WRC Pricing Tables
Above I made an in-depth list of most popular Widgets, however, it is not complete. Below you can find more Widgets that you may find useful in a particular web project.
- Social Count and Share Buttons
- Featured Posts
- Popular Posts
- Posts from a specific Category
- Testimonials Widget
- Image Slider
- Social Media Feed (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.)
- Facebook Like Button
You can always find third-party plugins for Widget you need by simply search one using Google or WordPress.org repository.
Now that we have looked at how to add Widgets using WordPress's features (sometimes limited because of defined Widget Areas) it is time to learn more advanced approaches. If you make your website using a drag and drop website builder then you will find it interesting to learn how the Visual Composer offers to use WordPress default Widget and WordPress custom Widgets in its front-end editor.
Add WordPress Widgets Using Visual Composer
Visual Composer Website Builder allows you to add two types of WordPress Widgets: default and custom widgets. The best thing is that you can choose where to place the Widget. So, using the Visual Composer that works as a theme builder, you no longer depend on the defined Widget Areas.
All you have to do is prepare the Widget layout from Appearance > Widgets as we did before and then add it through the Visual Composer editor (with the help of an element) wherever you want.
To add a WordPress widget, open a post or a page using Visual Composer editor and search for the “Widgetized Sidebar” element inside the Visual Composer Hub. Once you add the element to your layout you will see Edit window with parameters and drop-down to select a specific Widget.
WordPress Default Widgets
WordPress Widget content element allows you to add any WordPress default widget.
The Widget will automatically retrieve all available widgets and set them as an option within the drop-down menu.
WordPress Custom Widgets
WordPress Custom Widget content element allows you to add any custom widget that has been added to your WordPress site via 3rd party plugin or theme.
As you remember, I was available to place Social Media Icons Widget only on two areas: Sidebar and Menu. But using Visual Composer along with the WordPress Custom Widget element, I am free to choose the widget location. Here you can see that I have added social icons widget in the footer of my travel blog:
In addition to these Visual Composer elements, you have the ability to manage Visual Composer-made templates from WordPress dashboard > Appearance > Widgets.
Visual Composer Template Widgets
To add a Visual Composer Widget, search for the Template Widget element inside the Visual Composer Hub, and click download (available for Premium users). The WordPress will recognize the new Visual Composer Widget element and include it the available widgets on Appearance > Widgets.
Pre-designed modules, such as subscribe form, call to action buttons, contact form, promotional banners, testimonials or social icons, can now be added to your site using a well-known manner.
In order to add a template widget, first, you need to have saved Visual Composer template. Once you have that, you are ready to add the widget:
- Navigate to Appearance > Widgets in your WordPress admin panel;
- Drag and drop the widget to the sidebar area;
- Choose a template from “Visual Composer Template Widget” to be displayed in the sidebar of your site, and click Save.
WordPress Widgets and Widget Areas is an effective way to complement your website with various features and information. Your page visitors will appreciate being able to find the information they need: contact form, your social accounts, prices, etc.
In this article, you learned that there are different ways to add Widgets and how to prepare (choose the right theme) to make the Widget Area available. Plus, you are familiar with the easy way to manage your Widgets using the advanced Visual Composer WordPress Widget elements.