WordPress-Widgets & Whatsits



Part IV-Widgets & Whatsits

This is the fourth of a five-part series for newbies to WordPress.  Be sure to join me each Monday for the next two weeks to learn how to set up a WordPress site.

*See Definition of Technical Terms

So exactly what the heck is a widget?  Well, according to Wikipedia, in computing, a web widget is a  “software widget for the web. It’s a small application with limited functionality that can be installed and executed within a web page by an end user.  A widget occupies a portion of a webpage and does something useful with information fetched from other websites and displayed in place.”  When you are browsing the web, it’s typically the information contained in sidebars and footers that hold these widgets or small applications.

Within your own WordPress site, you can view your available widgets by selecting Appearance-Widgets from your dashboard.  Some of the available widgets will be from WordPress, and some will be via your selected theme.  Once on that screen, you can drag widgets to a sidebar on the right to activate them. Simply drag widgets back to the left side of the screen to deactivate them and delete their settings.  Drag to the bottom left of the screen to deactivate them without deleting their settings.  You may drag a widget into different sections of your sidebar, or into different sections of the footer.  Once you have dragged a widget to the right sidebar, select the drop-down menu to open that widget up and change any settings, or add text or an image.  There are many widgets to choose from, including calendars, *tag clouds, and recent posts.

*tag clouds – a display of the most common tags used in your posts

Let’s suppose you have seen a widget on another website that you really like, but don’t see it available within your choices.  You will also see a section called “Plugins” on your dashboard.  View your installed plugins to see what is currently active.  This is also where you can select “add new” and do a search for the type of plugin you would like to add to your site.  For example, I wanted an image plugin to display the large “Visit My Etsy Shop” circular banner displayed in my sidebar.  So I simply did a search for “image widget” and then looked at the ratings and reviews of the plugins produced from my search to decide which widget I wanted to install.

One important note here is that if there is anything that will “break” the code on your website, it will probably be a plugin.  So do your research before installing, and install additional plugins one at a time, checking to make sure with each individual install that your site looks/works correctly.  You can also easily deactivate, or delete, a previously installed plugin from this page.  Once installed, your new plugin will be available on the widget page, or in some cases, directly available on the plugins drop-down menu within your dashboard.

Join me next week for a review of using social media and images on your WordPress site!




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