Using WordPress widgets for an improved blogging experience

Widget is a funny name, but as with many other names online, it’s largely become a commonplace term within the blogging community, at least the blogging community that uses the world-renowned WordPress blogging software.

What are WordPress widgets?

“WordPress widgets” is a term that is used to describe the easy-to-use sidebar functions in any of the widget ready WordPress themes. From within your WordPress blog’s administration area, through the use of client-side scripting languages; Ajax and JavaScript, users can “click and drag” certain sidebar elements and rearrange them to meet their ideal sidebar setup. These elements include the blog search box, links, pages, meta (containing admin login links, rss feed links), categories, most recent posts and text-box elements.

Today, nearly all up-to-date WordPress themes are widget ready, meaning that instead of manually having to modify code in the sidebar.php file for your active WordPress template to get your desired look, in order to modify the look of your WordPress themes’ sidebar, you only need to click on the desired element to add it to the sidebar or re-arrange the elements in any widget ready theme.

Easy to use WordPress “widgetry”

WordPress, in and of itself, has always been user friendly; self-installation of the blogging software is a breeze for anybody who has experience using FTP software, and installation is even easier if your web server has Fantastico installed with your website’s control panel. Installing WordPress using Fantastico literally offers a 2 click install of this popular blogging software.

Offering widget ready WordPress themes only adds to the simplicity of using WordPress; literally offering its non-technical users the ability to click and drag their way to a customized blogging experience.

Where to find widget ready WordPress Themes

There are hundreds of websites that offer WordPress themes, but probably the most comprehensive database of WordPress themes is at the WordPress website itself; having over 1,500 free WordPress blog templates that you can choose from. You can limit your search by color, number of columns, fluid-width or fixed width themes, widget ready themes, templates with rounded corners and even limit the theme search to sidebars that appear on the left or right side of the template.

You can take a check out a large database of WordPress themes using the WordPress theme viewer.

Popular and Powerful WordPress Widgets

The WordPress website offers a comprehensive list of WordPress widgets, though some of links are a bit out of date. You can check out some of the available WordPress widgets here and here.

However, we would like to point out a couple of the more popular WordPress widgets and how they can improve your blogging experience.

If you’ve messed around with WordPress themes that are widget ready, you know about the text-boxes that you can add to or rearrange on your sidebar. ExecPHP is a text-box widget with a twist; one where you can insert PHP code into it and the code will execute. While running this text-box widget essentially does exactly what adding the PHP code to your sidebar.php will do, when using it as a widget, it becomes a point, click and copy operation instead of having to edit the sidebar.php file manually.

Flexi Pages Widget
The Flexi Pages Widget can give users more freedom to configure and control the pages widget on any widget ready WordPress theme.

IM Online
IM Online is a WordPress widget that will display your online status using popular instant messaging platforms such as AOL, MSN, Yahoo!, Jabber, Google Talk and Skype; giving your blog readership the ability to see when you are available, and contact you, no matter what instant messaging platform they prefer.

Because WordPress offers a blogging platform that is continually growing in popularity, it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate your WordPress blog from the tens of thousands already online. By using widget ready WordPress themes, you are easily able to make your blog unique simply by clicking and dragging any number of freely available WordPress widgets into your templates sidebar; thus almost guaranteeing a unique experience for your blogs readership. “Widget” may indeed be a funny name, but even so, you sure can’t deny the fact that these gizmos with a funny name are easy to use.

4 thoughts on “Using WordPress widgets for an improved blogging experience

  1. I absolutely love the widget idea, and my Kudos go out to Matt and company for making plugins easier to use by widgetizing them.

    And, as a plugin author, my kudos again to Matt et al for making it easy for coders to create them :)

  2. I actually work for Yahoo! Widgets, so the term “widget” is particularly annoying to me… but yeah they’re mostly very cool.

  3. A bit off topic but what is the widget ready wordpress theme? I know it is compatible with various widgets but what is the difference?

  4. @Proxy,
    not every is theme is widget ready, you can check this via the WP backend, if widgets are available it’s a ready theme otherwise not…

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