What is a widget, and why use them?
Widgets are pre-organised actions that appear in the “Sidebar” of your blog.
We already saw that “Meta” is a widget. One of the pre-organised actions in the “Meta” widget is “Site Admin“, a hidden link that brings you back to your Dashboard.
Widgets save you a lot of time because you don’t have to create all those hidden links with hidden actions behind them. It’s already there.
In our default theme, there are 6 widgets already installed in the Sidebar. You can delete them and replace them with others, as long as you only leave 6 of them in the “Primary Widget Area” of your widget page.
The “Widgets” Page in your Dashboard
Go to your Dashboard, look at the “Appearance” menu on the left side of the page, and click on “Widgets“. A new page appears.
On the right side, there is a list of “places” where you can put widgets in your sidebar. One of them says : “Primary Widget Area“. Click on the little triangle and it opens up, showing the 6 defaults widgets.
Deleting a widget
To delete a widget, just place your mouse over it and “drag-and-drop” it until a place at the bottom centre of the page, that says: “Inactive Widgets“. For instance, you can drop the widget “Archive” there.
Now you only have 5 widgets in your “Primary Widget Area“, therefore you can add a new one.
Scroll up the Dashboard/Widget page again, and there is a title that says “Available widgets“, with a whole list of items below it. Choose one, drag-and-drop it until a place that will show up in the “Primary Widget Area“.
What to choose?
Perplexed again, huh?
Let’s Keep It Simple, Sweetheart. Firstly, forget about all the unknown bizarre words like “Akismet” etc. You don’t need to bother with that.
Secondly, there are items that you already have in your sidebar, like “Meta” and “Categories”. Forget about them again.
Here are a few useful things.
The “Text” Widget
There is a widget called “Text”. It is a place where you write something that will appear in the sidebar of your blog, an introduction, a few lines of poetry, or an author’s sentence. Drag-and-drop the “Text” widget into your “Primary Widget Area“.
There is a box in which a line says: “Title:” and a field below. Type the title of your text there (if there is no text, write nothing).
Below that field, there is a place for you to type just anything you like. Type your introduction text.
For instance, look at the sidebar of this blog of mine, at the bottom: there is a “Text widget” that says “Links”. “Links” was the title. And below, I typed the introduction to another site, with its hidden link.
You can place anything you want in a “Text” widget, like your list of favorite sites, small images, and even videos. BUT, for a link, an image or a video to appear there, they must be typed under the form of their HTML codes. How can you do that?
Very easy. Create a new post in your blog and call it “HTML code”. Insert an image, or type the word link and click on the chain to create a hidden link, for every item you want to put in your “Text” widget.
Then, go to HTML mode and copy all the HTML codes there and paste them in a little wordpad page in your computer (so that you don’t lose them). All you have to do now is to paste these HTML codes in your “Text” widget. (Don’t forget to delete this “HTML code” post or it will appear in your blog).
Don’t forget to tick “Automatically add paragraphs“.
Click on “Save” (a little wheel turns). Then “close“. Notice the possibility to also click “Delete“.
Click on your page name on top of page, your blog appears: look at your brand new Sidebar.
The RSS Widget
Here is another fun thing.
For instance, your friend has a great blog and you want to show it to your visitors in your blog. You can make its most recent posts appear in your Sidebar. And when you friend adds a new post, it will show up on top of the list. Yes, in YOUR blog. All you need to have is its URL.
In the “Available Widgets” list, drag the one that says just “RSS“.
But you tell me : “The Primary Widget Area already holds 6 widgets and it does not accept another one”.
That’s right, it is the default setting of this specific theme we have chosen to keep. But that’s why there is a “Secondary Widget Area“. Open it with the little triangle.
Now, drag and drop the “RSS” widget there.
Now, drop the RSS in the “Secondary Widget Area” and a box opens. The first line says: “Enter the RSS feed URL there” (that means, the URL of the blog you have chosen to show) and there is a field below. Type that URL.
Below, it says “Give the feed a title (optional)“. You can write a little introduction to the chosen blog, or nothing, as you like.
Then: “How many items will you display?” : type any number between 1 and 10.
Finally, there are 3 boxes to tick or not tick, I suggest you try them to see what they do.
Click “Save“. Then “Close“.
Go to your blog home page to see how your new sidebar looks like.
Try other widgets to see what you can do with them.
Nothing will explode, and if something does not work, or does something you don’t like, you can delete them.