WordPress widgets are extra features you can add to the sidebar, header and footer of your website. Some examples of widgets include search bars, text boxes and video players, although there are countless more provided by third-party developers. Widgets are added using a simple drag-and-drop tool on the Appearance menu.
Widgets must be added to a predefined location, known as a widget area. These vary from theme to theme but typically include sidebar, header and footer areas. In the example above, there are also special widget areas for a subscription form, an e-commerce sidebar and a “very top” menu bar.
WordPress Widgets Examples
Below are some examples of popular WordPress widgets. You can add many more by installing new plug-ins.
- Audio: Displays an audio player
- Gallery: Displays an image gallery
- Custom HTML: Create custom features and content with HTML
- Recent posts: A list of your site’s most recent blog posts
- Search: A search bar for your website
- Video: Displays a video from the media library or from YouTube or Vimeo
How to Access the Widgets Menu
- Log in to the WordPress admin area
- On the sidebar, hover over Appearance and click Widgets.
This will bring you to the widget menu, where you can add widgets you’ve already installed to your business website.
Note: If you do not see “Widgets” as an option under “Appearance,” it means your current theme does not support any widget areas, meaning there is no way to add widgets to your website. Fortunately, it’s very easy to change themes on WordPress, or you can use custom code to add widget areas to your theme.
How to Use the Widget Menu
To the left are all the available widgets you can add to your website. By default, this includes text boxes, photos, audio players, video players, calendars, search bar, and more. You can add even more widgets by installing new plug-ins, which we explain further down.
To the right are all the available widget areas — predefined areas, coded into your theme, that allow the placement of widgets. Each area corresponds to a different section of your website, such as the sidebar, footer, top bar, and so on.
To add a new widget, simply select one from the left column, and drag it over to the right. To reorder widgets within a menu, simply drag and drop.
How to Install New WordPress Widgets
You can get access to even more widgets by installing new plug-ins to your WordPress website. For example, The Food and Drink Menu plug-in allows you to design a restaurant menu, then add it — or sections of it — as a widget. Other examples include email sign-up forms that integrate with your email marketing system or an e-commerce widget that shows related products.
In short, there are countless ways you can enrich your site with widgets. However, the first step is to find a plug-in that will provide this functionality.
To install new plug-ins:
- On the sidebar, hover over “Plug-ins” and click “Add New.”
- Enter keywords in the top-right search box.
- Find a plug-in you want to try and click “Install Now.”
- Once completed, click “Activate.”
To learn more about plug-ins, including examples, pricing and more detailed instructions, check out our full guide to WordPress plug-ins.
The Bottom Line
There are different schools of thought when it comes to widgets. Undoubtedly, they are a convenient way to customize your site. Not only can you add unique new features, like the industry-specific real estate widgets, but you can control exactly where they appear. On the other hand, too many widgets can crowd your homepage and make your site load slower. It’s best to use them sparingly and opt only for those that add the most value to your website.