Widgets, the handy features built right into your WordPress.com dashboard, allow you to add cool features to your site so you can make it your online home. Have you poked around in Appearance → Widgets, recently? We want to make sure you know how quick and simple it is to activate — and customize — widgets. If you haven’t enabled them already, try these:
Tried-and-true, the Search Widget adds a search box to your sidebar or footer and allows readers to search for posts and pages in your archives. You can spruce up this widget by personalizing the title to match the theme or niche of your blog. Food bloggers, for example, can cook up a search form like this (as shown on the Adelle theme):
With the Custom Menu Widget, you can display specific pages and categories, as well as custom links, in your sidebar or footer. (To use it, you need to create a custom menu.) Many of you display custom menus near the top of your site, in your primary navigation area, as well as in a secondary menu location — if your theme allows it.
A Custom Menu Widget is just another way to steer your readers to where you’d like them to go, and many bloggers insert custom links to external sites — from a writer’s social media profiles to an artist’s portfolio site to a WordPresser’s second site for photoblogging. Here’s an example of how to quickly direct your visitors to your other projects online, as displayed on the Delicious Magazine theme:
The Milestone Widget offers a visual countdown to a specific date. While brides and grooms-to be using wedding websites like Forever and Ever After activate this widget to count down to the big day, we’ve seen other creative uses, from runners training for marathons to novelists with self-imposed deadlines to write a certain number of pages (something we often see during NaNoWriMo).
Getting ready for a race? See the Milestone Widget in action on the new Trvl theme:
The Upcoming Events Widget allows you to use an iCalendar link to display a list of events. (You can use Google Calendar to create a calendar, list upcoming events, and get an iCalendar Feed URL, which is explained on the widget’s support page.) While this widget was created with musicians in mind, it’s handy for any kind of event list — an author’s book signings, a collaborative blog’s posting schedule, an organization’s upcoming events, and more. See it in action on the Twenty Thirteen theme:
The styling of each widget depends on your current theme, so your widgets may not look like these examples. Also, remember you can opt to show or hide specific widgets using the widget visibility tool, which offers more control over what widgets you’d like to display when readers view certain pages on your site.
So, what are you waiting for? Get widgety.
Jun 26th at 6:45 pm
I could really use a widget that allows me to display a points table for a sporting competition. Any chance of something like this becoming available?
Jun 26th at 6:47 pm
What about customizing the widgets size? I linked in a widget from raffelcopter, but I can’t expand my sidebar to fit the whole thing. Now my viewers can only see half of the contest entry form. I also tried to embed the widget in my post, but it just came up as a hyperlink.
Jun 26th at 7:35 pm
Thanks for this, I’ve been wondering how to get a set of links to my other sites! Using the Milestone widget to count down to my retirement – shame it doesn’t count at a lower level than months, though.
Jun 26th at 7:46 pm
Hey Cheri. I like the widgets and usually make them work for me. Recently I changed to the Auto Focus theme and my widgets disappeared. I can look in the dashboard and see the widgets, but they do not appear on my blog. Is there something I have to enable?
Jun 26th at 8:13 pm
I went a good couple of weeks being scared of the widgets! I think I have them figured out now and they make the blogs a bit more interesting. Always nice to see how many total hits there have been! Quite nerving to think that many people have looked at what I’ve written!!
Jun 26th at 8:31 pm
I’d love to see some options for that countdown widget, like counting days rather than months. Sometimes every day closer matters!
Jun 26th at 8:55 pm
I’m new to blogging. This article was very helpful. I’m going to see if I have a custom menu widget and hopefully use it.
Jun 26th at 9:04 pm
I like the widgets. Is there a widget to display all my social networking links?
Jun 26th at 10:34 pm
Ha! I just added the ‘search’ widget, using the title ‘SURF MY CHANNEL!’, which ties in with the blog subtitle: ‘One Author’s Very Own Discovery Channel’. Thanks for the idea Cheri!
Jun 27th at 12:31 am
Do you have any tips for image widgets? The trouble I had was at first I had images in color but my header image is in black and white and I wanted it to match. I had a mix match of color and black and white images and from the widget you don’t get the thumbnail image. I counted images so I could remove the images that didn’t match and was going back and forth too many times from the widget page and then over to view it and often I miscounted because of the automatic scrolling.
What would be great, fantastic, awesome, would be if the thumbnail image would appear on the blue header of each and every widget.
Jun 27th at 12:41 am
How do I add ‘other posts you might like’ at the bottom of each post?
Jun 27th at 1:33 am
I love the milestone widget. I wish you can add a clock or a chatbox in the widget. I know it sounds so 15 years ago, but I do like the little chatbox in my right sidebar.
PS Off topic, do you have a free theme that has a self-customizable header where the photo of the blog post becomes the header whenever you click an article?
Jun 27th at 4:24 am
I love widgets. Hope there will be more new widgets coming
Jun 27th at 7:32 am
Thanks — this is really helpful for the non-techy beginning blogger such as myself!
Jun 27th at 11:13 am
Thanks for the tip. What an easy way to enhance one’s site.
Jun 27th at 11:25 am
I think I will use that in my blog for the upcoming events.
Jun 27th at 11:34 am
i have been experimenting with the image widget lately adding clickable images to my sidebar. They add visual interest to my blog and help visitors navigate to my current project no matter what page they land on.
Jun 27th at 11:59 am
Thanks a lot! I was looking for a way to show a list of posts from one particular category on a posts page only. I could not found any option till today. After reading this post, I went through the category widget and with the help of shortcode and the visibility option, I got the exact effect I was looking for.
Jun 28th at 2:25 am
This is great! Just a while ago I was wondering how to get more efficient with these! Definitely trying out the news one now!
Jun 29th at 10:35 pm
The visibility option has added a lot more control over my blog irrespective of which theme I use. It has made a big difference, thanks!
Jun 30th at 9:49 pm
Thanks for this article! I added the upcoming events and the countdown. Great Info!~
Jul 1st at 12:05 am
Oh great post…I just started my blog and had no idea what a ‘widget’ was?? I didn’t want to get carried away with them though so I’ve tried out a few and see how we go…..
Jul 1st at 6:46 am
I use widgets like a boss, having them appear of disappear based on which page is being displayed. The power and flexibility of widgets has improved my wordpress experience ten-fold. Thank you!
Jul 2nd at 6:02 pm
I recently migrated my Blogger to WordPress, and while I am mostly satisfied with the layout, options and widgets, I wish the archives widget were more refined like the one I had back at Blogger. It had a nice drop-down menu that allowed you to see the posts under each year/month. That was the easiest/most efficient way for my readers to find other posts of interest. Since I don’t have that, my readers cannot see the depth of my posts, which limits overall traffic on my blog. They could do a search or use categories/tags, but it’s not very convenient. As a solution, I created a page of archives at the top and manually copied every post I’ve every done and its link. Now when I do a new post, I have to go in and add it to the archive. It just seems like this is something that other WordPress users would want. The archives widget at WordPress only lets you click the year/month and then shows you all the posts for that – which isn’t very helpful for facilitating more exploring of my blog. Any thoughts or ideas on this? Am I just totally missing something here? Thanks!
Jul 8th at 8:13 am
I want to enable comment love for my blog (http://firsttraveltodubai.wordpress.com), Any widget available?
Jul 8th at 7:05 pm
Thanks Cheri Lucas Rowlands! I am already using this widget I was just wondering If I could enable commluv on my free blog. http://wordpress.org/plugins/commentluv/
Jul 8th at 7:40 pm
Agreed, I already have comment luv enabled on my self hosted blog http://kuchdesihojaye.com with a pinterest style theme. I was just hoping someone might have developed any third party type of widget or extension which could enable commentluv on free wordpress blogs. Anyway comment luv works perfectly on self hosted blogs.
Thanks Cheri Lucas