If you are a new user to WordPress, it is okay to jump right into blogging after loading a theme. When you are ready to worry about the appearance of your blog it won’t be long until you come across the Widget link in your dashboard under the Appearance panel. Widgets is the place to add functionality to your blog sidebars. There are many sidebar plugins for WordPress and custom or premium themes with widgets for enhanced sidebar features.
Sidebars are the column areas most commonly to the left or right of your primary blog content. If you preview almost any website, you will find areas where featured information, recommended links, or advertising is shared. Here is a basic preview of the WordPress Widgets area.
How To Activate Available Widgets
The Available Widgets area in WordPress comes with a basic set of widgets to get a blog up and running. Basic widgets include Archive, Calendar, Categories, Custom Menus, Links, Meta, Pages, Recent Comments, Recent Posts, RSS, Search, Tag Cloud, and Text. Most are necessary for a user to navigate with ease throughout your blog. The Text widget is not just for text. It offers a lot of functionality because it can have HTML code added to it.
To activate a widget you will place your mouse over the widget until you get the four arrows, left-click the mouse and drag and drop to the desired widget area in the right hand side of the WordPress dashboard. There is usually at least one area called the Primary Widget Area. Once in place the widget area can be opened up by clicking the down arrow allowing further customization specific to the widget type.
The placement of the widget is an automatic save. If you add content or change the default settings, click the save button when the change is complete. Preview your blog to verify the widget is where you want it and it is doing what you expected it to do.
Many widgets can be used more than once. If you want a calendar in two places or need to add code to more than one Text widget, you can do that.
How To Create Inactive Widgets
Sometimes after creating a widget and saving its settings you find it isn’t what you wanted. You might also need to remove a widget that is not working until you figure out the correct code or you want to save a widget that is seasonal. The Inactive Widgets area is where you can drag and drop widgets that are temporarily out of use. Please note if you change a theme or remove a plugin that had custom widgets you may lose those particular inactive widgets.
Managing Custom Widgets
Custom widgets are widgets not part of the standard WordPress installation. They could be widgets that were installed with a particular theme or plugin. They will just appear in the Available Widgets area after the theme or plugin is activated. Sometimes a custom widget isn’t managed in the Widgets area exclusively. You might have to visit the plugin settings or theme options area in the dashboard panel to find the link to the special plugin settings. After the plugin or theme options are set up you would then visit the Widgets area to move the widget from Available Widgets to the desired widget area.
Theme Specific Widget Areas
In addition to custom widgets, depending on which theme you use, you could have more areas to populate than just the Primary Widget Area. Some premium themes might allow you to create a specialized home page, custom pages differing from the home page, and header or footer areas.
Depending on if the developer has detailed documentation or not, it could take a few tries to get widget content in the correct widget area if there are a lot of them. It is all trial and error and part of the fun of creating your own blog in WordPress.
With that said, remember fun is the keyword to blogging. Setting up your blog and designing it on your own only adds to the enthusiasm. Keep blogging!