Previously, we learned about menus which make it easy for your visitors to get around your ever expanding site and content. If you missed that you can go back to Menus.
With this growing site of yours, we only have a few basics left: widgets and plugins. Today’s focus is widgets.
What is a Widget
If you look to the right side of this page, there is a sidebar. The contents of that sidebar are widgets. A widget is a thingie. . . just kidding. . . it is a block on your site that performs a special function or job. It could collect information to add a visitor to an email list, list out blog post categories, or your latest posts.
Some widgets are built into WordPress and other’s come from themes and plugins.
Where do Widgets Go
Your theme gives the overall appearance and layout of your site. Any good theme has special areas set up as widget areas. Widget areas set aside space to hold widgets and are often found in sidebars, headers, and footers. They can also be set up in posts and pages. To see where your site is ready to hold a widget, login and go to your backend then navigate to Appearance > Widgets.
On the left side of the page, titled Available Widgets you see all of the widgets available from WordPress, your theme, and your plugins. This list can get quite big.
On the right side you see blocks indicating all of the currently available widget areas. These indicate all of the blocks on your site where widgets can go.
How to Add a Widget
Widgets within Available Widgets have a little triangle expander on the right corner. Clicking this opens a list of widget areas where you can place this widget. Just click on the widget area you would like the widget to be used in and it will appear on the right side of the screen within the widget area. The nice thing about widgets is that they are reusable–you can use the same widget multiple times, even in the same widget area. You can also drag widgets from the left, Available Widgets area to the right widget areas and drop it on a widget area.
Configuring a Widget Area
The widget areas on the right side of the Widgets page also have a little triangle expander on the corner.
Expanding a widget area shows all the widgets currently assigned to that area and the order that they are in. It is simple enough to reorder them by dragging and dropping them to a new position in the widget area. You can even move them to a different widget area. The Divi theme allows you to create new widget areas that you can use anywhere you can use the Divi editor. This enables you to place a widget area right on a page or post.
Configuring a Widget
Clicking a widget’s expander triangle shows more details about the widget. Often a form appears offering you customization options like adding a title, choosing some options for how the widget should function in this place. This customization can make two versions of the same widget appear different and serve a different purpose.
Play around with your widget areas and widgets. Bounce yourself back and forth between the front and back end so you can see the effect of your changes and try to get the hang of what is possible with widgets.
The last topic in the 101 course takes you through adding plugins to your site to perform special functions. Some of them even add new widgets you can use. Stay tuned and get ready to learn about plugins.