Learn what widgets are and how you can use them within WordPress, and how to add widgets to your WordPress site.
What are Widgets?
Widgets allow you to add differing functionality and differing features to your site without needing to write code. They are tiny blocks of specific functionality that you can place in your WordPress sidebar. This can be a really easy way to add in functions such as galleries, quotes, popular posts, social media boxes, and more without having any prior coding knowledge.
Adding Widgets to a Sidebar in WordPress
Widgets can be found under Appearance > Widgets. This will show you a list of all of the available widgets you can add to your site. On the right you will see the designated areas that you can add widgets to. These are called sidebars or widget-ready areas and are determined by your WordPress theme. If there is a specific widget you are looking for but can’t find listed in this area you can likely add it using a plugin which we’ll cover later on.
There are a multitude of ways to add widgets to your sidebar, the easiest of which being just dragging and dropping the desired widget into a sidebar. You can also click on the widget title from the list of available widgets, which will trigger a pop-up box showing you a list of sidebars that you can add the widget to. Select the sidebar you want to add the widget to and then click Add Widget.
There is also an accessibility options for those who may need it. To enable accessibility mode simply click on Screen Options at the top of the screen and click on the Enable accessibility mode button. This will change the interface of the widgets screen. Each widget will now have a simple Add button that when clicked will send the user to an accessible screen where the desired sidebar can be easily selected.
The widgets page is not the only way to add widgets to your site. You can also do so by going to Appearance > Customize. It’s important to note that when using this method not all of your widgets and sidebars will show up in the customizer. This is why we recommend using the widgets page, but widgets can be added through either method.
How to Remove a Widget from WordPress
Removing a widget in WordPress is just as easy as adding them. You will need to go back to the widgets page under Appearance > Widgets. Look for the widget that you would like to remove within your sidebar and then click on the widget title to expand it. Below the widget settings you will see a Delete button. Deleting a widget will remove it from your sidebar and will also disable any related widget settings that you may have set up.
Some widgets are very simple and don’t have many settings to configure, while others can be more complex. If you wish to remove a widget from the sidebar without deleting any of the related settings you can simply drag and drop the widget out of the sidebar and into the inactive widgets section. This will still remove the widget from your site but will save the settings you have entered in case you ever want to reactivate this widget in the future. Deleting or rendering a widget inactive does not remove it from the list of available widgets and you can always re-add widgets after removing them.
What can Widgets be Used For?
Widgets are an incredibly powerful and flexible tool in WordPress and developers have been using them in many different innovative ways. As a WordPress site owner, you can take advantage of that to add almost anything imaginable to your WordPress site. If you are comfortable with code, then you may also want to learn how to create a custom WordPress widget of your own. A default WordPress installation comes with some built-in widgets like recent posts, recent comments, archives, search, and more. Many plugins also come with their own widgets, meaning virtually any feature you want to add to your site can be found within a widget.