WordPress To Go - How To Build A WordPress Website On Your Own Domain, From Scratch, Even If You Are A Complete Beginner (2013)

QUICK START GUIDE – YOUR OWN WEBSITE IN 8 EASY LESSONS

Lesson 8. All About Widgets

Now that you have your website loaded up with some content, it’s time to add a few refinements to make your site appear useful and well-designed. You can do this by inserting widgets in the sidebar of your website.

What are ‘widgets’? Widgets are very handy little chunks of functionality that perform common tasks. You, the webmaster, choose which widgets you want to use to perform additional tasks to improve your website’s appearance and performance.

Examples of widgets include:

·               List of categories in your website

·               Links to your latest posts

·               Custom menus

All these widgets are clickable hotlinks that guide your visitors around your website.

As you can see in Figure 8.1, I have put into the sidebar of keepingchickens.net the Categories, Recent Posts, Archives and Tag Cloud widgets. It’s up to you what you use on your site because, as you can see, there are a lot of widgets to choose from.

One of the primary functions of widgets is to provide different ways of navigating your site. But you can also add text widgets that not only display text but which can contain computer code. We’ll cover these text widgets in Lesson 11.

The number and position of the widgets you can use will depend on the theme you are using. The Twenty Twelve theme allows you to insert widgets into your sidebar and, optionally, in up to two footer areas across the bottom of a static front page.

Other themes may allow you to put widgets in your header area or at the bottom of individual pages.

Here’s how to set up widgets:

From the dashboard, click on ‘Appearance’, ‘Widgets’. The ‘Widgets’ screen is shown in Figure 8.2:

Add Some Sidebar Widgets

In the previous lesson we discussed using categories when writing posts. You can group all your posts into categories by placing a ‘Categories’ widget in your sidebar. When a visitor clicks on a category they will be shown only your latest posts in this category – they won’t see posts in other categories that do not interest them.

The really neat thing about this widget is that it all works completely automatically. You don’t have to do anything except to code your posts with the required category: WordPress takes care of all the sorting and filtering for you and the widget will update automatically.

I encourage you to experiment for yourself and see what the widgets fit in with your ideas for your own site.

To insert a widget into the sidebar simply click and drag it from the main body of the screen to the ‘Main Sidebar’ box over on the right. When you do this, a ‘Save’ button will pop up and all you have to do is click that and you’re done. You will see that there are often options with widgets and you can usually insert your own titles. When you have saved a widget, click ‘Close’.

If you want to rearrange the order of the widgets in the sidebar simply drag and drop them, up and down, until you have them as you want. You don’t even need to save the sidebar: it stays as you last left it!

Please note that widgets won’t work unless you have already set up the content that you want to display. For example, a ‘Recent Posts’ widget won’t display anything until you have actually added some posts to your website.

The easiest way for you to find out what widgets can do for your website it to experiment. Play around by clicking and dragging widgets into the Sidebar and Footer Areas and see how it looks. You can add and delete widgets as much as you wish.

Delete Unwanted Widgets

If you want to delete a widget from your sidebar, simply click on it and then click ‘Delete’ and it will disappear. You can always add the widget back in again if you change your mind.

FAQ

Can I have different sidebar widgets on every page?

By default, WordPress will display the same widgets on the sidebar of every post or page. There is a good reason for this: it provides a consistent visual ‘map’ of your site to your visitors so that they can more easily find their way around regardless of where they browse.

But some themes do enable you to design more than one sidebar and then choose how and when to display them, so this is not cast in stone.

If your theme doesn’t provide this and you have a good reason for wanting to display different widgets in the sidebar on different pages of your website, there is a useful plugin called ‘Custom Sidebars’ that you can use to achieve this. Plugins are covered in Lesson 15.

What if I don’t want a sidebar on my website?

Then just delete all the widgets. If you don’t have any widgets, no sidebar will be displayed.

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That’s it for the Quick Start Guide. Have you made a start on your website yet? NO? Lessons 1 - 8 are all you need to get your website up and running, albeit in a very simple format. So I urge you to go back to Lesson 1, make a start and just do it. It gets easier once you make a start, I promise.

Building a website may seem an uphill challenge but, actually, it’s quite good fun and you’ll get a great sense of achievement when you see your very own domain come to life…

If you have made a start on your website, then congratulations – welcome to the community of WordPress webmasters! The In-Depth Guide will take your web building skills to the next level. See you in Lesson 9!