One of WordPress’s most innovative capabilities is “widgets.” Widgets allow you to customize your WordPress sidebar layout with a number of different pre-programmed options.
You can also expand your widgets to include all kinds of other features. Everything works through drag and drop and is extremely easy to design.
To get started, go to “Widgets” under “Appearance” in your WordPress set up. Here are a few of the most common options.
The archives shows a backlog of all the posts you’ve made this month, as well as provides direct links to the archives of previous months.
This is extremely useful for helping people find older content.
The calendar is similar to the archive, except it lists your posts on a calendar. This can be useful for more visual people who are looking for content on your site.
==> Links and Blogroll
Are there other resources people in your industry should know about? The links and blogroll section makes it easy to link to other sites.
Links that go into your blogroll are site wide links, meaning every page from your site will point to that link through your widget. For other webmasters, it’s extremely valuable as it passes a lot of link juice.
If you have clearly defined categories, you can put them in the sidebar to make your site easier to navigate.
==> Tag Cloud
The tag cloud is one of the most visually stunning widgets you can choose from. It takes all your tags, which are like keywords you use to describe posts, and creates a “cloud,” a formation of different sized words. The more often you’ve used a tag, the larger the word.
This creates a very Web 2.0 kind of look, while giving people an easy way to find posts they’re looking for.
==> RSS and Social Media
By default, WordPress comes loaded with an RSS widget. The RSS widget makes it easy for people with RSS readers to subscribe to your blog.
WordPress doesn’t come out of the box with social media widgets, such as Like buttons or Follow buttons. However, there are plenty of plug-ins out there that can add this capability.
==> Raw HTML for Everything Else
Finally, you have the raw HTML option. This option gives you complete flexibility for what you want to put in your sidebar.
If you wanted to put a large banner image in the sidebar, how would you do it? One easy way would be to just use straight HTML code.
What if you wanted a subscription box? All you’d need to do is edit the boxes to be small enough to fit and put the HTML code in the side.
These are some of the most common WordPress widgets you can choose from. By mixing and matching widgets, you can create a highly unique and personal design that’s also very easy to use.