How to use Widgets in WordPress

Today we will be working with WordPress Widgets. We will define widgets, give examples of how they are used, show you where they are within the WordPress Administrator, and how to add them to a WordPress theme.

Definition of a WordPress Widget

A WordPress Widget allows you to add content and features to any designated to place within a theme. Themes are not required to have these “widgetized” spaces, so locations for widgets will vary from theme to theme. A common location for widgets is the side bar.

Per the WordPress Codex (

“WordPress Widgets add content and features to your sidebars. Examples are the default widgets that come with WordPress; for Categories, Tag cloud, Search, etc. Plugins will often add their own widgets.

Widgets were originally designed to provide a simple and easy-to-use way of giving design and structure control of the WordPress Theme to the user, which is now available on properly “widgetized” WordPress Themes to include the header, footer, and elsewhere in the WordPress design and structure. Widgets require no code experience or expertise. They can be added, removed, and rearranged on the Theme Customizer or Appearance -Widgets in the WordPress Administration Screens.”

How are Widgets Used?

Widgets can be used for a variety of reasons, but primarily to provide functionality

Here are some Widget examples as per the default twenty-fifteen theme:

Recent Posts
Recent Comments
Tag Cloud

As you can see, there are many functions that widgets can provide to each WordPress installation.

Widgets in the WordPress Admin

In order to get to Widgets:

Log into the WordPress Admin
Click on Appearance
Click on Widgets

To add a Widget:

In the left-hand side where the widgets are listed under Available Widgets, click on the desired widget and drag it to the right-hand side labeled Widget Area

To a label or configure a Widget:

In the Widget Area, click on the widget you wish to name or configure. Click on the drop-down arrow to the right of the widget.

Click in the Title area to name the Widget.
If there are options to configure a widget, they will be under the title. Configure the widget as needed.

To Remove a Widget

Click on the drop-down widget in the Widget Area
Scroll down to the bottom of the widget, then click on Delete. This will place the widget in the Available widgets on the left-hand side. If you did this by accident, simply drag it back to the right-hand side again.

Widgets can also be Managed in the Customizer

Click on the button labeled Manage in Customizer (next to the Widgets title at the top of the screen). This will open the Customizer screen.

The advantage of using the Customizer is you will be able to immediately see how the customizer will appear in the Theme.

To add a theme, click on Add a widget.
You will see a list of Widgets appear to the right of the Customizer column
Select the widget that you want to use
You will be able give your newly added widget a title or configure it
You can also click on re-order in order to change the position of the widget by dragging or click on the up and down arrows
When you have finished configuring, modifying or removing widgets, click on Save and Publish to save your changes.

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