What are widgets?
Widgets are little tools that you can embed around your site. In the example above, they are the column of links and things on the right hand side. Where they appear is up to you and is determined by the layout you chose for your site.
Getting the widgets
On your dashboard, go down to "Appearance" and Widgets appears as the second option. Click on that.
The widgets dashboard
This is the widgets dashboard. On the left is a big collection of widgets, while on the right are some areas that are currently blank.
The "Main sidebar" is the big blank area on the left or right of your site (assuming your layout has such a space!)
Footer areas are at the bottom of your page. It’s a good idea to put static information in those spaces like copyright information.
To add a widget, just drag and drop it in to place. You can reposition them any time. Most widgets require you to change some settings.
In the examples below I’ll show you some of the ones I tend to use.
My main sidebar
This is a shot of my main sidebar.
RSS is a technology that allows people to subscribe to websites and receive updates automatically using a tool like Google Reader. All blogs have RSS feeds and it’s often a good idea to make it clear to people. In another tutorial I show you how to use RSS links yourself – it’s complex to get your head around the idea, perhaps, but it’s easy to use. Well worth investigating.
The Categories widget presents a drop-down menu of the different categories you’ve used on your site. That enables people to quickly filter your pages, so if they’re interested in, say, your knitted textiles, they can choose "knit" from the menu and only see pages and blog posts in that category.
There’s a similar widget for tags, including a "cloud" feature… try it out to see what it does.
Delicious is a social bookmarking tool and I use it all the time. If I find something on the web I think is interesting or potentially useful, I save it to Delicious with some tags. You can use the Delicious widget to automatically display the latest things you (or any other Delicious user) has tagged.
In the example above, I’ve created a widget that will show links I’ve tagged "interiors". You can include as many tags as you want here.
Delicious is a really useful tool that I recommend you look in to.
The links widget either displays all the links you’ve created on your site, or certain categories of links (e.g. a "blog roll"). I describe this in a separate tutorial!
If you’re not using Flickr you need to be! It’s such a useful site for storing your photos and images as a backup but also for use on your blog and website. I’ll let you explore Flickr yourself but the image above shows my Flickr page.
Getting your Flickr RSS feed
To embed Flickr in your website, scroll to the bottom of your page (or someone else’s – Flickr’s for sharing, after all!) and right click on the RSS feed called "Latest". (See my quick description of RSS above – this is an example of it in use)
Copy the link
The Flickr widget
Paste the link you just copied into the box called "Flickr RSS URL" and decide how many photos you want to show and how large. You can change this anytime, so experiment.
Give the widget a title like "Portfolio" or "My photos" or something.
The finished page
Here’s the page with the widgets in place. In this layout they’re on the left but I might change that so they’re on the right which I think I prefer. It’s up to you.
- The RSS links at the top – maybe that icon is too big so I’ll change that.
- You can see the categories drop-down list. Very handy!
- I’ve changed the Delicious widget to show articles tagged "design" and I think I’m maybe showing too many so might reduce that.
- My blogroll isn’t particularly interesting – yet. See the tutorial on blogrolls to see how to change that.
Scrolling down you can see my Flickr photos. Maybe they’re too big? Again, just experiment!