Day 9: The Basics: WordPress Widgets

Widgets are another set of small functions that add a little bit of flare to your website. The basic widgets add a search bar to your site (SUPER important), add notes about comments and categories, and can even add a calendar.

Reason

There are certain areas on a WordPress site that are designated “widget areas” only (typically the sidebar area). Also, many plugins actually add their functionality via a widget after the plugin is installed and activated (e.g., the infamous Social Media Widget, found here. Please note, this is a GREAT plugin with a scandalous history, which you can read about below)

Recipe

Watch your daily dose here:

Remove the Meta widget from your side bar, if you haven’t already (this can be a weak spot in your WordPress site). Add any widgets you’d like to see on your sidebar. Note: if you’ve installed and activated JetPack, there will be more widgets available to your in the widget menu area than a normal install.

Resource

Similar to plugins, there are plenty of widgets that you can use to add functionality to your website. Here is one list of 30 popular widgets for your reference.

Which of these widgets will you use on your site? What is your understanding of the difference between plugins and widgets at this point?

A note on the Social Media Widget: Earlier in 2013, the very popular Social Media Widget was found to be injecting malware into people’s websites. The plugin was removed from the WordPress Repository, and the folks at Social Media Widget removed the malicious code, and the widget is back in the repository, though not without several bad reviews. Read more about the technical aspects here.

I personally still use this widget because I think it’s clean now, and VERY functional. However, you’ll need to make your own decision. I bring this up to illustrate that no platform is perfect, and while there are many security features in place, there are still potential maladies out there that can affect your website.

Always be vigilant, but not too paranoid:-).

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