Widgets, the handy features built right into your WordPress.com dashboard, allow you to add cool features to your site so you can make it your online home. Have you poked around in Appearance ? Widgets, recently? We want to make sure you know how quick and simple it is to activate — and customize — widgets. If you haven’t enabled them already, try these:
Tried-and-true, the Search Widget adds a search box to your sidebar or footer and allows readers to search for posts and pages in your archives. You can spruce up this widget by personalizing the title to match the theme or niche of your blog. Food bloggers, for example, can cook up a search form like this (as shown on the Adelle theme):
With the Custom Menu Widget, you can display specific pages and categories, as well as custom links, in your sidebar or footer. (To use it, you need to create a custom menu.) Many of you display custom menus near the top of your site, in your primary navigation area, as well as in a secondary menu location — if your theme allows it.
A Custom Menu Widget is just another way to steer your readers to where you’d like them to go, and many bloggers insert custom links to external sites — from a writer’s social media profiles to an artist’s portfolio site to a WordPresser’s second site for photoblogging. Here’s an example of how to quickly direct your visitors to your other projects online, as displayed on the Delicious Magazine theme:
The Milestone Widget offers a visual countdown to a specific date. While brides and grooms-to be using wedding websites like Forever and Ever After activate this widget to count down to the big day, we’ve seen other creative uses, from runners training for marathons to novelists with self-imposed deadlines to write a certain number of pages (something we often see during NaNoWriMo).
Getting ready for a race? See the Milestone Widget in action on the new Trvl theme:
The Upcoming Events Widget allows you to use an iCalendar link to display a list of events. (You can use Google Calendar to create a calendar, list upcoming events, and get an iCalendar Feed URL, which is explained on the widget’s support page.) While this widget was created with musicians in mind, it’s handy for any kind of event list — an author’s book signings, a collaborative blog’s posting schedule, an organization’s upcoming events, and more. See it in action on the Twenty Thirteen theme:
The styling of each widget depends on your current theme, so your widgets may not look like these examples. Also, remember you can opt to show or hide specific widgets using the widget visibility tool, which offers more control over what widgets you’d like to display when readers view certain pages on your site.
So, what are you waiting for? Get widgety.