How to customize your blog with widgets

Screenshot of some WP widgets

Screenshot of some WP widgets

I am surprised to see a number of my friends’ blogs using the ready-to-use sectional links on the sidebar of their blogs like calendar, archives, etc. when they have so much to display.

Either they don’t have time to explore the functionalities offered by WordPress.com to change the looks of their theme (at least on the sidebars) or they are not into experimenting.

As we wrote in an earlier post, unless you want to pay a few dollars to have access to a CSS editor, there is not much you could do with the appearance of a selected theme other than to customize the custom header, that is, if that is an option in your selected theme.

But the widgets feature can change the appearance of your theme in terms of content and layout. The widgets can make your blog a little different from blogs using the same theme. This blog is using the Mistylook theme, but with the use of widgets, it now looks different from others blogs using the same theme. (Not the best-looking blog, I admit, but it demonstrates what widgets can do.)

In terms of content, there are so many things one can do with sidebar widgets. Here are some of them and what you can do with them:

  • Image: This is one of the latest features of WordPress.com which easily displays an image in your sidebar
  • RSS: Fetches the latest entries of your favorite site with RSS feeder
  • Top Posts: Excellent for showcasing to your visitors which of your posts receive the most number of views
  • Twitter: To display your latest tweets if you have a Twitter account or the latest tweets of your favorite Twitter-er
  • Text: This allows you to enter any message like announcements, greetings, etc. on your sidebar

Screenshot of the widget page used on this site

Screenshot of the widget page used on this site

To activate a widget in your sidebar, all you need to do is “drag and drop” it on where you want it to appear. For most linking widgets, for example, RSS or Twitter, like the Recent Posts or Recent Comments widget, you can specify the number of entries you want to display.

Layouting or re-ordering the sequence of your widgets is very easy as well. Simply “drag and drop” your active widgets to where you want them to appear.

Want to remove the widgets? Easy. Open the widget by clicking on its down-arrow button, and press the Remove text link.

Why not try the widgets and give your blog a lift?

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15 responses to “How to customize your blog with widgets

  1. Hi Romy, nice to find your blog. There are so many blogs that discuss the options and plug-ins for self-hosted WordPress blogs but not many that I have found for us free WordPress users. This post actually appeared as one of the related posts on my latest post were I also talk about widgets (so that time “possibly related posts” worked 😉 The other post listed was not at all related.

    You are right, using widgets can totally make a difference in the appearance of a WordPress.com blog. You mention the text widget and I also discovered that you can add music from SoundCloud to the text widget rather than adding SoundCloud to a post. That way you can always have a song on your home page.

    Thanks again for the post, I look forward to finding more goodies here.

    • @ileane – Thanks for the message, and also for sharing that info about the text widget. I may try that too. Cheers.

  2. Pingback: Use the Text widget to promote your posts inside your WP blog « Working and WordPress-ing

    • That’s a very interesting question. Unfortunately, I don’t think I have an expert answer to that.

      But here are some thoughts and observations:

      1. The widgets in a WP blog are dependent on (a) the plugins installed and active in a site, and (b) the structure of the blog theme, ie, whether the theme had been coded to allow widgets in the header, sidebar or footer.

      2. As we all know, most WP themes display widgets in the sidebar, and some themes also display widgets in the footer. I have checked the more than 70 themes in WordPress.com, and I have not found a theme with the options you have in mind.

      That said, you may wish to check your theme options including its Custom Header, if any.

      For example, this theme I am currently using has several options to customize its header. I can insert a standard 468×60 banner to the right of my site name (which obviously I did not do). The banner can be replaced with other displays like SNS icons using HTML, or anything within the TOS of WordPress.com.

      In short, the key to customizing your header is to look for a theme that gives you that option – to change the image, to change the color, to change the text or to insert other objects.

      Hope this helps.

      • Update: This response is now a separate post titled “How to put a text widget in a blog’s header”. Thanks for the prompt, leanpearl.

  3. Pingback: How to put a text widget in a blog’s header « Working and WordPress-ing

  4. Pingback: How to put a text widget in your blog’s header « Working and WordPress-ing

  5. Pingback: How to put a text widget in your blog’s header » Working and WordPress-ing

  6. Pingback: How to put a text widget in your blog’s header

  7. Pingback: Use the Text widget to promote your posts inside your WP blog

    • @karentidy – No need to import it. Appearance is shown on the left control alongside Posts, Media, Pages, Users, Tools and Settings. To expand each section, simply mouse over the section title and a drop down arrow appears. Left-click on it to dispplay the options / functions in that section. Here is a screenshot of the left control panel “before” and “after” showing the dropped-down options under Posts and Appearance > https://romycayabyab.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/romycwp-post-appearance.png

  8. Is it possible to remove the Feeds links for “Posts” and “Comments” in the top right corner of the mistylook theme? I’m not using them, but I can’t figure out how to get them to disappear.

  9. Pingback: How to put a text widget in your blog’s header

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