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?

    Advertisements

Changing themes is part of the exercise

romyc-wordpress-gridFor those who were following me from day one, 10 days ago, you would have noticed a big change in this site.

Yes, I am using Sadish’s MistyLook, except for the header image which I customized using other themes images. Not that there was something wrong with Derek Punsalan’s Grid Focus theme. In fact, it is one of my favorites for other self-hosted sites. I switched to a new theme as part of the exercise. I wanted to have a feel of how it is to “re-skin a blog” at WordPress.com.

Well, it was not that difficult after all. It took me only about 10 minutes to move to a different theme and re-set the widgets to display the same information.

Next time our friends ask me how it is to blog at WordPress.com, this is one story I can tell them.

By the way, is this theme XHTML 1.0 validated? I did check it and it is.

Updated 13 October: Experimenting with INove by mg12.

A pleasant blogging experience at WordPress.com, so far

I mentioned in my earlier posts that, compared with self-hosted sites which I am very much familiar with, a blog at WordPress.com is restrictive. For one, I could not really do much about customizing a theme unless of course I buy credits to allow me to add custom CSS. Also, I could not install my favorite plugins which of course I understand – considering that plugins are not for everyone.

But even within a small playing area so to speak, I thought running a non self-hosted blog could also be a pleasant online experience. I am quite happy with the way my blog here at WordPress.com is shaping up.  Its structure, content and looks are metamorphosing to those of  my self-hosted blog, thanks to the wonders of widgets. Widgets are something I would like to share with you in my next posts.

In the meantime, you may wish to check out my personal site including some Twitter updates @romycc.  Again, if you have a subject you would like us to tackle before the widgets posts, let me know.