Millions of webmasters use WordPress to run their site(s).
In 2011, Matt Mullenweg, WordPress founder, announced that the CMS powered 14.7% of the Alexa ranked top one million sites. The software is used not only for blogs these, but for every virtually every type of website.
With the rise of WordPress (WP) has come a community that is constantly releasing new plugins and widgets to add functionality to WP sites around the globe. Part of being a WordPress user is understanding and using widgets to improve the usability of your site without ever needing to touch a line of code.
What are WordPress Widgets?
WordPress widgets are a type of WP plugin used exclusively for sidebars. A sidebar is usually a skinnier column on a website aside the content, reserved for ads, categories, and other information.
Widgets can be downloaded and installed on your site without ever leaving your dashboard. You can use the internal search engine to search for plugins, and then download them directly onto your site. The last step is to click the “activate" button to have the plugin start working on your site.
After activating a widget, it will appear in your widget menu which is under the Appearance tab. Here you can select and customize the widgets you use, as well as the order they appear on your site.
What Makes a Good One?
There are thousands of different widgets available for download and installation. Many of them attempt to solve the same problems, which is why you'll need to be able to choose the best of the bunch.
The quickest and most obvious way to judge the quality of a plugin is by the number and quality of reviews. As a point of reference, a 5-start rated widget is probably better than a 2-star rated one, but always make sure there are a few reviews for the plugin or it may be biased.
What are the Best WordPress Widgets?
So what are the best WordPress Widgets then? Those that do what they're made to do best.
The best WP widgets have a large volume of customization options as well. Often times, a widget is almost perfect, but it is missing a small bit of functionality that you want or need.
The best are those that over-deliver with options so you can use the exactly how you want for the exact job you intended.