One of the reasons I use WordPress for all my clients is that it gives them the ability to update almost everything on their website for themselves. But I’ve realized that until recently, when I delivered a WordPress website to a client, I had only been giving them the ability to update the content. I wasn’t taking advantage of something that would allow them to update aspects of the design as well.
I’m talking about WordPress widgets.
Now, I try to get my clients to do as much work as possible on their websites, from editing their content to adding images. Most people I work with love the fact that they can update and manage their content in this way. But shouldn’t they also be able to move element blocks around and decide what content goes in the sidebars, footer, on the homepage, etc? They should – and that’s where widgets come in.
So what exactly are WordPress widgets? It helps to understand the two key terms that are used when talking about them:
What using widgets does is let you easily rearrange certain elements on your website, using a simple drag and drop interface under the “Appearance” section of the dashboard. They used to be solely for sidebars, but now are used in any area of a well-designed WordPress website. The most common areas you’ll see widgets located in include:
As long as an area is widgetized in the theme template, you can drop widgets into it. Most free and premium themes already come widgetized; if you have a custom theme, whether an area is widgetized is something your designer can answer for you.
From my own perspective, when I design a new website for a client, I’ll make my recommendations about what should go in various areas of each template. What I then do is make each of those areas widgetized and add the content I’ve recommended through the widget interface.
I try to make as many areas widgetized as possible – the more that are, the greater flexibility the client ultimately has in determining what goes where.
Aside from the ease of use in managing the design of the website that widgets allow for, there are some other obvious benefits for clients. These can include:
So now that I’ve seen the error of my ways in not using widgets, I’ve come to embrace them. To paraphrase Kenny Chesney, I ain’t ever going back to doing things the way I was before – both for my clients sake and for my own.
Now that I’ve given you the run-down on widgets, let’s hear your thoughts. As a WordPress designer or WordPress user, what do you think about widgets – love them or leave them? o you have any favorite widget plugins that you would like others to know about? Share your thoughts with everyone by leaving a comment below!