WordPress is extremely user-friendly. If you have ever hand-coded or altered or edited any HTML, it’s a snap. If you haven’t — you really need the easy-to-use interface… like WP. And widgets improve the ease of use factor.
What’s a Widget?
Widgets are tiny programs, usually with specific functions that people add to their desktops or (in the case of WordPress) their websites.
What Do They Do That’s So Cool?
Widgets allow individuals to customize the look, feel and function of the chosen platform quickly, easily and (usually) without the need to touch a single line of code. Read this article about the general concept of widgets and how Coldwell Banker has a desktop version to show new listings in a tidy little package.
Do People Really Use These Things?
Comscore, a digital data tracking service, recently launched “Widget Matrix” to track widget saturation across the Internet. According to the report on widget popularity, the top ten most popular of these little snippet sized programs reached an audience of over 177 thousand unique visitors and in North America alone over 40% of all Internet users visited a website with a widget. The most popular type of widget? Photo-related (think randomized shots of your current listings with “click to view full description” capability).
How do I use them?
Widgets allow you “drag and drop” functionality in many cool features for your new WordPress site — and you can select those and install, activate and customize them yourself. It will give you the ability to be creative and to add new “stuff” without calling a webmaster.
It also gives you the ability to turn off, activate and move around your site’s content to your satisfaction. Once you get it the way you want it, a single click on the “save” button in the widget dashboard and it goes live!
How Do I Use Widgets on My WordPress Install?
First, select a pre-widgetized theme. If the theme you love doesn’t offer widget capability built-in, you can get it widgetized by a code-jockey or you can widgetize it yourself (which is what I did for mine).
Widget-Ready WordPress Themes
Download the WP Widget Ready Theme Pack (15 megs) of over 100 themes.
How to Use Widgets – a step by step guide for beginners
Widgetizing Your Own – http://automattic.com/code/widgets/themes/
Finding Cool Widgets
http://www.widgipedia.com/ – Widget supersite (but not for WP specifically)
Turning Plugins into Widgets – Here’s how!
Real Estate Widgets:
http://www.thegoodblogs.com/wordpress_widget – the good blogs widget
http://www.ozpolitics.info/blog/wordpress-plugins/#links – I like quite a few of these widgets — like the aggregate RSS feed widget (I need this for my own blogs).