Posted by Chloe Spencer
WordPress widgets are one of the many perks of using WordPress as your CMS. Widgets add features to your sidebar, which you can add and subtract, rearrange and customize yourself without having to tinker around in the code. There’s a handful of default widgets that come with WordPress, such as tag clouds, search bar, etc–but the best are found in WordPress widget plugins. WordPress plugins make extensive customization easy, with one-click install and simple modification options. I’ve put together a list of the top 10 WordPress widget plugins to consider installing on your WordPress website to deck out your website sidebar to its fullest potential.1. WP Widget Cache A plugin that caches the output of your blog widgets and significantly reduces the SQL queries to your database to speed up your site. Great to have when using multiple large widget plugins that may otherwise slow down your site.
2. Image Widget A simple but genius widget that uses the native WordPress media manager to add images to your sidebar.
3. Testimonials Widget This widget displays random or selected portfolio, quotes, reviews, showcases, or text with images.
4. Slick Contact Forms Widget Allows you to easily create contact forms for any area on your site using widgets.
5. Add Link to Facebook This plugin has a one-time setup and customization then automatically publishes to Facebook status updates containing links to your WordPress site posts or pages.
6. Facebook Members Widget This social widget enables you to get Facebook Likes from your website while displaying an attractive, customized Facebook Like Box and Recommendation Bar.
7. Twitter Widget Pro A customizable Twitter widget that properly handles Twitter feeds, including parsing @username, #hashtags, and URLs into links, as well as displaying profile images.
8. Dynamic Widgets Gives you full control on which pages your widgets will appear, letting you dynamically show or hide widgets on individual pages.
9. Google Maps Widget This is a good widget for business websites with a physical location or office, so your location can be easily seen in your sidebar.
10. Special Recent Posts Widget A highly-customizable plugin that displays your recent posts with attractive thumbnails. To install any of these WordPress widget plugins, type their name into the Plugin Directory search box in the “Plugins” section of your WordPress dashboard, click “Install”, then “Activate”. Then you can modify or customize the widget in the plugin settings or on your “Widgets” page. Add as many widgets as you want to your sidebar, arranging them and customizing them to your taste, even choosing which pages show which sidebar variations. The sidebar opportunities are endless! Which in part is what makes WordPress so great; the ability to fully customize the little but important details of your website without needing to be a PHP expert.