Everything You Wanted To Know About WordPress Widgets (But Were Too Afraid To Ask)

By September 14, 2015 Blog No Comments
Everything You Wanted To Know About WordPress Widgets (But Were ...

We’ve been a part of the WordPress industry for years now, and by far the most popular feature majority of users look for are WordPress widgets. Even the absolute beginners get the hang of themes and plugins, but not many are sure how to go about creating custom widgets. In today’s article we gathered a few important things you need to keep in mind when creating your own. Let’s dive right in!

What Are WordPress Widgets

The simplest way to define WordPress widgets is as a block of content, whether it’s text, an image or a list of categories, that can easily be placed in a predefined area (also known as ‘widgetized areas’) on your website. These widget-friendly areas are usually the sidebar, footer, and header, and in some cases, even an entire homepage.

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WordPress widgets are not plugins, but some plugins may contain widgets. Even though it may sound obvious to you, you’d be surprised how many beginners confuse plugins and widgets. They’re installed as one file (a plugin) to simplify the entire process. If they were separate, you’d have to install both the plugin and the corresponding widget, adding to the entire process an unnecessary step.

Why Developers Should Care About WordPress Widgets

If you’re a developer about to join the WordPress industry hoping to earn a little extra cash on the side developing premium WordPress themes or plugins, you will have to make sure that your theme or plugin not only look great but also provide your potential buyers with everything they’ll need to set up a website; however, you will also need to find a way to stand out from crowd and grab your buyer’s attention. One way to do this is adding value to your theme or plugin by creating a corresponding widget.

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The Basic Structure Of WordPress Widgets

WordPress widgets can serve various purposes, but they all start off with the same basic structure.

add_action( 'widgets_init', 'register_my_widget' ); // function to load my widget
function register_my_widget() {} // function to register my widget
class My_Widget extends WP_Widget () {} // The example widget class
function My_Widget() {} // Widget Settings
function widget() {} // display the widget
function update() {} // update the widget
function form() {} // and of course the form for the widget options

Once you’re done coding your widget, save it as a PHP file, upload to your theme and include it in functions.php. After that, simply navigate to your widgets panel and you will see the newly created widget.

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