Quick Tip: Improve your default WordPress widgets


One of the most versatile, flexible things about WordPress is its widget system. Widgets were added to WordPress core in 2007, version 2.2. Depending on the theme you’re using, widgets can make customizing your website incredibly easy.

WordPress default widgets are fine, and do their job, but they aren’t very flexible. There are stronger, more flexible widgets available out there—widgets that might just end up replacing your standard setup.

Improve most of your widgets at one time

The first thing you should grab to better your widgets is to Justin Tadlock’s Widgets Reloaded. Widgets Reloaded replaces a number of the default WordPress widgets with widgets of similar purpose, but with more flexibility.

The default Archives widget (on the left) becomes the widget on the right once Widgets Reloaded is activated.

Make widgets flexible with some logic

Sometimes widgets are only necessary on certain pages. One way of achieving page-level control of widgets is to create a number of widget areas and page templates.

Or, you can grab Widget Logic, a Plugin that allows you to choose, using WordPress conditional tags, which pages a widget will show up on.

Feature pages using widgets in the simplest way

Another useful Plugin, Featured Page Widgets by Shane Lambert, allows you to feature pages using widgets. The widget’s options are simple to customize, and creates a clean and simple featured area in your sidebar.

A number of commercial WordPress themes use a similar technique anymore, but you don’t need a commercial theme to use it.

Are your widgets flexible?

Have you used any of these Plugins before? Are there other Plugins you use that give you stronger or more flexible widgets?

8 thoughts on “Quick Tip: Improve your default WordPress widgets

  1. Widget Logic is a god send. It’s one of those plugins that go into every WordPress install I have. I hope it sticks around and is updated to simply work with WordPress as there are no signs of Widgets having this functionality built into them any time soon. Apparently that is still plugin territory.

  2. Similar to Widget Logic, but for text/php widgets only, is Advanced Text Widget – love that plugin.

    Can’t wait to give Justin’s Reloaded plugin a test drive, though!

  3. Wow thats definately something i’ll be looking at using in the future for CMS based sites. That is really the only feature i’ve thought WordPress lacked over Joomla (altho the pros already way outweighed the cons).

    I agree with paul, it should be in the core.

  4. These plugins look amazing! I am just wondering if there are any required updates required for the current version of WP (3.2.1)? Thanks!

  5. Hi,

    I really needed some widget flexibility while using WordPress as a CMS. Widget Logic is cool, but it needs an easy to use interface. So I wrote a plugin, Flexible Widgets, that may come in handy if you need WordPress to be a little more than a blog.

    Currently, the Flexible Widgets plugin only supports the default WordPress widgets, though. It will not work on custom widgets from plugins or themes. Maybe I can wrap my head around a fix for that in a future version.

    But try it out and tell me what you think. You can get the Flexible Widgets plugin from the WP Plugin Repository.

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