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Extending the Power of Your Default WordPress Widgets

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Extending the Power of Your Default WordPress Widgets

One of the things that makes customization on WordPress easy for users are Widgets. This flexible system in WordPress was added back in the days of version 2.2. Most themes now comes with a widget ready sidebar and other theme locations to make customizing your WordPress site very easy. While the default WordPress widgets work just fine, you can easily extend the power of these widgets with some awesome plugins that we will cover in this article. By extending the power of your default WordPress widgets, you get more control over how you display things which allows for further and easier customization options.

Widgets Reloaded

Just Tadlock wrote an amazing plugin called Widgets Reloaded which replaces many of the default WordPress widgets with versions that allow much more control. Justin gives each of these widgets with highly customizable control panels, and each widgets can be used any number of times. Currently there are 8 widgets packed with this plugin:

  • Archives
  • Authors
  • Bookmarks (Links)
  • Calendar
  • Categories
  • Navigation Menu
  • Pages
  • Search
  • Tags

Widget Reloaded Before/After Screenshots

Before and After shot of Widgets Reloaded Archives

Normally the archives widget is very limiting. Could you imagine having a 4 year old blog with the archives in the sidebar. That is 48 ugly links. If I am a non-code savvy user, then I am left with no choice but to remove them. Well if you have widgets reloaded, you can set a limit of years you want. You can select what you want to show before and after each year displays.

Before and After shot of Widgets Reloaded Tags

By default, the tag widget only lets you pick between category or tags and the title. Well that is very very limiting for the amount of features that it should and could have. With widgets reloaded, as you see in the image above, you get tons of features. Features like smallest and largest font-size, number of tags to show, exclude list for tags, order of tags and much more.

Now Widgets Reloaded is a very useful plugin, but really and truly we shouldn’t have to use a plugin for this sort of thing. WordPress by default should have these features in the UI. All of these parameters (feature control options) are already built-in to the core. Creating a user-interface for these would not be hard because Widgets Reloaded already does this. Nonetheless for now, you should use this plugin if you want to extend the power of your widgets.

Widget Logic

Adding conditional logic to each widget is one of the smartest thing to do for DIY WordPress user. Often widgets are only necessary for only certain pages. Widget Logic plugin allows you to achieve page-level control over widgets without editing your theme files to greater extent.

Widget Logic Screenshot

Let’s say you have a widget for Recent Posts, then you do not want to show it on all pages (specially not on the homepage). So you can set it, so it only shows on single pages because that is where it is most likely clicked from. Your homepage on a normal blog often shows the 10 most recent posts just like the recent posts widget. We see a lot of blogs that do this, and it would make sense for them to use Widget Logic.

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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  1. agraj says:

    I had visited you site many times to search solution for problem but your websites has nothing to help me because i want to bulit custom themes and use as minimum number of plugins but in your website and in every blog you just use plugins to show the result.there is nothing more than just using pluign for even little things.JUNK

  2. Uros says:

    The dynamic widget plugin for the win!

  3. Mattia Frigeri says:

    This plugin, as WP says, has not been updated since 2 years….
    This is the problem when you re-link older posts… They are not accurate.

    • Editorial Staff says:

      Umm, Widget Logic was updated in May 2012, and we still use it. This is what happens when you comment without reading the entire post.

      • Mattia Frigeri says:

        You know it’s not that plugin I am speaking about, but widget reloaded:

        I’d suggest you to upate the info, when linking back to old posts.
        And btw, I always read your posts from top to bottom.

        I tihnk they are extremely useful, but I have to complain about this idea of relinking infinitely anything…

        It’s just my opinion, but I think I am not alone.

        • Editorial Staff says:

          We are not automatically (infinitely) linking old posts. We are manually hand-picking each post that is still relevant. Then those are added to Buffer which automatically tweets them out at the best times. Both of the plugins mentioned in this article work perfectly fine. If it is broken, then it would be an issue, but it is NOT. Widgets reloaded is a great plugin for beginners.

  4. jonathonbyrd says:

    Don’t forget about Total Widget Control,

    It allows you to make widgets visible to any combination of posts, pages, categories, taxonomies, clt’s… You can also display widgets based on user roles and publishing dates. The recurse to child objects is a useful tool as well as the custom widget style wrappers that come preloaded.

    And best of all, no need to code anything to use this intuitive plugin.

  5. Rawaf says:

    It’s perfect widgets , But I have problem with my template , when I add the default widgets work fine But when add any new widget it’s not show in my sidebar.
    have anyone fix for this bug ?

  6. Paul Winslow says:

    I would love to be able to extend a widget’s functionality by sticking to my functions.php file. Is there a custom way to do the same thing?

    Cheers, guys.

    • Editorial Staff says:

      Never tried reinventing the wheel. We either use this plugin, or hard code the object in the theme without using widgets.

  7. Rajesh Namase says:

    Very good tips. Great Job.I was looking for this certain info for a long time.

  8. Keith Davis says:

    Would be good to mess around with the widgets a bit.

    The Justin T plugin looks pretty good.
    I’ll head over and look at it in detail.
    Although I am trying to cut down the number of plugins that I use.

    Nice to read a post I can understand – no PHP required. LOL

    Great site and great info.


  9. Gretchen says:

    I use Widget Logic on almost every site I do! It adds such a variety of options to the sidebar layout!

  10. Kishore Mylavarapu says:

    Really nice plugins to customize widgets.Nice list.

  11. Bronson says:

    Those 2 plugins really do a very long way towards getting the most out of your widgets – the additional options are very welcome and the Widget Logic is perfect — it’s one of the things I loved about Joomla Modules — they could be page specific.

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