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Favourite Blog Widgets & Plugins

Day 23 of the A-Z challenge.

W is for Widgets & Plugins

Want to add more features and functions to your blog site but don’t want the hassle of using code? 

The solution is to incorporate widgets and plugins into your blog. 

Don’t know what they are? 

Look at some of the blogs you visit regularly. If you see their home page has a search function, or displays a list of popular topics, a blog roll and a category cloud, you’ll know the blogger is using widgets and plugins. 

PlugIns are the most powerful of these tools. They’re mini programmes or extensions that have to be installed and activated before they can be used on the blog site. Think of them like apps you install on your phone.

Widgets are drag and drop blocks of content that you can add to your site’s sidebars, footers, and other areas. They give you more control over your site without having to understand or apply coding. Some plugsin create widgets, others are bundled with your blog platform.

For a more detailed explanation take a look at this article on the difference between widgets and plugins

Which Widgets and Plugins Should You Use?

The choice of widgets and plugins is already extensive yet more and more are developed every week. It’s easy to get overwhelmed but bear in mind that a large proportion of these tools are really only of benefit for people using a blog as a business platform. Others may not be available if you are using only the free version of WordPress.

The ease of installation also means it’s easy to get carried away and add lots of them to your site. Try not to do that. If you use a large number of plugins you could affect the load speed of your site. Plus, your home page can end up looking very cluttered.

I’ve tweaked the widgets in the side bar of my home page countless times, trying to decide which is the most useful. The most recent change I made was to add a contact form and remove the Twitter feed.

Over time I’ve come to see a few widgets as “essential” and some as “very useful.”

Must Have Widgets and Plugins

These are tools I think are essential for blogs of all sizes.

Photo by Chris Yates on Unsplash

“Very Useful” Widgets And Tools

There are a few more widgets that I would class as “very useful”. All except the last item come bundled within WordPress which makes it very easy to add to a side bar.

Tools With Potential For Book Bloggers

As I was exploring all the widgets and plugins available I came across a few that I have could be of value to book bloggers.

How To Install Widgets And PlugIns

Within WordPress you’ll find a number of widgets included as standard tools.

To use them, go to your WordPress dashboard.

Choose Appearance → Widgets.

Select the widget you want to use and drag it to to the widget section of your page. The location could be your sidebar or the footer, depend on which design theme you are using. You can easily rearrange the order in which they appear.

To find plugins, go to the dashboard again but this time select Plugins. The next screen will show you which Plugins are available according to your theme – you simply activate them by selecting the radio button next to the plugin name.

If you want to install a new Plugin, Click on Add New (this is shown on the top of the screen and also in the dashboard Plugin menu on the left). Use the search tool to find the PlugIn you want. Click Install and then Select.

Your Favourite Widgets & Plugins

I’ve shared my list of favourites but I may have missed some other very useful tools. Let me know what you’ve discovered.

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