This week, we’ve talked about navigation on your blog — making it easy for your readers to find your content using custom menus, for example. We’ve already talked about widgets before, in “Widgets 101″ and “Widgets 201,” so let’s continue exploring how we can use them to direct your visitors to different places — and add some texture and color in your sidebar with little effort.
To follow along, head to Appearance >> Widgets in your own dashboard. This is where the magic happens — where we’ll enable widgets by dragging them from the Available Widgets area to the right, where we’d like them to appear on our blog.
Also, note that each theme is different; the location options that appear on the right — sidebar, footer, etc. — will change depending on your theme.
Got it? Let’s dive in!
A simple way to direct readers to older posts on your blog is with the Archives Widget. This widget lists links to previous months, as shown in the widget on the right (displayed on one of our newest themes, the very elegant Adelle). When configuring the widget, you can opt to display a drop-down menu instead, as well as show the number of posts within a particular month.
Get creative with the title! Instead of naming it “Archives,” use a phrase that matches your blog’s theme, or shows some personality. If your site is all about travel, how about “The Wanderlust Files”?
The Category Cloud Widget shows your most used categories in a “cloud” format. While still text-focused, a category cloud is an alternative to a list of categories and adds a bit of visual texture to your sidebar.
You can see it in action on the left, as it’s displayed on the Pachyderm theme. Your most used categories appear in bigger size (which you can control under “maximum font percentage” when configuring the widget).
If “uncategorized” appears in this cloud, it means some of your posts are tagged with “uncategorized.” You can update this category name by going to Posts >> Categories and hovering over “Quick Edit.” Once saved, this new category will appear in the cloud, and will now be attached to those posts.
Alternatively, to remove the “uncategorized” category altogether, you must first select a different category as the default post category (since you can’t delete the default category). To do this, go to Settings >> Writing and choose another category from the drop-down menu next to “Default Post Category.” Then, you can go back to your Categories settings at Posts >> Categories and delete “uncategorized.”
For more information on categories, visit the Support page.
Sometimes users write in to ask how they can display ready-made social media icons in their sidebars. Some themes have these options built in, while others do not. In “Widgets 201,” we showed how one user, Zoe, created her own image widgets to match the rest of her site. If you don’t want to make your own social media icons using an online photo editor — but already have an About.me profile — consider enabling the About.me Widget.
This widget pulls the information from your About.me profile and displays it nicely on your blog. There are a number of options to customize the area: you can display your background image or bio photo, select sizes for your display name, and choose whether you’d like to display your About.me headline, biography, and icons (note that in the dashboard, this option is called “apps.”).
On the right, I’ve configured this widget on Superhero, a clean theme with bright pops of color. Here, my About.me headline appears in yellow, and my visitors can click on the icons underneath to connect with me elsewhere.
It’s a quick way to add social media navigation on your site.
For more details and tutorials on widgets and configuring your blog, check out our Get Configured section on our Learn site for WordPress.com. If you’d like to learn how to use a specific widget we haven’t covered yet, let us know in the comments.