I admit it. I’m addicted to WordPress widgets, but probably not in the same way that some people might be. I very much like building cool widgets, even if I have no use for them myself.
I’ve been looking around the WordPress-o-Sphere, trying to find any widgets that I would recommend to my users at Theme Hybrid. Quite frankly, I haven’t found too many that I like. Many don’t offer settings for the user to tinker with. Most aren’t even multi-widgets (you can only use them once).
So, I’m on a mission.
What are WordPress widgets?
Unless you’re new to WordPress or haven’t upgraded your blog in quite some time, you’ve missed out on a lot. The WordPress Codex explains widgets as:
WordPress Widgets are also known as "sidebar accessories" which are WordPress Plugins or add-ons to your WordPress blog sidebar. Developed by Automattic for WordPress and WordPress.com blogs, WordPress Widgets allow the easy addition of design elements, gadgets, content, images, and more to your WordPress sidebar to personalize your blog without knowing HTML, PHP, or any code.
Ughh! They used the term “sidebar accessories.”
If you’re using a theme like Hybrid or Thematic, you probably know that the term “sidebar accessories” doesn’t apply to your theme. You’re probably aware that you can add widgets just about anywhere. In fact, Hybrid has a page template that’s completely widgetized.
To settle this right now — widgets are not sidebar accessories. They are simply accessories. With the right theme, they are accessories that you can place anywhere.
I want to code some new widgets.
My vision of what widgets should be and others’ visions might be different. I want widgets that extend the core WordPress functions. I want to extend the things that are already there but might be hard for Average Joe to implement.
For example, anyone that has used WordPress long enough probably knows how to work with the wp_list_pages() function. But, isn’t it much easier to just click an option here, select a drop-down there, instead of diving into code? (Note: The Widgets Reloaded plugin handles this particular function.)
What widgets would you like to see?
Pretend you were hiring me to create a cool widget for you. What would you have me build?
Honestly, I wouldn’t take the job if you asked me to integrate with some third-party service like Twitter or Flickr or something like that. I would probably only take it if you wanted to get information that already exists within WordPress and use it within a widget.