Widget is simply the name for the sections of your sidebar. The default wordpress theme Twenty-Eleven comes with several items already installed.
Looking at the sidebar and the headings for the links listed there we can find corresponding widgets activated when we look at the widget-admin area. Activating a widget is simply a matter of dragging and dropping. Once a module is dropped into its widget area there are also settings that can customize each individual. Keep in mind that there is no ‘save’ button, once in place a widget is active and viewable on your site.
Do widgets only go in the sidebar?
Widgets can go wherever there is a ‘widgetized’ area built into your theme. The sidebar is almost always used as the main widget area, this has been the case since the early days of WordPress. More and more themes are designating areas in other sections of the website page to allow for widgets, which is why they are now referred to as widgetized areas. The default theme Twenty-Eleven is an example with three areas in the footer (left,right and center) as well as a “showcase sidebar” area which only shows up when using a the page template “showcase”. Many themes have widget areas in the header, footer and sidebar. The only area where you cannot place widgets is within the actual post area.
Are widgets plugins?
Several widgets come with any given theme, how many you get and what widgets you get varies from theme to theme. Because they come with your theme they are not technically plugins. However, there are hundreds (thousands?) plugins that are widgets which you can add to your website. You will most likely want to do this since its a very nice way to add additional functions and navigation to your website.
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